By Gerry Barker
ABOARD AZAMARA QUEST, DAY SIX – We awakened this morning dockside at Roseau on the island of Dominica, “the nature island of the Caribbean.” Sandwiched between Guadeloupe and Martinique, this former British colony, independent since 1978, is almost 300 square miles in size, much of it dense rainforest.
We are here just for the day, so we opted for a three-hour tour to take a look at the place where just over 70,000 people call home.
Our first point of interest is the Botanical Garden, featuring numerous species of trees and an aviary housing four rare Jaco parrots, an endangered species whose numbers have dwindled to 1,500. Large green parrots with a red neck, they took the occasion to erupt in what appeared to be a domestic squabble. But it passed quickly. Since they mate for life, best to kiss and make up.
The most dramatic part of the garden would be the school bus crushed by an African baobab tree. Thankfully, no one was in the bus at the time. Our guide explained it was donated but never used due to the winds from Hurricane David. So it sits here as a reminder of that storm’s fury.
Our bus quickly climbed the steep roads into the interior, where we got views of the volcanic mountains that dot the islands, including the tallest, Morne Trois Pitons, at over 4,500 feet, as well as a diverse array of vegetation and fruit trees. We learned there are plants with medicinal uses for just about any ailment you can name.
A highlight was a stop at one of the many waterfalls found on the island, Hibiscus Falls. Unlike some of the other falls, you can see it by walking only a few feet from the tour bus. But for those who don’t mind the exercise, you can negotiate 57 steps and see it up close and personal. Since we are both waterfall junkies of a sort, we enjoyed spending time in the coolness of the rainforest by the falls’ clear pool.
While you there, don’t pass up the chance to sample the grapefruit juice prepared by Linda. We are not particularly fans of grapefruit juice, but this was easily the best we’ve ever had.
If you are into nature, this is just the ticket. There are a number of other, more spectacular waterfalls to be seen, as well as hiking to exotic places like “Boiling Lake.” The effects of the island’s volcanic origins are in evidence throughout. I have to give kudos to our guide, “Angel,” who gave us an excellent and knowledgeable overview of the island she calls home.
Back on board, the staff is preparing a special French Dinner Buffet this evening (yesterday it was a British Buffet, and the night before, Spanish). We’ll check that out for you. There was a decent turnout for last night’s movie under the stars, which was “Papillon.” We opted to just enjoy the stars themselves as the night sky dazzled with a brilliance we city folk have never experienced.
At 6 p.m. we leave this beautiful place and set a course for Charlestown, Nevis, as our tour of the West Indies is already half over. It’s going by much too fast!
March 7, 2013