Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On to Dominica!

This is our second visit to Dominica and we remember the previous one very fondly. After the water parched islands we've been in recently this is a treat to the eye and nose - so green! The profile is much like St. Vincent's with steep mountains and valleys everywhere, but without the security concerns. Of course it's still important to "lift and lock" (your dinghy) at night, but there is a night watch run by the local guides and we didn't feel the need to lock ourselves in.
The town of Portsmouth isn't terribly prosperous but people generally have a lot of pride in their homes and however small, they are well kept. Flowers are in everyone's yard and people look happy and well fed. North of town is the large medical school

with over 1200 students. This is a much more developed area but still low key compared to most other islands. There are no huge hotels or resorts on Dominica although plenty of charming small ones. The beaches are lovely but not white. The unspoiled interior is a highlight here - many waterfalls, including a hot one and a boiling lake, sulfur springs and lots of trail for exploring.
Walking leisurely through the small town there is lots to see. Many of the homes have individual touches or are all out unusual. See the photo above of the pink shell
incrusted home! The small shack below it is so different but just as neat and obviously loved. Notice the pair of shoes sitting quietly on the steps!
The detail of another home shows the more restrained use of shells for design. The white tent visable in the trees is part of an elaborate tree house right on the beach whose owner is an artist.
There is some excellent diving here and we happily organized a two tank dive with Cabrits Dive Center for Sunday. Our first dive was off Toucari Point and included a swim through a narrow cave with two entrances. I was really nervous about this as I suffer from occasional claustrophobia. So I got right behind the dive master and followed him in quickly before I could think about it too much. As he had promised, once in I could see light up ahead and that really helped, because it was a tight fit.

The coral and rock formations were really beautiful on both dives. There were lots of fish, although not many larger ones as they still allow fishing here. We saw a sting ray and a moray eel. The second dive had another cave and a long narrow cleff in the rock that we swam through. This was different scenery underwater than we had experienced in Bonaire and Carriacou - very dramatic. Hopefully Dominica will create a Marine park here soon and completely protect the area. Cabrits is a very professional outfit and had a big comfortable dive boat (they have a smaller one as well). Several people we talked to on the boat come here every year for their vacation. They are a five star PADI facility (

There are only a few small markets in Portsmouth although they have most of the basics. On Saturday morning however there's an excellent market with a large variety of fresh produce, bread and spices. Your coconut can be husked while you wait (only a minute).

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