Friday, March 30, 2012


On Wednesday, the 28th, we set sail for Roseau, the capital of Dominica around 8:00 pm. The route suggested in the chart was a bit confusing, since the several way points first take one away from the island, which we thought was necessary for getting the wind advantage, and bring very close to one of the points, then zig zag out again. We could not see the rationale behind it, but decided to set the course accordingly for a change.

After an hour of motor sailing, we realized the wind was constantly on the wrong side, we were going south, and wind was coming from starboard (west) or on the nose, so the sails became a hindrance. So we dropped them halfway on the three-hour trip, which improved our speed. Then we started to see fish traps on our starboard, in the incredibly deep waters much farther away from land. It appears that the route was set to keep the boats in the safe area from fishermen. You know, the biggest danger in these waters is people, mostly the nets that the fishermen drop in all kinds of unlikely places, over thousands feet of water. They are unpredictable, and sometimes unavoidable. I am always on the look-out for them, especially around the islands. At first I expected to see them close to shore, on shallow shelves or banks, but lately we found out that fish nets can be set on deep waters around the islands as well. What to do is not all that simple, and that fact makes me weary of night sailing close to shore.

Anyway, we motored down to Roseau in about three and half hours, and caught a mooring ball halfway across the bay, close to the Anchorage Hotel. When we got the mooring area, an islander in the telltale wooden boat approached us, but we shouted that we were looking for Pancho, who was recommended by Cobra (Andrew O’Brian) of Portsmouth. When he heard the name, he let us be. However, Pancho did not show up immediately, and we started to get worried, since the mooring balls were few and far between. We approached one, but got discouraged from the ball’s general condition. We turned around and started approaching some moorings which seemed to be available close to the Dominica Marine Centre; but Pancho came in a gray dinghy, and saluted us, as well as showed us a different kind of mooring made of blue and white jerry jugs. We were thankful, because fishing out the pennants would be an ordeal. We got tied up in no time with his help; we also gave him our empty cooking gas tank to be filled. He told us to get settled for the day, and he would arrange a sight-seeing tour for the next morning.

On Thursday, the 29th, at 9:00 am we were ready at the Drop Anchor Restaurant/Bar to be picked up by the driver, who turned out to be a nice middle-aged islander called Cornell. Two more couples joined us, a young couple, Dylan and Sally from London, England and two retirees like us; John and Anita. Dylan and Sally had bought their tartan boat in Grenada eight weeks before and started their trip from the other end; John and Anita had been living on their boat called Bright Eyes for the last eight years, and going in the same direction with us. We saw their boat in St Martin and other places, and had met John in Portsmouth.

Cornell showed us two places to swim in fresh water, and both were amazing. The road trips were not too long, we did some hiking and skipped over rocks and boulders, but the water falls we found and swam under were almost magical.
First we went to “The Gorge”, where we hiked through the dense forest, passed alongside a large water pipe made of wood, apparently by a Canadian company, walked through a narrow bridge over the canopy of the forest, and reached a narrow and shallow pool of water that did not look like anything.

Cornell showed us the concrete steps going into the pool, and said start swimming. He just stood there, looking into the wilderness. John and Anita did not have bathing suits on, so they sat around, while we, the young and young at heart, soldiered on. As soon as we got into the cold water (not as cold as the Canadian lakes, but much cooler than the Caribbean sea), we saw that it was a narrow but deep creek in a high cave, which almost got completely dark, save for the opening at the winding end. I was following the others and became out of breath to keep up. When we reached the light at the end of the tunnel, it was the river rapids, cascading into the cave. Swimming towards it was almost impossible; I got to the far side of water and got hold of stone wall to proceed towards it. Trying to stay in close proximity to the rapids was an amazing experience. When we returned, it was a free ride with the current, the strength of which I had not felt on the way.

