Thursday, March 15, 2007

Wednesday 14th March


15 34.917 N
61 27.821 W

08.00hrs arrived and we were collected by our tour guide from yesterday, Andrew. It was a little calmer on the water first thing in the morning and we had no problem climbing into his wooden boat for the short trip into the dock. Dale and Lorie were already in the boat and we were very glad to hear that they had managed to retrieve their dinghy stern anchor using a boat hook. When we reached the dock we transferred to a 12 seat bus (just the four of us – the tour was only for us) and changed tour guides, this time it was Geoffrey – the man we originally employed. The changes didn’t end there though, he drove us out to the end of town where we had a change of driver – Geoffrey was unable to do the tour so he handed us off to another guide named Michael who preferred to be called Buddha (we never quite worked out why as he wasn’t fat and he wasn’t a Buddhist!) Anyway our new tour guide was very pleasant, he was a trained botanist and herbalist, he was also a Rastafarian with dreadlocks longer than my hair. The tour began in Portsmouth took us East wards around the coast line to Calabishie then south to Marigot, into the Carib territory, then down to the Emerald pool, the Layou river and finally back to Portsmouth via the West coast road. As we went along Buddha gave a running commentary on all the sights and flora that we encountered. He made frequent stops, jumping out of the bus and picking samples of herbs and spices to hand to us. The island certainly lives up to the title of “Spice Island” , we found lemongrass, bay leaves, spearmint, basil, cinnamon bark, nutmeg trees, almond plants, and probably half a dozen more that I’ve forgotten. It struck us that none of the spices were grown in a commercial scheme – they were all just wild along the side of the road – it’s an opportunity waiting to be grabbed! The main commercial crop was bananas and even this seemed to be a bit hap hazard. We stopped for several photo opportunities along the way, great views of the coastline and the various bays along the way. We stopped at the Carib Indian territory and did a “tour within a tour” which showed us the typical living arrangements and lifestyles of the Caribs. It was all very interesting, we sampled the cassava bread they were making and watched the women weaving the traditional basket wares which were for sale in their craft shop on site. Then it was time for lunch which we had at a place in the hills that we would never have found by ourselves, the food was all local produce and quite tasty. After lunch we continued our tour and headed to the Emerald pool, a natural fresh water pool deep within the rainforest. It was a 15 minute climb down a million steps to the pool which is fed from the rain runoff forming a waterfall into the pool at the base. It was cool and refreshing to be down at that level of the rainforest and of the four of us, only Dale was brave enough to take a dip in the pool (we think he did it to preserve the shower water on his boat!) I can’t say I was too keen on the million steps back to the top again but I made it. After the Emerald pool it was back in the bus and a continuation of the drive around the coast until we finally got back to Portsmouth. The whole day was quite fascinating and we thoroughly enjoyed it I think that having a botanist / herbalist doing the commentary for the tour was a stroke of luck for us, we learnt all sorts of things about plants that we didn’t know before the trip. We ended our day with purchases of some basket work, dinner at Big Papa’s restaurant and collecting our laundry. The joy of having clean clothes and bedding just about made the day!



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