In due course we arrive in a tranquil Dominican Harbour with glassy blue water, palm trees on shore and dozens of small timber bumboats coming alongside to sell us limes, mangos, on shore tours and you name it. This is a former British colony so we can speak the lingo and do a bit of bargaining with the guys on the bumboats. Most of these guys are friendly and happy but one individual has lots of attitude and also tries to con us. He even demands a can of beer which we refused before giving him the bum's rush.
One of the tour offerings involves a late afternoon trip up the Indian River into the nearby rainforest. We signed up for this excursion on learning that we'll be picked up and dropped off at our own vessel. So convenient and we couldn't knock it back. It turned out to be both pleasant and good value for money. A few photos appear below on this webpage.
Just in case skipper Alan was thinking of another seven hour sail we thwarted any such plans by lining up a taxi and driver to take us on an island exploration tour the following day. We awoke next day feeling a little hung over because a shore side cafe had been belting out reggae music until about 3.00am and it was clearly audible in our cabins. Still, a quick plunge into the aqua blue water followed by a delicious al fresco brekkie in Cerulean's spacious rear cockpit and we're all ready to go. The bum boat chauffer arrives exactly on time, ferries us ashore and passes us over the shore transport chauffer and we're all hot to trot. Dominica here we come.
As we move up from the coast and into the jungle it become clear that our driver George (name changed to protect his identity) knows a lot about the local flora. He shows us many bush foods and also well known spices like cinnamon and wild vanilla just growing wild in the jungle. He then explains their nature and how they are used by the local people. He really makes our tour most interesting.
The roads are very narrow and quite hazardous due to deep drainage ditches on one side of the road and steep drop-offs on the opposite side. But George is a skilled driver and doesn't drive in a reckless way so we feel reasonably safe. All is revealed when he tells us that this Toyota SUV is his boss's personal transport.
George takes us into a tiny hillside village and spots his old school headmaster, Cyril Thomas. Lot's of chat chat and introductions whereupon we are invited into a private home where the lady of the house specialises in making various kinds of cocktails based upon rum (naturally), coconut (naturally) and many different secret ingredients. In retrospect one of them may have been cannabis perhaps? Well we all try a few different concoctions and finally Brian bought a bottle of one type and asks the lady to sign the label, perhaps to provide his legal Executor with some evidence if worse comes to worst. Then it seemed wise to drag good old George away, given that the roads are very challenging and we have a long way to go before the day is done.
The rest of the morning passes pleasantly (thanks to the mid morning cocktails) and George then takes us to a simple oceanside cafe for lunch. We each chose various kinds of Caribbean food which included a number of local veggies we've never had before and probably won't have again. We weren't shown a menu but we were informed what had been cooked for this day. The owner probably charged us double the usual local price but the food was very tasty and far from expensive in our eyes.
Late in the afternoon we arrived at a small jungle car park where a steep track leads down to "Emerald Pool". We make our way down a long winding track of hand hewn stone and dirt steps through beautiful lush jungle rainforest. The going was not too hard for the young ones but Brian observed that not one of the 300 or so steps was the same width or same height as any other step in the staircase. He reaches the bottom very puffed and wondering how he'll make it back up again. He's certainly in no condition to take a swim in the Emerald Pool but Matt accepts the dare notwithstanding the fact that he has no swimming cozzie or towel and is wearing his best formal dinner shorts
After a very long day we thought we were nearing home but George swerved off into a village where he seemed very well known, stopped the car and seemed to engage in some suspicious merchandising transactions !! In due course he got back into the car and our tour resumed. George finally got us home in the early evening and by then we were darned pleased to call it a day. All in all it was pretty good value at US$50 per person for an entire day with our own personal guide and chauffer.
Next morning a enterprising Dominican gentleman paddles up to the back of our boat on a very old, rather small and VERY moth-eaten surfboard. He offers to ferry our garbage ashore for a few dollars and as the garbage keeps accumulating at an alarming rate our skipper accepts the offer with alacrity.
Today is a sad day because a week has now passed. Matt and Trish have to leave the cruise at this point and make their way to Las Vegas where a friend is going to be married by a look-alike Elvis Presley in a few days time. Fortunately Lynn and Brian have another five days to go before ending their cruise.