Tuesday, June 1, 2004

(A New Parking Spot)

We pulled into Dominica today in a different parking spot. I have mentioned that the other spot was too small for us. Apparently, we usually use this one, but had been using the other one while a different ship used this one. To combat the size problem, this pier is about 20 times smaller than the other one. It is just a walking platform that dead-ends in a pier barely wide enough for our two ramps. They have bumpers that come out of the water that the boat presses against, and then two-story monster concrete pilings much further out. This way any boat can pull into this pier. However, it is a pain to tie the boat, as they have to drive a boat back and forth to all of these pilings and have someone climb a ladder to tie up.

The view of the city is much better from here, though. The other pier is way off in the distance in the second picture. Mihai, Julio and I got off the boat, as it is somewhat of a weekly ritual for Mihai to get a coconut for his girlfriend in Dominica. I decided to take a walk, initially just into the market. It is cute, with a cobblestone courtyard ending in . . . I'm not sure what it is. It is cute, even though it is mostly tourist crap. It's a great place to get the local spices and things. I got some local spices and raw chocolate (made from the beans that they grow here) to send home.

From the market I walked along the water. I should have dropped my camera and bag of stuff on the boat before I started, but I didn't know how long I'd walk. The chocolate ended up melting in the heat, so I stopped back by the market to get more on the way back. The street gets pretty narrow outside of the main town, and there are houses between it and the water. It is interesting, the run-down houses are the ones right on the ocean. Every house I passed by was very old, tiny, and dilapidated, and many had collapsed or burned down years before. There were cars on blocks and such. The same land in the U.S. would cost a fortune.

I got to an area where the side of the mountain comes right to the water, so there were no houses. I took this picture from the boat, and here is a second one so you can see about how far I was. Of course, it is mandatory that I take pictures of the ship too. Here it is zoomed in. Right at the spot where you are closest to the water was a large sign, pleading for people to stop killing the frogs (called crapauds). Apparently it is their national dish (nicknamed "mountain chicken"), but they want the people to eat less of them . . .

Along this section I passed by several fishermen. Again, instead of a large fishing boat with nets on each side, these guys go for economy. They tie a net to the shore on a long rope, then use two boats to bring the net out and position it. You can see the floats from the net there, and here are others bringing in a net.

After a long walk back (and buying more chocolate), I put my stuff in the room. I took my camera up to the top deck to take the pictures you see at the beginning of today's entry. There was a full moon, which had risen very early. I got some more mountain pictures, including a couple with the moon above them. I bet it would have been gorgeous had we still been there at night. As we left, there were scores of dolphin off of the bow. It was really cool, they were all cresting the water at the same time in alternating groups, so there would be maybe 40 in the air at a time. Unfortunately I didn't get my camera out quickly enough to catch the big groups, but I did get some. A number of people thought that they were baby dolphins, but of course on the lowest deck we are 6 stories off of the water. Even though a large cloud ended up getting in the way, it ended with a pretty sunset.