Before we started out, Al had checked the recent updates on Doyle's website about Roesau, Dominica. The only thing we saw was a comment on Pancho, our guy, being erratic in his service. Doyle suggests using some other person for getting help, such as tying to a mooring ball, getting water and cooking gas, or finding a taxi for land trips. When we read the update, I almost wrote to Cobra (Andrew O'Brion) of Portsmouth to ask, who had recommended Pancho to us for the first time; but decided to take our chances. The worst part was, that it was the carnival time in Dominica (as well as many other islands), and finding help or food would be a challenge.
When we neared the part of Rosau waterfront that we knew from before, I got to VHF and called Pancho. Thankfully he answered and told us to approach a blue motorboat, without much other guidance. While we were looking around, the Marine Security guy for the port (Maurice) on a big orange dinghy came close and offered to help. When we said Pancho was waiting for us, he first argued that Pancho did not have a boat, then signalled us to follow (everybody wants to sell their own mooring balls). When we reached the big motorboat on a moor, we saw that Maurice picked Pancho up from the shore, and brought him to a ball close by, waiting for us. When somebody hooks the lines, getting tied is no problem.
Pancho looked a bit tired and unwell. When we asked, he explained that he had been at the hospital for a couple of weeks, because of dengue fever and some other bacteria, which had entered his body through a cut on his feet while he walked in a muddy puddle. He said that he almost did not make it, but was getting better lately. He was his old giddy, lively self, full of jokes and laughter; but his eyes showed the strain he had gone through.
When we mentioned our wish of exploring the land the next day, he promised to help. We were quite tired from the crossing, and hungry (settled aroung 2:30 pm), so we ate and lazed around that afternoon.
The next morning, Monday (March 3rd), first thing was to register Ruyam II and crew to the port authority and customs. Dominica is the best among all the islands around here, people can clear in and out in one stroke, if their stay would not exceed two weeks. Al and Levent took the dinghy and disappeared for a couple of hours, while Guylaine and I chatted leisurely.
After lunch, Pancho asked us what we wanted to do as sight seeing. When I said just the Gorge and Trafalgar falls, he urged us to get ready immediately (around 2:00 pm), since it was a lean day for the taxis (no cruise ships! ). I was a bit sceptical that we could make the rounds for the two places in daylight (sun coming down at 6:00 pm like clockwork), but he assured me that it was plenty of time.
We got our hiking boots and wet-shoes, put on swim suits under our garments and took little else, and got underway. Our driver was a nice islander (pity, can't remember his name), and took us to Gorge first. Since we had been there before, we wasted no time in getting ready and plunging into the pool, from where the swim on the small stream starts towards the roaring waterfall in the dept of the cave/corridor. It is kind of dark inside, with a little bit of light showing through the cracks. Actually, the stream seemed to have cut through the stone, leaving two extremely high walls, covered by vegetation at the top.
As soon as he set foot in the pool, Levent started complaining about the cold water, but we did not listen, and urged him on. Poor Guylaine had to follow, although not very happy abut the cold and the strenous swim against the immense current. Since it is dark, one does not feel the force of the water; and wonder about the reason for making such slow progress, but getting out of breath. Only after reaching the top, where the river drops down through the mountain wall in clear daylight, one realizes the enormity of the force. It is almost impossible to swim to the mouth, as the walls of the cave are wet and smooth, nowhere to cling. Guylaine appeared to have been out of breath getting there, and complained about not being able to take a rest, so we turned back without spending much time at the mouth. I so much love this experience that, their not sharing my enjoyment dampened my spirit a bit; but hey, everybody to their tastes. I guess we are more used to swimming in cold waters (Canadian lakes are cold!), Guylaine being a Martiniquian, Levent not having swam in Black sea in Turkey, were not as fit. Although they half-heartedly admitted that it was a unique experience, Levent especially, declared that if he had time to think, he would not have plunged ahead.
We assured them that next stop was going to warm their bones. Trafalgar has two water falls in the distance, one steaming hot full of sulphur, the other ice cold. As it happens, one gets to the hot stream first, which forms several pools on its rapid descent among big boulders. When one sees the orange tinged (because of the sulphur) stream, it is a matter of minutes to reach the first pool. We left our backpacks on the convenient ledge beside the pool, we sat in the shallow hot pool. Oh man! After freezing our butts and keeping our wet swim suits on for almost an hour, it was a treat. After spending half an hour wallowing in the hot (I mean steaming hot) water, and having a back massage under the miniscule waterfall, we saw other people started coming. The pool is not big enough to hold unrelated people, so we graciously gave way to the new group. It was quite tiring to stay in anyway, so we left at the right time. The others went to the cold pool, reached by hopping around large boulders going down, but I preferred staying with our bundles. When they came back, we saw that more people started streaming in. It was obvious that we had stolen the most convenient time slot to get there. It was a hit with our guests, so all was not lost after all. I am sure there are other places in Roseau equally nice, but these are my favorite. If we go again, we might try to explore the other places, but would not skip on the two!
When we returned, we felt quite beaten, and we had no bread left. Unfortunately, all the bakeries were working half time that day, and our driver could not find any when we started the trip. We were back before 5:00 pm, so we suggested going to the nice hotel situated in Fort Young, not far from the jetty in front of the Marine Association. We took to the dinghy, and got to the jetty. Swells in Roseau are legendary, that jetty is high, long, narrow and scary, but handy. Al found an opening among the other dinghies, and alighted us. Guylaine and I walked to safety of the land, and looked back, to watch Levent and Al struggling with tying the dinghy, nose high up, to avoid swinging under.
We walked to Fort Young Hotel lobby, but the timing was off, the lobby and atrium bar were deserted, dinner not starting for a while. So we went out, and walked down the road to the side entrance to the hotel, to get to the Panderossa bar, situated on the second floor, overlooking the bay. The sun was warm when eye level, but the terrase where we sat was inviting. We checked the menu, and saw that prices were highly reasonable, for the limited (but ample) fare. We ate and drank, watched the sunset, and had a jolly good time.
Going back in the dark was a problem. First the narrow jetty, which looks like a high bridge. When we got to the end, we realized that there was a lower dock at the side, for the dinghies. Al descended into the dinghy, and brought it around to the lower area for us to embark. That was easy, although we had to compete with some incoming people, who did not want to part with their dinghy, and crowded the tiny platform.
We started our return trip in the dark. We had left the mooring light, as well as the light in the cock-pit on, but could not see any of them among the many boats moored around. We passed the dim lights on the shore, and kept going. Due to the carnival, the houses lining the shore were mostly dark, and Al was driving quite far from the shore, cutting across the bay. We must have passed Ruyam II, obscure among the many boats, and approached another cluster of lights after a dark patch at the shore. I was convinced that she was back somewhere close to the string of houses, and urged Al to get near the shore, and check out the only sign of life on shore at the brightly lit building. When we came close we realized that the building was Ancorage Hotel, a little south of our place, we being right across Drop Anchor (restaurant/bar). It was a relief (as always) to reach our beloved Ruyam II.