Sunday, January 16, 2011

Day Nine: Water, Water, and More Water

Perhaps you can tell that we've been having internet problems.  We post when we can get a few minutes of connection, then wait and wait until it happens again.  Please keep checking.  And maybe send us a comment or two to motivate us to get things to work!

Anyway, today we took the day off to do some sightseeing in Dominica.  We acted like regular old tourists for the most part, riding around in two vans to some of the hot tourist sites.  Our first stop was a pool that looked like a lovely river swimming hole, but we knew that a more famous tourist spot was close by so we opted to check it out instead.

We therefore started our water day at the Emerald Pool, which is a fabulous small waterfall in a wooded cove that is really sweet for swimming.  The water really does seem to be a deep emerald green color, but not because it is full of algae or other slime.  It's easy to reach, refreshing as a swimming spot, and just an all around good time.  We lounged a bit and frolicked a bit, some swam while others took in the sights, and then we headed toward our next site all the way on the other side of Roseau, where we arrived by boat.

We stopped in Roseau to get Dominican currency (EC dollars, which have an exchange rate of 2.6 or so with one U.S. dollar) and were surprised to learn that there was actually a grocery store open on Sunday afternoon.  We all swarmed in and got cold Cokes for the first time in Dominica.  We also picked up a bunch of lunch meat, cheese, and apples for today's lunch, along with lots of canned meat for future lunches at our worksite.

We then moved on to our big adventure of the day, which was a hike into Trafalgar Falls, another national park area.  The trails to the vista spot were easy to walk, but to get right up to the falls takes some serious bouldering on slippery rocks.  When you get really close to the falls, the offspray is so thick that you can barely open your eyes as you continue forward.

Trafalgar actually is comprised of two falls, one of which is long and narrow and runs HOT.   It collects in little mineral pools at the bottom that would kick the pants of Napa Valley spas.  The other runs colder (but not freezing) and is the safest one to reach.  Thus, we went along the edge of the warm one to get to the cold one and we frolicked quite a bit more before hiking back to the top.

All along the roads we saw lots of water because we skimmed the coast of the Atlantic Ocean then moved around to the coast of the Caribbean Sea.  We also crossed river after river after river and we saw lots of springs that were being tapped in a variety of ways, the most common apparently being bamboo chunks that were either "half pipes" or full stalks that were hollowed out.  We therefore had lots of conversations about water with our drivers and learned some interesting things that relate to our own current project.

As we mentioned in an earlier post (or two), we have been struggling with a bit of guilt about our feeling that we are walking into an unspoiled natural paradise, scraping and paving part of it, then walking away leaving it looking worse than when we started.  We just learned, however, that this plan has been in the works for more than ten years and it was actually a campaign promise of the election two administrations ago that this project would be completed in the Carib Territory.

Based on this knowledge, we now have a renewed sense of pride in what we are doing.  We always thought it was the thing to do because it was the thing we were asked to do, but now we see it as an unfulfilled wish that we can finally help to become a reality.  We are very happy about that shift in our perspective.

We learned a lot in the car(s) today as we talked about history, music, and literature in the Carib Territory and in Dominica at large.  We hope that we are getting a better handle and where we are and what we are doing.  At the end of our excursion today, we ran into a spear fisherman who was walking with his fresh catch.  He sold us everything he had (some of which we have never seen before, some of which looked familiar, and some of which were lobsters and an octopus).  We hauled them home and got advice from our driver about how to use fresh coconut water (the liquid inside the coconut) and coconut meat to make a traditional fish stew.  If all goes well, we will have it for lunch tomorrow.

We also got invitations to go fishing for crayfish and to go to the meadows where a certain kind of grass grows that figures into traditional basket-weaving.  We really hope that we can fit in everything that we are being offered.  We are getting very familiar with what it means to be a Dominican and what it means to be a Carib.  We know that we will never really know either of those things, but we are happy to be getting insights that we never would have gotten from our rooms in Moraga.  We miss home, but we are happy about what is happening for us (and for our hosts) here.   We would still love to hear from you, though, so comment on this blog or write individual emails to the people you know on this trip.  They are all working very hard and could use some encouragement.  Thanks for following!


  1. Greetings one and all,
    I would have written sooner but as a time savings measure I had a stack of pre-written blog responses all set to go that I produced while I had free time last summer. Unfortunately they all began with "I see your return trip to Haiti is going well",and they had to be abandoned and redone.
    The last video of the zip line makes it look like it is really working well. We saw some zip line contraptions over the summer, so that may have triggered an idea in Luke's head. We also saw an indoor sky diving facility, so you should be happy you were not talked into trying to move the gravel down the hill supported on a cushion of air, although videos of you guys taking turns pedaling the thing might have been fun to see.
    You have apparently by accident stumbled upon the place where postcard companies get all their tropical waterfall shots, how cool is that.
    Thanks for sharing your days with us, very fun to follow. Russ

  2. Hi Claire, once again Choweyville sends you our love and best wishes to you and your fellow Argonauts. This time, I really wish we were there with you, the scenery looks beautiful, almost pristine. And to be able to ind such a selection of fresh fish, WOW !!! Hope your stew turns out fantastic. We're wondering if any of those canned meats are "Spam", because nothing says ham like Spam (:-)))
    Your all really making progress towards your "dam" (containment?) What a teat for those people to be able to have fresh water, keep up your good works. If after you've returned and can't lose that desire to dig,,,,, come see us, we've got a lot of dirt.. BY,, Grandma and grumps

  3. Great to follow your work & play!! We at SMC are sooooo proud of all of you. How about a peak at your lodging & some insight about food, etc.?? We love you all!!

  4. HI All,
    Hilary has a large following on this blog. Great readers, poor "commentors". Looks like you are making great progress both in work and play. Keep it up!