Sunday, March 23rd
Last night we sailed south of Saba Bank and on through the Caribbean. We passed the Leeward Islands of Montserrat and Guadeloupe before docking in Roseau.
The lore and lure of pirates is alive in Dominica; in fact, two of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies were filmed here.
Dominica is a volcanic island and it is the effects of those volcanoes we’re hoping to experience today as we hire a taxi driver, Julia, to take us to Champagne Reef. Jeff had emailed the department of tourism in Dominica before we left home asking the best way to get to the reef and they said to hire a taxi driver to take you, to stay until you were finished and to take you back, so that’s what we did.
When we get to Champagne Reef, it isn’t as remote as we had feared – there is even a little cafe/bar, restrooms and changing rooms.
We walk a LONG wooden boardwalk that was very picturesque over a rocky area TO a rocky area. In this rocky area there is a long rubber mat over some rocks and into the water; it looks like a giant slip n’ slide!
There’s a group of people snorkeling and, from the blue striped towels we see on the rocks, we realize it is one of the Princess excursion tours – look like we’re in the right place. Then we wonder if they’ll take the slip and slide with them when they leave…
As they are getting out, we get in. Thank goodness for that mat as the rocks are very slick.
We put on our fins and flip face down. HELLO…there are fish right here, lots of fish. It takes us only a moment to find the reason we picked this reef – the bubbles. Champagne Reef has this name because there are volcanic vents here that continually puff steam into the sea and the bubbles make you feel like you are swimming in warm champagne.
This is SO cool! The bubbles are lovely…in one area there is one stream, in another area, several. There are vents all over. Very cool. We take a lot of pictures including a video where Jeff is holding the camera above a stream of bubbles as they rise to the camera.
The area is teeming with fish. Jeff said this is where fish tour guides take fish tourists so they can see air. hahahaha!
A catamaran arrives as does another group on a Princess tour (the rubber mat appears to be a permanent fixture), we leave the bubbles to them and swim out quite a bit further, past the catamaran. Here is the reef and past the reef is the drop off. I read that within 1/2 mile of shore there are vertical drops of 800 to more than 1,500 feet. I believe it! It is straight down, and the visibility is incredible.
We feel that we are swimming in an aquarium
and the coral is outstanding.
In closer to the bubbles there is not a lot of coral; I wonder if it is because of the bubbles and the warmer water? What an amazing experience.
The second Princess tour is leaving. We snorkel a bit more then get out and sit on some rocks to dry out a little, eat our apples and enjoy the ocean view. After a bit we pack up, traverse the boardwalk and meet Julia back at the cafe. Time to head back.
Before we get out of her cab, Julia insists on giving us her email address and phone number. “I have Magic Jack” she tells us, “so it is a U.S. Phone number.”
Isn’t technology wonderful?! I guess she liked us.
We have plenty of time left in the day, so we drop our gear in the cabin, wash the salt water off our face and hands and decide to walk to the Botanical Gardens. It is a bit of a walk to this 40 acre park. We learn that Dominica’s Botanical Gardens were founded in 1891 as an annex of London’s Kew Gardens.
We had a great time exploring the Bamboo House, and
the “David the Goliath” tree, part of which was blown down in 2004 onto an (empty) tour bus squashing it flat.
We come upon a sign for “Jack’s Walk Trail” – it says 20 minutes so we set off. Well, it started out with 39 steep steps (yes, Jeff is a numbers person).
The sign should have said “20 minutes straight up – hope you have enough water”. It was a fun ‘walk’…with several switchbacks. Did I mention that it is HOT today?? This is an isolated, woodsy area and my mind wanders to modern day pirates… Just then I jump as Jeff says “Hi” to two camouflage clad soldiers hiding in the bushes directly above us. Yikes! Well, I guess we are protected from those pirates!
Finally we reach the end of the trail, the top of the mountain. Yes, it is 20 minutes one way and not, as we thought, a loop. We’ll have to traverse down what we just climbed up. But first we get photos of the wonderful view of Roseau and the Caribbean. There is also a ginormous Christ on the cross here, along with a cannon.
I realize the cross here is the tiny one I could see from town. Now I really am tired!
We walk back down. The trip down takes us less than 10 minutes. Walk back through the gardens, stopping to see the screeching parrots in the aviary and back through town to the ship.
Somewhere along the way today I’ve lost my baseball cap. Happily it was nothing special and now I have an excuse to buy a new one! I’m definitely going to buy a Dominica cap to honor this great day.
After all of our exercise we enjoy a local beer at a seaside cafe.
Tonight we had dinner with a couple from Ohio. Their favorite cruise was up the Amazon river which sounded very exciting. The other table mates were a family with two teenage girls from Minnesota. They missed the ship in Fort Lauderdale because of engine trouble with their plane. Delta took care of their airfare to St.Thomas but they missed the first couple days of the cruise and were out the costs of the hotel, food, etc while waiting for the ship to make port. They had a great story and adventure and made the best of a bad situation. Now that they are on board, and had gone river tubing in Dominica, they were having a great time.
After dinner, even though it was a very full day, we went up to “Movies Under the Stars” to watch ‘Jobs’ which is the story of Steve Jobs from his college days and the founding of Apple Computers through his ouster from the company and later rehiring. We both liked the movie and think they should do a part 2 covering from after his re-hire to his death – the IPhone, IPad , etc.