Saturday, June 18, 2011

Day Seven -- Dominica

Dateline Dominica---day seven

Today is full of big and little pleasures. Big pleasure is sitting as I am now, on my balcony of stateroom 10*** and watching Roseau, Dominica approach, close enough now to hear roosters. Little pleasure is setting my new watch seconds to the correct gps time. Of course, it as an HOUR off, but that is my usual custom when traveling outside my own time zone. Early morning temp in the seventies, low humidity and I have a good long tour for the day.

Made barefoot trips to get coffee twice and oj once. Filled water bottle and moved stuff from the old ripped green backpack into the blue Norwegian Cruise Lines one that I got last night at the Shore Excursion desk where nobody would admit to putting the ‘ship and ‘taxi’ labels on the photo by the desk. Still smile each time I think of it. Forewent breakfast and returned to pack up everything. Was by the pool when they called all clear to go ashore, and it was an hour before I think my tour is to begin. I would be a tad upset if I missed it, but I believe I still have a good half hour to go before I need be on the pier. Wx, as stated, is sunny and pleasant.

I was on the dock maybe fifteen minutes before the 0845 assembly time, stated to be on the pier by the gangplank, but twas not, twas on the shore by the pier. There was a Welcome sign and a sweet Canadian girl from the ships company took my obligatory picture there. Very tall, glassed man was the tour guide, and he told me to go wait somewhere, and then promptly forgot me, so I was the last one on the bus. Small bus, seated perhaps 12, half of whom were polish and two were black Americans.

Road was narrow, potholed and soaking wet as we drove up several thousand feet above the boat to the rain forest, which really was one. I’ve seen them in St Croix, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, and I think in Bali and Malaysia as well, but this one well and truly was a soaker. After quite a long ride we came to a cable car which held ten people and a tour guide, with a plastic roof and open sides and seats. We rode along thru the branches of the ferns, trees, bamboo and flowers in a rain that varied from gentle to torrential and several of the tourists had got themselves six dollar souvenir slickers and I had my Patagonia jacket, but several travelers were noisily soaked, as apparently they did not know why it was called a RAIN forest.

At the top everyone opted to go for a walk thru the rain forest and across another very high suspension bridge similar to the five in Costa Rica. Was struck as much as anything by the ABSENCE of bird and animal life. We saw only a butterfly the entire hour and a half that we were on the tram…not a single other living non plant thing. No jungle sounds, nothing. One humming bird.

Still, in my experience it was the perfect way [for me anyhow]to see the rain forest – up close and personal but zero effort and zero risk…no hacking thru with machetes. Very pleased. Passed up the free rum punch and we were off to the gorge which was, not surprisingly, running very high due to the extraordinary amount of recent rains, so the split was pretty much between the Americans and the Europeans, with the latter taking the plunge, and me and the others taking a pass. I went in up to my knees, but was not altogether pleased with the arrangements for security for passport and wallet and stuff left behind, and was content to return to the bus as soon as it was permitted.

Next stop was a botanical garden with two parrots in cages which I never did see nor hear. I was so impressed I left my camera in the van for the walk, but would have taken a picture of the cannon ball tree which I had never seen before. And last stop was an overlook where there were rows of vendors and a pretty view toward the south end of the island the the Norwegian Dawn lying at pierside and this time we are the ONLY ship in the harbor, a first for this trip and unlikely to be the case tomorrow in St Thomas. I took the picture and tried to get a pic of the sign that said unauthorized vendors are not allowed, but don’t know yet how it came out, because tonight I am doing text before pictures, hoping for better continuity.

Back at the ship, I headed for the snack bar by the pursers desk and sure enough, Ad*** was there and smiled at me, but is herself working till after four and we sail at five, so no shot at going ashore with her here. A** was at the reservations desk and gave me a very wan smile, and she is still not sleeping well due to her cough and God could she use a few days rest which they ain’t gonna give her soon.

So I went back out to shore with Dr H*** and his wife who came by the reservations desk while I was there with A***, and when she asked them their stateroom I gave it for them. We walked to the first vendor stand where I said I was only going for a postcard and the internet, so we split up and I struck off on my own. I was approached several times for money by at least two or three different people and said I had only the return to Dominica coin (pronounced DomEenEeKa). The west coast of the island is washed by the Caribbean sea and the east coast by the Atlantic ocean.

Usually I can find these cafes by asking two or at most three people, but this time, I never found it, and further, as I got four or five blocks away from the ship I hit the edge of my comfort zone, and while it was a bright sunny day, and the vendors and salespeople were polite, there were a crowd of loiterers in their big hats and sullen glares that made me, while not afraid, or even uncomfortable – they made me NOT comfortable. Slight distinction there, perhaps, but I returned to the ship without regrets.

Here, I settled onto my balcony with three cookies and some ice water to daydream. C** is NOT going with me tomorrow, having off only an hour and a half while we were in port. A** wants to go and A** is still insisting that she doesn’t even know what her schedule for tomorrow is going to be. Doc H* is going to Coral World (which is HELL for a Chinese to say, trust me on that), and so my flight tomorrow may be with two lovely young ladies or alone.

However, for the moment I remain shirtless, shoe and sockless in my bathing suit with my binocs around my neck people watching in Roseau which is a football field away from my bed, and listening to guitar music on ch 14 which also has our distance travelled since leaving NYC in nautical miles which is 2158.1. And it was shirtless that the Philippina maid found me with the candy from R***.

A little later I went thru the lobby and was surprised to see A*** already on duty, and as near as I can tell, unable to leave till 2200, having had twenty minutes to get out of a waitress uniform and out to her chair in the lobby. I told her I’d be back with the pix from today if she wanted, and she said fine.

Went to internet cafĂ© and posted on pprune, a tiny bit on my blog ,glanced at asf, drudge, ap breaking news and newsday, but didn’t check my email this time. I have about an hour and a half internet time left. Back I went to Ad** to show her the thirty or so pix from today and to learn that her father is going to slaughter a pig for Xmas. Although the ship has pretty decorations, the temps in the eighties and palm trees have sort of pushed Xmas into the background, and it is hard to believe it is three weeks away. Will hunker down and remember the warm beaches and tropical rain forests when the kids are having their Mom up to see them upstate..

Supper in the hamburger place by reception. I chatted with Ad*** just a few minutes more and left around 2130, making sure to call reception and tell them to let her know when it was ten, because her battery had died. I checked the camera shop and they had only aaa duracells and I need aa for D***’s camera if they should go belly up tomorrow. The music behind the reservations desk was again the Philippinos, who played quando quando, try to remember, and other nostalgia early sixties stuff.

Back in the room, filled water bottle, ate cookies, and called for room service for coffee in the morning and also a 7AM wakeup call (automatic). My flashing message this time was the room steward explaining that I had left the ‘do not disturb’ sign on and he couldn’t make up the room, which except for the towel animals is fine by me…they turn off the tv and I have a devil of a time getting it back on, and steal my bedspread which I can’t find. BTW, I pushed the heat up to the MAX and then went off and forgot it, and it was a sauna when I returned.

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