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Monday, February 28, 2011

BLENDING OLD AND NEW ............



Travelling through DOMINICA is like being in a chocolate swirl of old and new ........... Magnificent individual agricultural endeavours mixed in with aspiring community developments and in the middle of all of that is some major Chinese investments in road construction ........ Bananas, pineapples and even cocoa can be found in most places ............



So take a look at this 'OLD and NEW' thing ............... They have built a channel about one kilometer upstream to run water to a water wheel, which in turn powers a series of cogs and gear-wheels to turn the cane-crushing rollers, which in turn squeeze the juice out of the sugar-cane while at the same time pumping the juice to another building to make rum............ The whole operation with its tons of machinery is all powered by running WATER ........



We really wanted to see the rum-making part of the deal, but no-go ......... The security man on Sunday then said to us ........... "Let me turn on the water flow to show you" ...... Well, who is going to say no to that ....... (Check out the video below) Travelling further round the island we found the remains of yet another water-wheel driven crushing plant no longer in operation ...........



That big wheel is the water-wheel with many buckets missing and the rest is gearing to drive the rollers ............ Two days of driving and walking have shown us a cross-section of life in DOMINICA ....... Two nights on board have shown us the 'power of speakers' as the blasting music from shore normally only dies about 5.30 AM ........ Just as the sun rises and 4000 roosters take over ...... Had a great time with Serge and Martine from the French catamaran "FROMISLANDTOISLAND" who shared the car journey with us ......... Their actual boat name is in French ....... And we sure hear some funny boat names like " NEVER AGAIN III" ........



The contrasts in DOMINICA are enormous ............. Just double-click on each of the photos below ............



That's Kevin, the local shoe repair man, doing a quick-fix on my torn sandal with hammer, punch, home-made needle and 50lb fishing line ...... And can you believe the colour of this flower ............ We needed sunglasses just to look at it ............



So who knew that you could sail 18 miles from GUADELOUPE (Fr) to DOMINICA and find an island so full and rich in life and colour ........... Our Florida sailing buddy John KING grew up here, as did our former neighbour Allan Walker ........... So that's at least two people we know who have wonderful memories of an island life ......... Wonderful memories that we ourselves now also carry away with us ........ As we sail across another passage to the French island of MARTINIQUE ......... Now just double-click on the 'cannon' photo and give it a caption like " The War no-one remembers" ... .....

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SWALLOWED BY THE RAINFOREST ........



You know that if you walk about a hundred metres off the trail, turn yourself three or four times and if you didn't know up from down, you would never come out of it .......... The rainforest is so dense and so over-powering as to leave you in awe ....... Of course, you could always follow a stream down and you would hit the circular island road somewhere, but it is still awesome to see the incredible growth within ............. Takes these flowers for instance ....... Never seen anything like it ........... Or the 'calabash tree' with fruit on (below) ........ Or the size of the tree trunks and the vines that entangle and strangle it ........ That's the "Queen" doing an imitation tree strangle ..........



And what adds to this surreal world of vibrant greens is that the volcanic soils are nowhere near as dead as you might think ......... In various places we found the sulphur springs and super-heated steam emerging from the ground in pools of boiling mineral-rich water ............. One of the oldest woman in DOMINICA lived to be 128 years old, so there just may be some truth in the magic of 'hot sulphur spas' .........



Deep and high up in the mountains of DOMINICA is where the water supply for the capital ROSEAU is collected ............. Remarkably simple ....... Let the water that comes out of a gorge run straight into a large pipe ............. What is not simple is that the pipe is made of wood ............ Like a wooden barrel, but this time each of the planks are joined with metal brackets at the butt end to the next one and the whole lot is held together with steel compression rings .... And in a sharp bend, where the pipe has to cross the river it goes into a steel pipe ........ Check out the steel to plank joint ............ Do a double-click on any of the photos to enlarge them ...... Now this is rainforest engineering ...



And right here, in the pool below, is where ROSEAU's water supply emerges from the TI TOU GORGE ..... A magnificent gorge cut deep into the rocks ............... Talk about going ' GREEN '..............



We followed the forest trail that goes past the gorge and after more than two hours of walking we turned around ............ Totally saturated and satiated by the emotional feel and the bird sounds of this beautiful rainforest ....... There is no escaping that being swallowed up by the power of this forest leaves you feeling small and vulnerable, but incredibly elated ........... The photos do not do it justice .... ... Perhaps the video at the end may convey the 'magic" .....

We emerged from the forest with its numerous species of orchids, tree-ferns and bromiliads into bright sunlight ........... And continued with our wanderings around the island ...... But you just have to stop when you see a thicket of these maginficent heliconia-type flowers ...... And in one we found these metallic-blue humming birds, hard at work gathering nectar .............. Tragically the video we took turned out blurred ...... Now, you don't know the meaning of 'disappointment' until you have held a hummingbird in the frame for more than forty seconds ............ Being stood up on a first date doesn't even come close ........ These photos will just have to do ......... But Oh, what a sight to behold ...........What a sight to remember ....



And what better way to finish the day, than to sit and watch a game of " CRICKET " ........ Fully-grown men in blue and gold, spread out over a vast field surrounded by sugar-cane, chasing a hard white ball that someone has hit with a 'plank' ........ And after an hour or so, they all walk off the field to have "Tea"......... "Splendid, I hear, Splendid!" ........ The "Queen of Florida" thinks that for sheer excitement, it is on a par with watching grass grow ....... Well, what does one say to that, other than "Bring on the mower!" ....... It's a cultural thang .... O.K...... This wall-mural should bring us all back to Earth ....... You don't just hand over a good bottle of rum, not even to your loving wife ....... Who knows what she might do to it ........

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