Dominica - an island in transition. It is amazing. There is only 70 000 people on Dominica and eight volcanos - more volcanos than any other island. Presently it is likely the poorest and least developed island in the chain. But that is changing. They are going after the tourist trade and have a beautiful island for display. Their target is the Eco-Tourist and they back this up with numerous rain forest hikes, river tours, an aerial lift through the rain forest tree tops where the parrots fly, a working Carib Indian village and more. Most of the island seems to be park land. When we arrived at Portsmouth, we found the boat vendors that greeted us friendly and helpful. They all have taken lessons on how to greet visiting yachts and it shows. Gone are the aggressive sales tactics of the past. Even in town no-one begged from us, although they were more than willing to show their goods and barter for a sale.
Our initial contact was David, one of the water taxi operators. These water taxis buzz around the anchorage and will pick you up from your boat and take you wherever for a reasonable fee. They will also arrange island tours. Most are also registered tour guides for the nearby Indian river. This was a must tour for us so we booked a time with David for Saturday morning. We didn't realize that there is always a party in town on Friday night - one that actually lasted until 5:00am Saturday morning. We know, as the music was quite clear in our boat as we tried to sleep. We thought David seemed very happy when we changed our pickup time to Saturday afternoon as there were rain showers in the morning when we got up. David arrived promptly at Vagus at the appointed hour and we were off. At the start of the river, he shut down the engine and took out oars - engines are not allowed on the river. He then took us on an hour excursion, about a quarter mile up the river, explaining the various trees, plant and animal life that abounded along the banks. The growth along the banks was incredible. Karen averaged a picture every minute and a half - thankfully we have a digital camera. We even saw another spot where a segment of the Pirates of The Caribbean was shot (I think they covered the whole of the Caribbean). About a quarter mile in, we came to an old plantation garden that was being developed into a rest spot. We were able to walk the garden and enjoy a rum punch called Dynamite (two glasses and you will see crocodiles on the river). David then took us on a leisurely tour down the river and back to our boat - a great day.
We also managed to walk to Fort Shirley one afternoon. Our friends on Legend had just arrived and said that the walk was well worthwhile. They were right. The fort is one of the numerous forts put up by the British or French - in this case British - and is being beautifully restored. A dock for cruise ships has been put in at it's base so it looks like it will be a busy place in the future, although we didn't see any ships using it while we were there. Forts, of course, are always on the top of hills that make for an interesting climb/hike. I still do not know how they got all those cannons up there.
The anchorage got really rolly on Sunday night. It was difficult sleeping while our skeletons were being rolled about in our skins. Monday started out rainy so, with Legend, we decided to head out. Next stop is the Isles des Saintes!