Cornell also showed us another creek falling down to a lower level which was hot, and said that an American company had started to build a Geo-thermal power plant, the energy of which Dominica was getting ready to sell to Martinique and Guadeloupe. According to Cornell forty percent of Dominica’s energy consumption was from hydro generation, coming from some of the 365 rivers that mostly cascade down the mountains. Nobody talks about solar around here!

Anyway, next stop was at Trafalgar Falls, which is a major tourist attraction and part of a park system with user fees. At the gate we listened to a spiel from the official about the one week pass being US$12.00 dollars, as opposed to the entry fee for every part in the park being US$5.00 dollars etc. We asked Cornell if there were two more attractions in the park, and he mentioned the Freshwater Lake and Soufriere. We asked about the lake, and he said that it was a big lake, nothing special. So we paid our 5.00 dollars and headed towards Trafalgar.
When we reached the gates of the trail through a nice building, Cornell claimed that he was not allowed to proceed with us, and urged us to go alone. We took the trail, which was marked at the beginning. I was ahead of the group, and walked up to a look-out gazebo facing the two waterfalls, when I saw everybody turning to another trail going down, which seemed more logical if we wished to swim in the lake at the bottom. So we walked some minutes, while Al was reminding us that the voices of people having fun in the falls were getting weaker by the minute, and of course we came full circle back to the spot we had started (a good thing!).

When we went back to the gazebo, we saw that there were some steps going down to the real trail, and we reached the group of children jumping into the multiple shallow pools of cold water. While skipping on some boulders to get there, Al stepped into a small creek, and exclaimed that it was hot. The creek had whitish green water and some red patches on the surrounding round rocks, almost smooth but a little slippery from the constant flow of the water, containing some sulphur, over them. We checked the water at the pools full of children and it was cold. No need to go into them, not very appealing anyway with screaming children.

We followed the hot creek, and found the pools that we were looking for. It looked a bit murky and too hot to the touch; but once we got used to the heat, so relaxing! Almost like a hot-tub, completely belonging to us. I think we spent half an hour; then the others wished to check out the cold pools. I stood guard over our back-packs, while I tried to dry my bathing suit. Sitting in the car in wet clothes is not healthy, but there is never enough time or sun in the high altitudes in the forest. After some minutes Al came back, and urged me to go there, to at least look at the view. So I jumped over some boulders in all fours, and got to the side where the waterfall was seen with all its majesty. The view down on the other side was also amazing, we were somewhere in the middle of the canyon, between the mountain and the valley.

Unfortunately we had to go back, John and Anita were waiting, and it was almost 1:00 pm; we had ordered our lunch at the River Rock Café on the way, where we bought our park tickets. So we directly went to the restaurant and had a good meal, a couple of beers. The whole thing was exhausting, but felt so good!

The last stop was the Botanical Gardens, almost in the city of Roseau. It was sparsely built among interesting looking and ancient (huge) trees. The rubber tree was amazing, which looked like wooden pipes tied together for its trunk, at least ten meters long, then branches and leaves, with thin parasite branches coming down at all directions. The bark looks like rough leather; hence the islanders call it leather tree.

Another interesting plant was the different type of bamboo, which was planted around a large opening, and their tick branches were cut in such a way that the created a wall, which looked like straw from a distance, but very hard and sturdy.
Cornell showed us three parrots in a large cage, which are the insignia of Dominica, which we had seen around a forest near Portsmouth. It appears that they are extinct around the southern side of the island.

Tomorrow we will spend time around town, check out the awesome produce market, and get ready for the passage to Martinique. It seems that we finished the Leeward Islands, here we come Windwards!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chaudiere & the Indian River

I was a bit sceptical about the promise, but got ready at 8:00 o’clock, just in case. Well he did not disappoint us; his guidance was much more professional and informative. He showed us his knowledge of botany, made us taste some fruits which he harvested on the spot with his meshedi. It is a scary sight, these men with different sized meshedis running around in the forests, but it is part of their lives, they eat as they go along. From lemon grass to coconuts, papayas, mangoes and cocoa grow in the wild. Bananas, pineapples are grown by the villagers. Apparently Dominica’s main crop had been bananas lately, which are hard to tend. Cobra showed us the blue plastic bags covering each bundle of banana like a cocoon, which would take nine months to mature. Each banana plant (not tree as we were told many times) gives one crop, then it is cut so that a new shoot would take hold.

