Diving into Dominica
"When we arrived back at base, we were handed the strongest rum punches we have ever tasted. It was so strong that we decided we would have to go and lie down on nearby Mero beach to recover..."
Luciano’s sister has flown in from Brazil and is having an experience of boat life in the Caribbean. We have spent this week anchored in Roseau, the capital of Dominica in the south of the island. Originally called Waitukubuli - Tall is her Body by the Kalinago who migrated here from South America from 3000BC onwards, Dominica has nine active volcanoes. There are an abundance of hot sulphur springs here that you can bathe in, the second largest boiling lake in the world and even a hot waterfall.
In the centre of Roseau is a prominent emancipation monument - paying tribute to the enslaved Africans who lost their lives and freedom and to the brave maroons who managed to escape and to fight against the British colonial forces. It also serves as a reminder to Dominicans to pay homage to their African cultural heritage and traditions and to respect that the shaping of Dominica’s agricultural output and infrastructure came from the skills and hard work of those Africans who were brought here. Dominica’s museum gives interesting context on the volcanic geology, the coral reefs and wildlife, the bases from which the maroons fought the British and the stages through which Dominica gained its independence and the traditions, cultures and beliefs of the Kalinago people.
We took a tour with the very highly recommended Sea Cat, who picked all different fruits along the way for us to taste and smell - guava, grapefruit, cocoa, bay leaves, lemon grass, nutmeg, cinnamon and coffee. Our first stop was to hike an hour and a half to Middleham Falls. Along the way, Sea Cat announced that we were going to remake Tarzan, and selecting a suitable liana, handed it to anyone willing to try a swing out over the vertiginous vegetation - we had to hang on tight as it was a long way down, but very thrilling. We first saw the falls from a lookout spot above the pool. As the water rushed down 200ft, a rainbow halo encircled the pool where two people were swimming. We eagerly rushed down and clambered across the rocks for a refreshing dip. The water was powerful, but we could cling onto the rocks behind and feel the rush of water before dipping our heads and gliding under the water to avoid the awesome power of it above the waterline. The pool was deep and we could climb the rocks to a little cave on the side and then jump into the pool. It was just gorgeous after our hot walk. We didn’t think any of the sites could equal this, but miraculously, we were wrong - each site was amazing in its own different way.
Our next stop was Ti Tou (meaning Small Throat in Creole) Gorge. Here we swam through a cave network, light finding its way through the high openings above, forming rays that you could occasionally catch on the dark teal green waters. At the end was a small opening with a powerful waterfall that you could scramble into. By the time we emerged, we felt distinctly chilly after all our time in the water. Luckily there was a warm trickle of water running down the outside of the cave wall, so we stood under it to warm up.
Onwards to the next site of Trafalgar Falls. Here there are two waterfalls, a more powerful one on the right and a taller but thinner falls on the left. The left one was the one we wanted - its orange hue giving away that this was a hot waterfall - and the orange comes from the sulphur. Sea Cat led us through a hidden path, clambering over boulders until we reached a place where we could have a warm massage from the waterfalls, very welcome indeed after the chilly caves.
The next day we took the bus to Scott’s Head, a little peak in the southwestern corner attached to the mainland by an isthmus. We walked up and admired the amazing views over the bay. Then had a lovely lunch in a cafe in the village overlooking the water. We stopped at Soufriere on the way back and took a little walk, accompanied by two friendly dogs who followed us the whole way.
On Wednesday we fancied relaxing and spent the whole day luxuriating in the warm pools in the village of Wotten Waven where there are an abundance of warm sulphuric water outlets heated by the volcanoes. On Thursday we ventured up the coast and tried out river tubing. We each sat in an inflatable tube and were handed a wooden paddle to push off when we bumped into rocks. There were several sets of rapids which made for a fun if a bumpy ride and interspersed with periods of deep calm. We saw several species of birds, including herons, egrets and a hawk and passed under looming cliffs. When we arrived back at base, we were handed the strongest rum punches we have ever tasted. It was so strong that we decided we would have to go and lie down on nearby Mero beach to recover - after a couple of Kubuli beers of course. We bumped into a Canadian couple we had met in Roseau who are now anchoring there - one of only two boats there and decided that we will go and anchor there this week too and have some beach time.
Luciano’s sister has taken to boat life like a duck to water and Dominica is one of the best places in the world to enjoy the water!
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