I went to one of my favourite places in Barbados, the Boatyard just outside Bridgetown. The sand on the beach was just perfect. I visit a lot of beaches and I’m not always pleased with the amount of pebbles and foliage and general detritus mixed in the sand. Often I want to take a rake to it. I was joined by Graham and Karen who are two casino friends from Felixstowe. Apparently I need to put Felixstowe on the bucket list. An easy beach day with some frolicking in the sea on the rope swing and high diving board.
Some other friends from the casino, Steve and Leslie tried their luck at Sandy Lane in search of a game of golf. The Green Monkey course is fairly exclusive and they were quoted $4,000 for two. That’s $111 per hole for each of them. They declined the kind offer and tried the buffet lunch instead. That was $300 per person so once again they declined. And to think I’m moaning about the cost of O’Douls no alcohol beer.
Dominica is a country in it’s own right after gaining independence from Britain in 1978. The total land area of 290 square miles, larger than St Lucia but with less than half the population at 73,000. We docked on the capital, Roseau which had a basic cruise ship set up consisting of a small jetty and a few spigots to hook the ropes on. I liked that about the place. The absence of dozens of duty free shops gave it a more authentic feel. In its time, Dominica has been both a Leeward Island and a Windward Island as it marks the dividing line between the two. The Windward Islands are located in the southern part of the Caribbean Sea and are usually the larger islands.
I was heading out with the Australian four – Barbs, John, Patsy and Judith although she’s not really Judith. She’s been in witness protection for about 40 years so no one in her present life knows her real identity. The refuses to be in any photographs. Our first task was to find a suitable tour guide. I got talking to a chap called Hazel Jean-Marie who despite having three girls names was a very likeable chap indeed. However, as often as not, they are not the people who will be taking you on the tour, merely the likeable sales people. You buy the tour guide as much as you buy the tour so I asked to meet the driver who happened to be Hazel’s 26 year old daughter Brian. Only kidding, she had the gender appropriate name, Deirdra.
She turned out to be the best guide I’ve had in any of the islands. Knowledgeable, funny, accommodating to our every whim and with an adorably infectious laugh.
The overriding impression of Dominica is how green and hilly it is. Lush and verdant and remarkably tidy in a region of the world not noted for responsible litter practices. Our first stop was Titou Gorge and the drive took us up into the winding hills where the temperature became somewhat cooler. Once there we saw people in swimwear and floatation devices disappearing through some rocks and Barbs decided it was a good idea. Barbs swims 2km round Shark Island every Sunday morning with about 20 other fatalistic nutters so clearly has an adventurous streak. Barbs, John and I hired the necessary equipment for two bucks and swam inside the gorge with 30ft walls either side revealing a strip of daylight above us. The water was cool but not testicle disappearing cold and after a couple of minutes we reached the waterfall at the end which was creating quite a powerful current. Like swimming in a resistance pool. It was my highlight of the day and it was only 10:30. Fabulous experience.
From there we drove by the Water House and an overlook heading toward Trafallgar Falls which were impressive and required a rum punch afterwards. Boy they make them strong.
Deirdra still lives at home with her parents and I asked her why she wasn’t married to which she replied that she was related to three quarters of the population. Must be tricky. Back in Roseau we paid Deirdra off and strolled around. There was no trace of menace in Roseau and it felt as safe as St Barts. Dominica means Sunday in Latin, named because it was first sighted on 3rd of November 1493 which was a Sunday. They were creative in those days. They get about 150 cruise ships per year between October and April. A very nice island and I’d like to come back someday.