The most interesting plant for me was the pineapple; it grows on short stems with thin, long and gray leaves in the ground, like a vegetable. We saw some miniature pineapples that looked like pine cones with a crown, which were to mature in some time. For Al of course, the main attraction was the cocoa fruit. Cobra cut a yellow fruit from a tree, looking like an overgrown pine cone, rough and prickly on the outside. He cut it open, and exposed a bundle of stones thinly covered with a slimy white substance. He gave a stone to each, and instructed to suck on, not bite. The white substance is slightly sweet/sour, but tasty with a little aroma. The cocoa comes from the stone, after a long process of drying/roasting/grinding etc. Cobra confessed that he used to suck on a whole bunch everyday on the way to school. Cocoa is good all-around it seems.

We were also lucky to see two parrots flying in the canopy of the rain forest. Apparently two kinds of parrots were only found in Dominica, which is the reason for its being the insignia on their flag. Cobra indicated that the parrots were now protected by the state, since the poachers diminished their population selling them as pets around the world.

The way to Chaudiere was quite scary and bumpy, since most of it was wild country. After half an hour of driving us in the van, he made us walk down a path to the river rapids, which formed a small pool at a turn. It had heavily rained the night before, so the path was kind of muddy, but tolerable until we had to cross over some rocks in water to get to the pool. Al and I changed into our wet-shoes, which had better grip, and we managed with some caution, since the water was running really fast. It was also important to be careful on where to step on and what to hold on to, yellow/black fierce looking big crabs were everywhere, on land and water. After the hot ordeal of reaching the water, jumping from the cliff (only Cobra) or getting in on all fours by holding on to the boulders, was very refreshing. We spent half an hour in the water, half submerged because we were too scared to go to the deep area, which was whirling around like a washing machine among the rocks. Then it was time to climb back, the route of which was shorter than the ascent, but steeper, with natural steps formed out of some roots sticking out of the ground.

When we returned to Cobra’s office to pay, we were much happier than the day before. Cobra then arranged for us the Indian River tour, and left. While we were waiting in the office for the guide, a scary looking Rastafarian came in, who turned out to be only guide available. He mumbled his name as Ron or something like that. I guess I appeared to have shown some displeasure, since the secretary whispered if I would prefer someone else. I declined, and said that he was fine. The secretary gave me two free passes for drinks at the bar, at the only stop on the river, and off we went. Just the two us and Ron.

The vegetation on that slow moving and very shallow river was really different. It was lined with some incredibly tall trees, whose exposed roots turned into curving branches on the ground. According to Ron they were at least two hundred years old. Ron also pointed out the different species of birds and iguanas, as well as gave the names of some other trees. He kept us entertained until we reached the bar with no walls, at a clearing in dense vegetation. Some of the chairs were crudely caved from tree trunks, but very comfortable. I tried the drink “dynamite”, which was recommended by Cobra’s secretary. It turned out to be very sweet and spicy, not my usual thing, but fun.

It is such a pity to see the primitive state of the roads leading to the wonders of nature, so interesting for the visitors, but hardly accessible. Cobra blamed the politicians for the bad repairs of once better roads on the mountains, while highways being built by the Chinese (probably as a part of some foreign aid), all the equipment and labourers imported. The reason for not using local labour force; politics. Does not make sense, but probably true. Cobra explained that the guides got together to organize their business, bringing security to their area; and they would probably have to deal with the roads themselves, which were important for them. It seems that they are making enough money from the visiting yachts, by their professional yet warm and humorous service. However, Cobra hinted some complaints about the young generation, who were not taking things as seriously as themselves, giving Robert as an example. He said the young guys were usually concerned with their appearance, and would not jump into water to preserve their braided hair etc. Apparently he is keeping a tight leash on his staff, since he tries to get feedback from the customers. The impression I got from Cobra s that he is sleek, as the name implies. On the whole Dominica experience is very interesting and heartwarming.

