Dominica, April 24-28, 2009

Click on the above thumbnail for a map during this time period

We have been to Dominica many times before.  A rugged mountainous island with lots of rain (and therefore rivers), it is one of our favorites.  It is an eco-destination.  Rather than repeat ourselves, we refer you to our previous posts for the north end of Dominica:  Here and there.  This time, we were in the company of good friends Steve and Linda (Seaman's Elixir) and new friends Keith and Susan (Island Roamer).  We told them about our last-time discovery of Heaven's Best, a restaurant several miles north of Portsmouth, and so we all took a taxi up one evening.  They don't serve alcohol, but they encourage BYOBing.  Laden with many bottle of red wine, we arrived earlier than the dinner hour so that we could lounge beside their pool with drinks.  Their waitress (Kay) was most accommodating, and as the evening wore on it became evident that she was a. sharp witted b. a tease and c. an entirely competent waitress.  We had a marvelous time interacting with her.  Steve was sporting a sun burn on his face (what else is new!) and so she christened him "Pinky", and directed much of her humor toward him.  Those of you who know Steve know that he was perfectly capable of holding his own and yet ultimately encouraging more teasing rather than less.  Fun evening, and the food was delicious.  Cruisers,  when you stop at Portsmouth, call ahead for a reservation with them Heaven's Best and take a taxi up for a surprisingly sophisticated meal in a relaxed atmosphere.  Last time we were there, we told them about Chris Doyle, and they have since insured that they will be in the next issue of his guide.

This time in Portsmouth, we went on a number of short hikes in the area.  Martin (the best boat boy of them all) told us about a new dirt road that had recently been cleared as the advance preparation for a government-sponsored housing area.  We went on several hikes up the road and then past its end into a narrow path through forest and scrub, up and down ravines, that led to cleared patches where fruit and vegetables were being cultivated/nursed.  Passion fruit growing on vines on wire frameworks.  Rich mounds of soil nurturing newly-planted yams.  Mango trees.  Pineapples growing almost helter-skelter.  Coconut palm groves.  Soursop trees.  Pits for making charcoal.   We also "guided" Steve on a tour of some of the expansive Cabrits Park, site of Fort Shirley.

Land cleared for housing development -- seen from east peak of Cabrits National Park

Pineapples in newly prepared area way up in the hills -- far beyond the road

Examining hand-cut planks

Mounds all set for planting -- maybe yams?

Pit for making charcoal

On the road between The Purple Turtle restaurant/bar and Ft. Shirley, I remembered seeing last time a bizarre item in the ditch.  So I looked again this time.  The photos below show that "time waits for no mannequin".

Picture taken on last visit (Jan. 2009)

Picture taken on this visit (Apr. 2009)

Strange road-side stand along the way to the Fort

The Purple Turtle as seen from our boat


There was much socializing with Seaman's Elixir and Island Roamer, and much red wine was consumed.  And of course, when the event was on Seaman's Elixir, rum tasting was also involved.

Linda (Seaman's Elixir), Susan (Island Roamer), and Barb have moved on from red wine and are now sampling rums

Devi Sharp (Arctic Tern) has been writing a series of articles on sea birds for the magazine All At Sea, and I have been doing some of the photography for her articles.  She put out the call for pictures of terns, so I jumped in our dinghy and went around the corner of the west end of Cabrits, to a spot where I had noticed -- on a snorkeling expedition with "boat boy" Martin -- Royal Terns on a rock.  It was blowing stink, but there they were.  Here are two of the several pictures I sent to Devi: