We had a pretty quick and painless day sail from Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe to Dominica. Before we were even within a mile of the harbor, we were greeted by our designated tour guide/vendor/ambassador for Portsmouth, Titus, on his motorboat. Tour guides in Dominica have to be certified, and a group of them came together to provide services to yachts, taking turns claiming each one as it sails into the harbor. Since they provide security by patrolling the anchorage, we wanted to support them as much as we could with our given budget. Well actually, we kind of gave the budget the finger.

We went to the weekly barbecue and met a bunch of new cruisers then agreed to take a guided island tour to see a few waterfalls and the Carib territory (similar to our Native American reservations) one day and tour the Indian River the next. Our tour was scheduled a couple of days out in order to draw in more people and lower the price, so we had some time to hike around on our own which is usually our style. We visited the old fort with a new group of cruisers we met who are headed to Grenada, and then tried one of the hikes from our guidebook. We were sure we were lost when we found ourselves scrambling up the side of a very steep mountain and then literally sliding back down only to repeat the process two more times. But once we reached the end we realized that we were indeed on the right trail the whole time. I guess “challenging” really means challenging in this guidebook, not just “challenging if you’re really old and out of shape” which is what I generally assume. Wait a minute, maybe there is another alternative I should be considering here.

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Front yard flower garden in Portsmouth.
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On one of our last days in Portsmouth we stumbled upon this very interesting architecture.
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If you go hiking in the rainforest you should probably expect to get rained on.
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The checkout clerk in the grocery store offered to open my beer for me on the way out. Why not?
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This map was not at the right scale for our mountaineering adventure.
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When tour day came we crammed ourselves into a van with eleven other souls and were driven south. In summary, we didn’t see as much as we thought we would, especially after the radiator blew and we walked the rest of the way to Titou Gorge. But we still had a fun day and saw more than we would have on our own. We toured a rum factory, took a dip in the pool beneath Trafalgar Falls, and swam in the rain through the very cold and thrilling slot canyon, Titou Gorge, which for me was the highlight of all of our time in Dominica. I expanded my love of goats to include eating them for lunch.

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Trafalgar Falls
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After a good old college try, the 4th breakdown was the clincher and Dr. Love was done for the day.
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And then we walked.
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But hey, at least we weren’t in this bus.
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Titou Gorge

Late the next afternoon we took the trip up the Indian River with our guide, James Bond, who was hilarious and passionate about conservation of the river. At the end of the river Titus took us to a fruit farm where we sampled all kinds of tropical fruits and herbs directly from the source. Of course there was a bar too so we had some delicious Dynamite rum drinks. As much as we like to do things the cheap – and often more difficult way – we were happy we went for the guided tour.

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The next day we decided we would find our own way to one of the falls we were meant to see on the tour. A quick bus ride and pleasant walk through farmland later and we were there. We watched a bunch of children jump off the cliffs into the pool, then waited until just before the group had totally cleared out to try it ourselves. You know, just in case one of us broke something and needed to be carried to a doctor.

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This goat is not sure if his cuteness outweighs his tastiness in my eyes.
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We spent the next few days in the same fashion, taking advantage of the well-marked Waitukubuli Trail that spans the entire island to explore the rainforest. One day Jon even walked to the top of the tallest peak at 4747 feet. Actually, he ran from sea level to about 1900 feet, then pulled himself up one tree root at a time to the plateau just before the highest peak before he had to turn around or risk being up there after sunset. We were about hiked out after that (some of us more than others) and ready to head onward to another island of delicious French cheeses: Martinique!

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Auditioning for Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal music video.
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