Island Tour

Cobra told us to be ready at 9:00 am for the tour of the island which included swimming in a waterfall. He picked us up with his wooden boat, and went to another yacht to get two more French couples, only one of them speaking some English. I was not very happy, but had nothing to say. At shore, two more French couples joined us. Cobra set me aside, and whispered that our guide Robert spoke more English than French. OK, we will try to make it a go.

We filled the minivan, and started a journey on the west coast, turned into the land up to the east coast, and came back to Portsmouth round 4:30 pm. On the way, Robert showed us the different plants and flowers, stopped the car several times to bring in samples. Then he brought us to the entrance of the waterfall, between some huts with locked doors. We looked down, but could not see much of a waterfall, just some slippery steps going down a dark canyon. As soon as I took a step down, Robert said that we had to pay US$3.00 dollars per person, since that place was owned privately. There we lived a confusion, the others in the party claimed that the price should have covered the whole thing, and would not pay a cent extra, except the lunch. To tell you the truth, we had not talked any price with Cobra, since I had only asked about the Indian River tour, which he mentioned as US$26.00 dollars. I asked the nice young lady, who was trying to communicate with us in half French/half English, about the price they had settled, and she told me US$60.00 dollars. I thought it a bit steep for a bus tour, but nothing we could do at that point. Anyway, we decided not to go down for the fall, where we were supposed to jump into the natural pool. That did not happen; instead Robert opened up the cooler in the van, and gave us bananas and rum punch. I found it too strong at 11:30 am, so went easy on it. After ten minute brake, back on the road. Around 1:00 pm we reached a small hut of a restaurant, with an awesome view, but the deck in front was under construction, so we had to sit inside. We had a very good meal there, and told them to hurry up and finish the deck, which would add to the ambiance tremendously.

Robert took us to a pace called “Red Rock”; a large area at the foot of the east side of a mountain reaching the see with high cliff, which looked like several mini canyons parallel to each other. Apparently it was the effluent of one of the six dormant volcanos of Dominica. The mineral concentration was mostly iron, hence the red colour. Heavy rains over the years must have compacted the ash into soil, which looked and felt like red concrete, and water opened the deep grooves. The barren rock formation was really different than the lush vegetation all around, most of it rain forests, with high trees with many different parasite plants covering them, making them dense and dark.

Whatever Robert did, the party, including us, was not happy with sitting in the van all day, and looking at the numerous nice beaches we passed by without being able to swim, despite wearing the bathing suits all day.
Robert took us to the beginning of the Indian River, where Cobra met us. He said that the two hour tour was to start in five minutes. Al was tired, I was groggy and we hesitated, and suggested doing it in the morning instead. Cobra accepted, but two couples from our party had to leave the next morning, so they went ahead. We saw that some other people also appeared and filled he wooden row boat (power boats are not allowed), and took off.

Cobra first talked to the two remaining couples from our party, and came to us, while we were waiting to be taken to our boat. He offered to take the whole remaining group to another tour the next morning free of charge, where he personally would guide us to a natural pool under another fall called Chaudiere. Of course we accepted, and wet back to our boats together. On the way, the young lady asked Cobra to stop at a different boat, which belonged to her friends, who had just arrived in Portsmouth. They hugged each other warmly, while we waved good bye, until we would see them in the morning.

Dominica At Last

I had read really good things about Dominica, and have been looking forward to going there. In the chart, the passage from Pointe-a Pitre, Guadeloupe (middle of the island, full of reefs) was described as a glorious reach; however, because we were on the west coast, our angle was not as favourable. The chart mentioned the only drawback of the sail south, as the funnel effect of the channel with The Saints, which are located at the south of Guadeloupe; and gave a tip for overcoming the funnel effect as starting early in the morning, before the land warmed up. No problem for us, we weighed anchor at 6:45 am, and opened up the sails about an hour later, in the middle of the channel. Wind was 10-15 knots, close reach, but easily pushed us forward until we came to the lee of The Saints around 8:30 am. After that, there was a temporary lull, until the trades started, and Al was not happy with the 4 miles an hour we were making. I urged him to be patient, since it is known that trades come around 9:00 am and get stronger every hour, until mid-day. The current pushed us towards west, but we did not change our south-east course in order to get the full wind. For a while our progress was slacked due to the currents, but then picked up tremendously, when we had to reef our sails, a little before reaching Portsmouth, Dominica around 1:30 pm.

The lee of Dominica is real; wind died down when we were two miles away from the bay, so we fired up the engines and entered the area loaded with sail boats. A wooden power-boat approached, asking if we needed help, but we refused, mentioning the name of one of the trusted ones given in the sailing guide. There were a couple of mooring balls left, so we approached to one, but the pennant was completely submerged, since there was no floater. While we were trying our hand, another islander came by on a flat plastic kayak, and offered to take us to another ball. I just asked him to help with the pennant in front of us, and he did. It was a great help, otherwise we would not be able to reach down. Al has a theory that the floaters might be cut away by these people, to create business for themselves. Possible, but they are such a nice bunch of people; they work hard for the few dollars they make running after the yachtsmen.

After we settled, Andrew Cobra came by, who was highly recommended by the sailing guide who provided guidance and yacht services, and he looked like a nice man. We invited him to our boat, and asked him many questions about getting fuel, water, laundry service and having some tours on the island. He offered to get everything done by the morning, and took our laundry to be washed by his people. He also told us to be ready in the morning, so that he would arrange with the cruise ship dock officials, where water and fuel were available. Saturday morning was also the market day, and Cobra promised to take us there. He said that he would come by around 8:00 am.

Saturday (March 23rd) morning at 7:30 am, we were ready to go to the docks, which was five minutes away, at the side of the Cabrit Mountains and beside the Cabrits National Museum. Al fired up the engines and called Cobra, who promised to join us there. Before I let the mooring ball go, Al tied the dinghy to the ball, since we had paid for two nights; we had to protect our spot. The day before and earlier in the morning, the whole bay was as calm as could be. As soon as I let the lines go, a breeze started, coming from almost the south. As we approached to the docks, which were much higher than our deck, I started to get worried, but saw a man fishing there, who showed the sign that he would help. We approached to the middle part, protruding even more, seeing the industrial outlets for water and fuel. There were huge truck tires hanging on the sides as fenders, so we quickly pulled our own up, to protect them from squishing in between them and breaking away by the strong wind, which was pushing us onto the dock. I threw the lines to the guy, who tied them loosely, so Al had to jump up and reinforce them. He put in three more lines to keep us in place. By the time we settled, Cobra showed up and helped the lady warden untangle the water hose. When asked about the price, she said “use as much as you like, the set price is 15.00 EC dollars for the whole thing”. She also claimed that the water was drinking quality. I believed her, its source must be in the mountain park, pristine as can be. When she and another guy pried the wheel on the industrial size valve to turn it on the water started gushing, but they told me hold off filling, until fresh water started to come. So I washed the deck, the windows, back side, while they laughed and chatted with Al. Cobra was saying, “Hey clean all the salt, we have lots of water!” However, wasting water is against my nature, so I would rather fill our tanks and get out of there. No can do, since fuel guy was not to come until 11:00/11:30 am.

