Thursday, April 26, 2012

Back to reality!!!


Portsmouth, Dominica lies about 60miles north of Martinique. We were lucky enough to pick an Easterly wind for the crossing, which meant a quick reach for the first half of the trip, before making the lee of Dominica. Once there, it’s a sort of feast or famine, with the katabatic winds coming off the lush green mountains, for the final 30 miles to Portsmouth.
Coming up the coast, we had our closest ever encounter with Humpback whales……. 2m to starboard, and 1m to port! I was alerted to their proximity by Mary’s strangulated yodelling, as she looked down into the whale’s blowhole!
Portsmouth seems to be a meeting point, not only of whales, but also of Tall Ships. There were three at anchor when we arrived (“Sea Cloud”, “Royal Clipper”, and “Star Clipper”), and at least 3 others stopped over during the week.
Reality check 1
We were charged EC$ 68 instead of EC$ 8, (overtime!) because we arrived earlier on Sunday, even though we had filled in all the paperwork ourselves before arrival. I paid EC$ 70, but no change was forthcoming either.
Reality check 2
The EC$8 is an environmental levy, but there are no garbage facilities for yachts. You are expected to give your bags to a local, for a “small tax”, who promises to dispose of it when the truck comes by. Judging by the mess we saw in the street on our way to the customs office, they are just dumped in the road to await the truck, giving underfed dogs ample time to redistribute the trash.
Reality check 3
If you resist this system, and prefer to carry it all the way into town, to use the bins there, you are likely to be seriously sworn at…. As was Jeremy!
Reality check 4
An agreed price for a service is not binding! Having accepted an offer to buy coconut water for EC$5 a bottle, I was asked for EC$40 when it came to delivery!
Reality check 5
We decided to take the ladies to Big Papa’s for a Valentines Day lunch. We were offered chicken, pasta, or fish, which were the days “specials”. We were the first to order, and all chose fish, as we had had chicken the previous day, and were having it again for dinner! We received the most pathetically small piece of fish, for EC$30 per head, to which had to be added 15% for Vat, and 10% for service (non existent!!), making it EC$40, or R120 per head.  In Roseau the next day, we had a really good lunch for a total of EC$22 (R66), which just highlighted the Big Papa rip off!
Reality check 6
The Friday night music, which blasts across the anchorage, ended at 6.10 in the morning. Saturday nights are, reputed to be louder!!
Reality check 7
We are checking out a week early, despite the islands natural beauty, Rain Forests and hikes. Time to go to France again!!

 Perhaps it was just a case of Carnival Fever….. it certainly seemed to effect the crew of the Swedish flagged cruiser that arrived yesterday. “He” was a 300lb cube of transparent lard, with a crop of bright orange hair. We dubbed him “Fat Carrot”. “She” was a half sized version, with a full head of pink, purple and black “dreadlock” extensions. She was like a magnet to the boat boys, who flocked around like bees to a honeypot. Before long there were 4 boats hanging off the back of the cruiser, and the rum was flowing, and the weed glowing!
Mary took one look at this, and in her best Afrikaans, said “Hier kom K..K!” She was right!
 By 10.30pm, either the rum or the weed ran out, and “She” elected to go ashore with all the boatboys. This was not appreciated by Fat Carrot, and a full on Effing and Blinding screaming match took place, which she won,  hands down, as she left with the boat boys.

The following morning, when she had not returned to the boat, we heard his VHF radio appeals to the relevant boat boys ! He searched the shore with binoculars for any sign of her return, and eventually went ashore himself to search for her. Mary and I were now beginning to feel a bit concerned for her welfare, and sorry for him. Later that morning, however, we saw them reunited in a pub, drinking beer, and trying to avoid looking at each other!! When “Nature Boy”, the floating fruit and veg guy, came past, I asked what had happened. “She one hot chick ,and need a bit of luvin’” he tells us  Only in the Caribbean!!

Saturday is market day, and we enjoyed stocking up with lots of good quality, good value fresh fruit and veggies, (including 3litres of coconut water for EC$12), which has done much to restore our perception of Dominica! There are numerous Americans and Canadians who just love Dominica, but then perhaps because their currencies stretch a little further than ours, the odd rip off does not upset them so much!  

1 comment:

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