Monday, April 22, 2013

Dominica Deluge

Greetings All,
We are on the tiny island of Dominica in the eastern Caribbean.  We so much enjoyed whale watching in New Zealand that when we arrived home I did an Internet search on other places in the world you can see Sperm Whales.  Dominica popped up.  It's surprising how many similarities Dominica has to New Zealand.  Both have a deep water canyon off shore which attracts whales and dolphins, both have boiling lakes (New Zealand has the largest and Dominica has the second largest in the world) and both countries have tree ferns.

So here we are in Dominica for a week. We arrived Thurs. night and up until today it has been raining cats and dogs.   Not the brief showers you commonly get in the tropics but torrential downpours that wash out roads and hiking trails and swell rivers to the point of flooding.... and this is the dry season!  We have managed to do some short tours around the lodge.  Friday we went into the tiny town of Delices to visit a local home and family business.  Joseph along with his wife and six children grow and process a plant that is locally known as Torloma.  

Joseph's wife holding a Torloma Plant
The tubers are harvested, washed and ground into a pulp.  The pulp is suspended in water and the starch settles to the bottom of a large blue barrel.   It is dried then ground into a flour to make cereal or thickener for gravy.

Joseph's daughter next to the finished product

It's amazing how people living in the tropics all around the world use a similar process for extracting starch from plants such as cassava, manioc, false banana and palm.  The end result doesn't have much nutritional value but has lots of calories and fills you up.

Saturday we visited the capital city of Roseau to take in the market and to visit Trafalgar Falls.  With all the recent rain, these were the only falls that we could safely walk to.  Water thundered over the falls dropping 200 feet onto the rocks below.

Trafalgar Falls

Yesterday we were able to go birding in Morne Diablotin National Park with Bertrand Jno Baptiste aka Dr. Birdy.  He is Dominica's foremost ornithologist and has written a guide on the birds of Dominica. We were in search of Dominica's  two endemic parrots.  After much searching we spotted a Sisserou or Imperial Parrot from a viewpoint.  There are only 300 of these birds left in the wild.  She was across the valley, about 400 meters away, feeding on the fruits of a tree.  She was difficult to photograph as she bobbed up and down on the branch, a real test for Marc's new camera and zoom lens.

Sisserou or Imperial Parrot

The second endemic parrot, a Jaco or Red-necked Parrot, was much closer.  They are more common than the Sisserou with about 3500 Red-necked Parrots in the wild.  A small flock were feeding on spiky fruit in a tree next to the road.

 Spiky fruit that the Red-necked Parrots were Feeding On

Jaco or Red-necked Parrot

We saw a host of other birds (humming birds, thrushes, warblers, hawks and doves) and two Agouti, a large rodent introduced from Central America.


Today we were actually able to do a hike from the lodge without getting wet.  We got our first view of the surrounding rugged mountains.

We encountered some of the local critters along our route.  The first was a freshwater crab with just one claw.  The second is a little snake that we met on the path to our cabin.

We're hoping that the weather and water clarity will continue to improve and that we'll be able to go snorkeling at Champagne Beach tomorrow.  There is an underwater volcanic vent here and you can swim through the bubbles without getting boiled I hope.  There are also seahorses, octopus and turtles.  In the afternoon we hope to go whale watching.  If all else fails we can hang out in my lounge drinking local rum and beer!

We hope all is well back home.
Peggy and Marc

1 comment:

Tom F said...

Life is good when you have your own bar...