After water was done, Cobra said that we could leave Ruyam II there and offered to take us across the bay to the town square for market shopping. The market was just like in Turkey, there was a closed section, but the real market was lined on the streets, so lively and colourful, that we spent an hour there, talking to the vendor ladies and buying the ripe tomatoes, and really organically grown green vegetables. They even had water melons, first time I saw grown in the Caribbean. We had bought some slices in BVI, but they looked like they were from the US. I had a grand time, but we returned to Cobra’s wooden power boat, to wait for him. Then I saw some fishermen taking small fish from the nets, to be sold in the market. I thought the fish could not be fresher than that, so I bought about ten of them to try, for 3.00 EC. The fish looked like miniature swordfish, with a bony part protruding from its head. When Cobra saw that, he could not understand how I could buy such lowly fish, and said I would not be able to clean them; so he took them away to be cleaned, and promised to bring it to the boat later. I guess only the poor eat this fish.

The hardest thing to find in the islands lately was bank machines which accept our debit cards. We have usually better luck with Scotiabank (my account), rather than TD Canada Trust cards. Scotiabank has a presence in all the islands so far, but the other banks do not recognize its card. Same thing happened that day; we could get some money out of our BVI Scotiabank account (although same general bank, branches work separately). However, all the machines accept credit cards, so Visa all the way lately. I can only access my account from a Scotiabank machine. We heard about one in Portsmouth, but could not get there yet. Maybe tomorrow. Tomorrow is also Indian River tour.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


When we checked the charts we estimated that it would be a trip of eight hours, since we usually make 5 miles an hour on the average, power or sail. We set the course at the windward side of Montserrat, so we had to turn around the northern tip, a few miles of motoring against the wind, but getting a better angle to sail to Guadeloupe. After starting at 6:45 am, we were able to raise the sails in about an hour, but motor sailed for a while waiting for the trades to pick up. We reduced the engine speed gradually when the winds get stronger. After 11:00 am, we started to fly, making 7-8 knots at times. This time Al got a bit apprehensive, and reefed the sails, but we maintained the speed and reached Deshaies, Guadeloupe (pronounced De Aye, go figure) around 2:00 pm.

First thing to do is deal with Customs. In Guadeloupe it is like a story of the Turkish satirist Aziz Nesin, who makes fun of the Turkish bureaucracy. Finding the place took us half an hour, by asking a dozen people who did not and would not listen to two people who only spoke English. So I used my broken French, and we found the Douane office, only to find a sign on the door that the clearance of private yachts were done only in two places; Le Pelican, Des Haies; and Marina Riviere Sens, Basse-Terre. Le Pelican was a small shop selling a variety of clothes and souvenirs, as well as doing photocopies. Since Des Haies is actually French soil, we asked the lady in charge if the identical form we had filled in Marigot, St Martin could be found in the system, but that was unheard-of. She said filling out the form on the computer was very easy (if you spoke French). After some deliberation between us, and using common sense, we filled it. Could we pay the charge of 3.00 Euros in US dollars? No. It was a good thing that we had 5.00 Euros, from our escapades in Marigot. Actually in Marigot, it was stupid to use Euros, since all the establishments accepted US dollars at par! We got some money from the instant teller in Marigot once, and immediately changed it into US, not to be shafted 30% for the things we bought. We wrongly expected the same in Des Haies, Guadeloupe. Al asked if there was a bank or instant teller, and the nice owner directed us with a wave of hand to the Post Office. We found it after walking in circles for a while, but the machine was out of order. Who needs money? We had plenty of food for the night. We were frustrated and very tired from the whole trip, and ready to relax at Ruyam II.

Next morning, we motored to our next stop on the west coast of Guadeloupe, Pigeon Island, where Jack Cousteau’s Marine Park is located. Guide mentions some yellow mooring balls for yachts, and many white ones for day use by divers. When we got there, we saw one ball which was dangerously close to the shore where the waves were hitting the huge rocks on the shore, almost next to it. We turned around and anchored at the bay across the islands. At the shore we saw some bars, and many people having a good time at the beach. We swam to the beach, which was very close, and asked the bartenders if they accepted credit cards. Of course not, what we were thinking. They did not bother with talking to us, obviously we had no money. Oh well, another day at Ruyam II.

