Monday, June 29, 2015

Rivers, Fields and Lush Green Hills

Cloudy, squally, high winds whipping through the anchorage, tropical waves, but thankfully no hurricane activity so we are happily sitting in the Portsmouth anchorage awaiting the weather to settle a bit.  Perfect timing, since Dominica is an island of many enticing exploration possibilities.

This morning, right on the dot of 7 a.m., Albert arrived at the back of Mowzer to pick us up for a tour of the Indian River.  This is one of 365 Dominican rivers that flow to the sea from the reaches of the hills above, but unlike the others, this one finishes its bouldery descent about a mile inland creating a unique environment of brackish water, lush swamp ferns and magnificent bloodroot mangroves.  The river is protected as a national park and no gas engines are permitted so once at the entrance to the river, Albert pulled up the motor and employed two sturdy oars to propel us along in absolute tranquility.

As we crept deeper into the watershed all manner of bird and plant life revealed itself.  In the river, large tarpon hunted, smaller fish schooled and crabs dug a multitude of holes into the muddy riverbanks.


Golden Crested Heron

Green Backed Heron

Golden Crested Heron (standing on one leg)

The amazing artistry of the roots of the Bloodroot Mangrove tree.

Prostrate Rose

Bird of Paradise

last one ... this one has me stumped but quite beautiful nonetheless.
(Update - according to my good friend Alex, this is Heliconia - thanks Alex!)
The river was used for the witchdoctor scenes in Pirates of The Caribbean 2 and we certainly recognized a few spots along the way.  One of the buildings remains and there were a few atmospheric skeletons still hanging around but most movie artifacts have been removed.

And then there we were as far as the boat could take us, so we hopped out for a little walk along the banks which only sweetened our resolve to go for a hike for the afternoon.

Back at the boat we loaded up the backpacks for walking - it's amazing how much water you can go through in just a few hours clambering up and down those hills!

After a quick lunch in town while watching a cricket match - we're beginning to understand some of the basics of the game, we turned our way along the road for about a mile before turning off onto the Waitukubuli national trail, segment 11.

We're heading south down the gold trail.

More amazing trees, the stuff of scary movies!

We started off on an old rail line, making for some easy walking.

But soon abandoned the flat lowlands to start our ascent with views of the Cabrits and Portsmouth below.

Still on the right trail!

The canopy overhead lush with prehistoric fern-type trees.

And underfoot a variety of tiny lifeforms.
We huffed and puffed our way along the trail and up over two ridges.  The north-west facing hills were mostly plantations of banana, mango and papaya while the lush, wet, south-west facing hills were buried deep in dripping, muddy rainforest.  We crossed a number of rivers and creeks before finally reaching the Picard River that empties itself into the southern end of Prince Rupert Bay.  Our final landmark, this swaying but firmly clamped suspension bridge.

And this is where we ended with a road to the village in sight.

All told we covered about 7 miles and clambered up over 1000', sometimes climbing the slopes like ladders from root to root.  Hot and happily satisfied with our route we found our way back into town where we meandered through residential neighbourhoods and were surprised  by the local signage!

No tuba playing???

What can I add, by the time you've read this, you know where you stand!