First impressions can be misleading. We nearly didn't visit Dominica. There was no 'main' in Main Street in Portsmouth town, just a few locals chillin' in the doorways, and there was certainly nothing to suggest the true richness and vibrancy of the island that we later discovered.
After our initial landing we organised an island tour. As luck would have it the owner of the tour company, Cobra himself was our tour guide for the day - a big warm character with lots of entrepreneurial plans and immense knowledge of the flora, fauna and local landscape. Better still he brought his lovely girlfriend Jamie. Jamie's family is pure Dominican, her uncle designed the national flag and she holds a key role in Dominican government. First stop was impressive waterfalls Syndicate Falls. We hiked through a rich plantation with ferns, grapefruits, sugar cane and coconut trees. One plant mashed up on a rock provided both a shampoo and a setting agent for dreadlocks. Jamie and Hugh demonstrated the shampoo after our waterfall swim or "pounding" (the shampoo definitely worked better on her than on Hugh).
Calabishie (home of the original Carib people) on the coast was wild and dramatic. We pulled up outside a small supermarket and marched through the shop to discover a waterside restaurant with fantastic views. Cobra drank rum with peanut milk and coconut. Interesting. The afternoon included cold sulphur springs, a chocolate plantation and a trip to 'Mars'. Mars was actually an amazing large flat area of red rocks, eroded with gulleys we could scramble over and take in another spectacular coastal view.
Dusk began to set in and we assumed that the last part of the trip, a row up Indian River, would be scrapped from the schedule but no. So in the dark we rowed past white and black crabs, iguanas and Calypso's house in Pirates of the Caribbean (built by Cobra natch) and who knows what else. In the depths of the forest we arrived at the Bush Bar (Cobra's bar natch). More rum cocktails.
Throughout the day Cobra and Jamie had entranced us with their passion for the country, its history and their understanding of what it takes to run a country of 70,000 people and the conversation continued over wine and beers on the back of the boat long after the official tour ended. Dominica touched our souls (and almost Hugh's wallet).
The Meteorite Crew
Debbie, Hugh, Janice and Andy