Tuesday, May 18, 2004

(Dominica Hike)

I got up early this morning so that I would have plenty of time. I don't know why I bothered to go to bed early, I still only got 4 hours of sleep. I am starting to feel like I might as well just cut out the middleman and go to bed at 3 am, although I am afraid that it will still take me 3 hours to get to sleep and I will only end up with only an hour of sleep. I wanted to eat breakfast, but get back early enough to pack a towel, my camera, and a big zip-lock bag in case it was raining (which it very often is). I re-arranged things several times to try to get everything as light and easy to carry as possible.

I showed up at the landing platform right at 9, as we were docking. The paymaster's office is right there, so that is where I was going to meet him anyways. I went into her office, and he wasn't there yet. She told me that he had gotten REALLY sick the night before, and wasn't going to be able to go. The tour guide also said that it had been raining for two days straight, so the trail was somewhat flooded and it probably wouldn't be a good idea to go.

So, it was time to back up and try another tack. I went to see if there were any shore tours that I could take to see a bit more of Dominica. They had one that was to go to Trafalgar Falls, which I didn't get to see last time. It also went to the sulfur springs and the gardens, which I HAD seen already, but at least it would be enclosed this time. I wouldn't normally care except that it was still raining lightly. It was really warm, so it wasn't too bad.

There were enough people that they had to take a second vehicle, which was a van (the other was a small bus). There were two other employees on it, Katalyn I knew already (she had been my waitress every day for my first month on the ship). Her boyfriend works a completely opposite shift, so they never get to go on excursions together. She works in room service now, and the other girl works with her there (although, by coincidence she had worked in the officer's mess hall also until the week that I got here). I still didn't get a picture of the crushed school bus, it is right at the entrance to the gardens and a ways from where we parked. I did get a picture of a really thick crop of bamboo, which they keep clear in the center and an entry to get in. If you go inside, it is just a wall of bamboo around you.

We went back up to the sulfur spring that I had been to before, but this time they also took us around to a lower one that is much bigger (from which I had seen the steam and really wanted to see last time). The upper one had a lot more water in it this time, and the water was much hotter as more steam was coming out. The lower one was in a place that we couldn't easily get to it, but it puts out an amazing amount of steam. The creek that runs along it was really pretty also, but I couldn't get a picture without anyone in it. Unfortunately there weren't any coconut turnovers on this tour. :(

We left the springs (and the somewhat unpleasant sulfur smell) and headed up to Trafalgar Falls. I have to tell you, the whole island here is just incredibly beautiful. The only part that isn't, unfortunately, is the part that you are looking at right from the ship. You can see a bit of  it on the top right of this picture from my first entry about Dominica, it looks like a strip mine. The actual town is pretty run-down, but the vast majority of the island is pretty sparsely populated.

Trafalgar Falls is actually two waterfalls. They call the bigger one the male waterfall and the smaller one the female. On this trip they don't let you hike up to the falls, both from lack of time and a fear of lawsuits. :( All of my pictures had to come from an observation platform. There is a picture of me. I stood a bit to the side, but it was so crowded on the platform that the person taking the picture had to get it more head-on than I thought, so I am blocking part of it.

Our final stop was just below the falls, where they had promised us one free drink. I figured that it would be another glass of the sweet rum punch like the other tour, and I didn't even bring my camera into the little building that we headed to. After stepping inside, I ran back out for it, though. It was much bigger than it looked from the outside, and was cut into a notch in the mountain and nestled right into the trees. It was a full bar (I got a glass of brandy) and a small restaurant, with a small hotel just down from it. I couldn't believe how beautiful it was. The side facing away from the parking lot had wrought iron that they fold open when the restaurant is open, leaving just a half wall. There aren't any windows or screens, you are just looking right out on the mountains. I got someone to take a picture of me, and they got another one when Katalyn joined me on the ledge. I know, I look a bit rough in all of these pictures from today, but all of our time outside was spent in the rain. It was really nice, though, as the rain was warm, not hard, and there wasn't any wind. In fact, it felt good to get out of the overhang at the falls and back into the rain. I just had to keep the camera in a zip-lock bag most of the day.

I got back to the ship at 2, so I decided to go sit on deck and read. The past few days it has been really windy, but today the temperature was really mild and there was no wind. It was raining, but perfectly straight down. Each deck sticks out 8 feet or so over the one below, so there is a cover just perfect for sitting in a reclining outdoor chair. I read almost 'till dinner time, it was really nice to sit and listen to the rain on the deck I haven't done that in a long time (or even lived in a place where I could, for that matter). I am now up to the fifth and final book in the Piers Anthony Cluster series, called Viscous Circle (yes, it did turn out that I had all of them).

I have liked the books, but not quite as much as most of the other Piers Anthony books that I have read. Each one takes place a hundred years or so after the last, kind of like the Star Wars movies. The first three have very similar story lines, and remind me a bit of the Anne McAffrey dragon books in this way. Then the fourth has a completely different story line, and seems to be barely connected to the other three. I have just started the last, so we will see how it ends. I am kind of afraid to start his Xanth series, as there are an insane number of books in it, and I think that they are still coming out. I'm not sure that it is meant to be a complete story, I have a feeling that it is just an ongoing theme. I have a couple of his stand-alone books still here to read, and I may see if there are any other books of his that I haven't read other than Xanth.

I had planned to take a cave tour in Barbados at 9:45 tomorrow. However, when I checked my e-mail tonight after dinner I found that we are going to have another stupid drill tomorrow. They always start after the guests eat breakfast (around 10), so the whole morning will be shot. Of course, all of the tours for after noon have pretty much been booked. There is a catamaran sunset sail that I have been wanting to take, I may just break down and pay to do that. If not, I will either rent a scooter and drive around or just hang out at the beach for the day.