Third and last stop was Riviere Sens, Bass-Terre, where we had to clear out the boat, and get out of Guadeloupe. We anchored off of the marina and dinghied in. As the dinghy dock non-existent, somebody told us to tie our boat to the side, where the wall was made of stones, coming into the water with an incline. It is very easy to hit the fiberglass bottom of the dinghy, but I guess people use the stone as a ladder, to climb up to the boardwalk. The man waved us to one of the several buildings at the end of the marina for Customs, and told us to walk there, dinghies were not allowed there. We started our search, and after asking several people who knew nothing about it, one person told us that it was taken care of by a shop on the far end of the marina. We went all the way and back, and asked somebody, who at last told us that he was the guy we were looking for. He was working at the café next door and operating the small clothing store, as well as using his computer in the store to fill the forms. While dealing with it, he told us that the marina was under construction, and the manager in charge of the operation was a Canadian, who was getting the aluminum parts built in Canada and shipped there. As far as I could understand, the whole thing was to be completed in four months. Good luck to them. Since he was a nice guy (and accepted credit cards), we had lunch at his café. We also bought some necessities from a near-by grocery store, and went back to get ready for the next passage.

Is this Dublin or What?

After the tour of the devastation, we were ready for some change of scenery, so Cecile brought us to the market square of Salem, the furthest point that is habitable, which is protected by a series of mountains from the volcano. People had gathered around stations of long tables, with a live band on a stage at a corner, and lots of food and drinks for sale. Most of the people were wearing green (including us), and having a good time. We spent a couple of hours, met with two guys, one American from Nebraska,US, and a retired school teacher from Hamilton, Ontario. Apparently they got very good deals buying their homes after the volcanic activity. The American was living there year round, the Canadian only two months of late winter every year. We took a stroll around the area, and saw that the mansions with nice views of the ocean on the gentle slopes were full of white people, whizzing by in their cars. Some even offered us rides; everybody greeted us while passing, probably thinking that we were to become new neighbors.

The first settlers in Montserrat were Irish immigrants, but most of them returned home after the sugar boom had dissipated. The emancipated slaves are carrying on the tradition and the culture of hard work and love of fun. When we asked, everybody described the island as very safe, with only petty crime, which was immediately punished. They mention the only murder as a result of domestic violence, was committed by an outsider!

It is a paradise on earth, which also offers some excitement at different intervals for the people. I would definitely come back to explore it some more, but not just now.

Force of Nature in Action

On Monday, the 19th, we went ashore to find our taxi driver, Cecile, and saw that two Slovenians and an American were already seated in the taxi. We took off, and Cecile gave some information about the volcano, which devastated the old town called Plymouth. We passed through a check point where a policeman was taking the names of the visitors. Cecile mentioned that the authorities sometimes closed the entrance, at times of rain or increased volcanic activity, but today was our lucky day. When we entered the area covered with ash, it was such a sad sight to see many nice buildings with burned rooftops, still standing but buried halfway in gray ash and stones. Cecile then took us to the remains of a hotel, which took the brunt of the downpour. The reception area was full of muddy ash, but the small adjoining office still had the desks, covered with papers, visa receipts, calculator rolls strewn about in ash, old files and supplies in open drawers, still standing. The outside swimming pool filled to the rim by ash. It was such a dramatic sight, which showed life stopping in one instant by the force of nature. Somebody mentioned the fury of God unleashed on the sinners. I think not, that would imply a cause and effect for a random phenomenon. It is also malicious to label the poor people affected by it as sinners.

Cecile told us that ninety people had died during the catastrophe, since the volcano gave enough warning before the eruption. The only people harmed were the ones who tried to go back to their homes to salvage property.

Cecile further mentioned that Montserrat started to use and sell the ash to be used in construction. Maybe some good will come out of a disaster after all.