Thursday, July 2, 2015

Just How Much Hiking Can Two People Do??

My feet were definitely asking that question this morning, and my hips, and my knees.  So, today is a day of rest and I am taking advantage of the great quick wifi we have at the moment (it's a paid-for service but at $50/month with unlimited access that is working pretty good in this anchorage, I'm a happy sailor.)

The last few days have been a time of intense exploration all around the Portsmouth area so I'll warn you now - this is quite a long post (really two in one), but enjoy the walk with us!

We started with the Indian River and the Waitukubuli Trail and then on Tuesday and Wednesday we went off in other directions.

Tuesday - south and up into the Morne Diabloton foothills to the Syndicate Trail:

We engaged the services of a guide for this one.  As it turned out the hiking was very straight forward, but having a guide with a vehicle and knowing the windy turning mountain roads, along with his wealth of knowledge about the plant and animal life made for a truly educational (and bountiful) day.

Winston picked us up at 8am from the river guides dock and we headed up into the hills southeast of Portsmouth.  Immediately off the highway, we climbed up through lush plantations of banana, plantain, cassava, dasheen, grapefruit, oranges, limes, corn, coffee, cocoa, coconut, mangos, papaya, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger ... and many more that I've forgotten.

Winston picking Guava for us to sample.

At the edge of a mixed plantation - citrus trees, but all the fruit is currently green so I can't tell if it's orange, lime or grapefruit, but Winston could tell me.

Planting plantain to replace crops wiped out by disease.

Very few fences here, but hedgerows of flowering bushes add a riot of colour to the scene.

Unripe nutmeg, from which comes the well-known spice, but also the lesser known mace - a red, lacy-like covering over the nut that is dried and also used in baking.

A tea made with these flowers will help ease the common cold.
We then made our way into the old-growth rain forest where we learned the names of many different trees, very few of which I can remember.  What was most interesting was that most of the names are French Creole and if you listen carefully you can figure out the characteristics of the tree:  Bwa Blan (bois blanc - white wood), Gommier (gum), Bwa Ti Fey (bois petit feuille - small leaf wood).

Lots of good interpretive signs along the way.

The grand gommier, originally used by the Caribs to build dugout canoes.

Budding ferns, like fiddleheads on steroids, but not eaten here.

The old growth kept the undergrowth at bay making for a very open walk.

Along the cliff's edge we searched the canopy for the elusive parrots (Sissero and Jacco) that we could hear but never see.
We finished up our half-day excursion with a walk up to Syndicate Falls.  The most amazing part of this hike is that due to a curve in the stream, you don't really have an inkling of the fall's existence until you round the corner and they are laid out right there in front of you - quite an awing experience.

Winston led us over and around the rocks in the river - can you see his fancy 'hiking shoes'?

Quite stunning as you come round the corner.

And there we were, at the Syndicate Falls.
We gathered up our bounty and said our goodbye's to Winston and once back at the boat it felt like market day as we spread out our wares.  Some were for eating and some just curiosity, but all fresh from the tree that morning.

Mangos of different varieties on the left, Cocoa at the top sitting on Lemon Grass, Guava, unripe Nutmeg and Ginger at the bottom.

Wednesday - north from Portsmouth walking along the coast to Capuchin:

This time self-guided and with map in hand we headed north, but not before a little Canada Day decorating and lunch at the Purple Turtle.  As an aside, the island of Dominica is also know as Waitukubuli which is the native word for "Tall Is Her Body".  The local lager brew is call Kubuli sold in small bottles, so the running joke is, "Waitukubuli? - Because one is never enough!"

Mowzer all dressed up in her Canada Day bunting.

Lunch at The Purple Turtle - we are anchored just off the beach where this restaurant is located and have thought about their fried chicken and mahimahi for the last few days.

Testing the "why 2 Kubuli" theory.

Once full from our delicious lunch, we set off along the trail from the Cabrits, heading north to Douglas Bay.  We ended up on the road and in fact this part of the Waitukubuli Trail follows the road for its entire segment; very much a rural exploration through many small villages and plantations.

Looking down into Toucari Bay with its little church at the north end.

The road down to the village was cut into this amazing wall of sandstone.

Flowering flamboyant trees framed our view through the village.

Everyone we met was so friendly and would stop us to chat - ask us how our day was going, where we were heading and where we were from.  This one just stood and bleated at us.

Part of the new road going in on the hillside.  This guy was working super hard to push the pounding compactor up the grade.  Once again, notice his footwear!

Toucari is a working fishing village - we watched the fishermen hauling in their nets and the locals congregated at the end of the day to purchase the catch.
North of Toucari we hiked up and down the hills - at the top of each was a village with colourful houses, children playing in yards and the odd little bar or shop for minimal supplies.  Between each village we plunged back down to river-beds tumbling down to the ocean and found the occasional place to cool off in the afternoon heat.

The villages of Cottage, Cocoyer, Clifton and Capuchin were friendly busy little places varying in size from a handful to perhaps 100 inhabitants, but everywhere we were greeted and smiled upon.

Colour in the trees and on the houses.

Such a welcome and refreshing dip - I for one did not want to leave this idyllic spot.

Community pride.

Walking up the hill to Clifton, where old cannon still guard the approach from Guadeloupe.

More beautiful flowers - this one reminded me of daddy-long-legs.

Many years ago one of the first cruising books I read was called, "An Embarrassment of Mangos".  Now I know what Anne, the author meant.  The smell of fermenting fruit in the gutter is now embedded in my scent memory.

After three and a half hours and about 10 km, we reached the village of Capuchin, almost at the northern end of Dominica.  We could feel the wind starting to rise off the Atlantic and one person we passed warned Henry to hang onto me so I wouldn't get blown away.  However, time was marching on faster than us and with three hours to get back to Mowzer (we knew we'd walk faster on the return journey), we decided we really should turn around.  Although it's a full moon, our feet were growing weary and we didn't have a great desire to complete our walk in the dark.

We found a spur trail that took us along the "beach", but this was pretty hard walking for any great distance.  Those are the Cabrits in the distance and our final destination on the other side of them.

We made it back as the light was fading and found the dinghy just where we had left her, tied up to the best dock at our end of the bay!
Dominica has now shown us river, forest, plantation, bustling town, quiet village, and an almost incomprehensible abundance of fruit and friendliness.  This is the perfect place to have to wait out the next few days of rough weather!