Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas in Dominica - Portsmouth, Prince Rupert Bay

December 24, 2011  Christmas in Dominica
This is the reason Dominica is called the Rainbow Island - I saw doubles a LOT

The boat boys came over yesterday afternoon, inviting us to a BBQ on the beach being held that evening.  The proceeds go toward their PAL organization, helping fund the security, the mooring ball maintenance etc.

Losing our bearings in the dark and not familiar with exactly where the beach hut was - the boat boys saw our light bobbing out in the harbor and shouted until we heard them.  Good thing! 
Beaching the dingy with their help, we met a number of other cruisers from Denmark, Germany, Australia, France, USA, Holland,  Israel & probably a few countries that I missed. 
Chicken & fish on the grill

Andy taking it all in

Note the madra cloth - tradition from Africian roots

A great evening with good food, fun company, interactions with the local boat boys and great music that got most up and dancing, even Andy! 

Saturday, Christmas Eve, dawned with rain off and on - Dominica’s 365 rivers and the rainforest must need the pours for 5 minutes, then stops.  All day long!

Local shoppers flocking into the market, between rain squalls

We stopped at the local market at 7:30 am for fruit and produce before heading to the Indian River tour with Martin, a/k/a Providence.

My God, the place was packed to the rafters with locals and a few boaters shopping.  Before 8:00 am, most of the produce and fruit was GONE  --- empty bins.  I’ve never seen a place cleaned out so quickly - maybe being Christmas has something to do with the multitude of shoppers purchasing food.

Andy, back breaking,  carried my bag laded with grapefruit, passion fruit, oranges, lettuce, bananas, eggplants, squash, limes, avocado, Chinese cabbage, and onions.  Dominica also has the least expensive foods I’ve seen thus far -- OR, the Dominicans are too nice to overcharge the obvious tourist!

It was soo crowded inside, I could hardly make my way through the aisles

Passing the fishermen on the dock preparing to go out

Note the row of fishing hooks and the line
The Indian River cruise with Martin at the helm was wonderful -- a quiet (no motors; only rowing) nearly 3 hours slow pass in and out, under canopy of trees that are like our mangroves and cypress trees, but called bloodroot (I think I got that name right).  
Entering the mouth of the river

Martin rowing against the current

The rain really didn't bother us at all

Thicker, lusher as we rowed deeper up the river

Part of an old railroad built a long time ago to haul mahogany down the mountains
Unlike many of the other islands, here in Dominica, the boat boys are licensed, & must pass numerous tests about the history of their island, about the plants, etc.  We enjoyed this trip and consider it a ‘don’t miss it’ event if one cruises into Portsmouth!  We also noticed that our trip with Martin was longer than some of the other boater’s in the river at the same time.   

Pulling up along side a little rest area, we hiked about, with Martin pointing out the flora and fauna.   

Lizard on a tree

Back on the boat, I cranked up the Christmas music past LOUD and tried not to let a tear or two slide down....never again will I not be home for Christmas.  With 6 kids between us - we are always spread thin during the holidays, but to not get to even one & to my Mom was tougher than I thought it would be.   

Martin cutting flowers he picked for me

Martin carving a bird out of a leaf

Sharon holding the bird Martin wove

A boater came by in his dingy, certainly brightening my mood,  inviting us to an impromptu Christmas Eve cocktail hour on the beach at 5:00, which we readily accepted!  Talking of Christmas customs among the diverse group from all over the world was interesting. 

Our Christmas decorations - the flowers & bird from Martin & our little tree

Ultimately, a bit disappointed, Andy & I decided to not go to Midnight Mass from 10:30 til 12:00 in town and to stay for the island’s Street Party - which welcomes in Christmas Day.  The idea of dinging over to town, walking to the Church seemed a bit much that late and we were alone and preferred that we would be part of a group.  However, it must have been some celebration - the music rocked our boat til 3:30 am and I could still hear some music at 5:15 am!  

On Dominica, Christmas is not celebrated with gift giving and there is no Santa.  It is all about going to Church and the big celebration and then spending time with friends and family.  Other islands, especially the French ones,  do celebrate much like we do.  I suspect the custom here on Dominica has much to do with their early roots - settlers were mainly slaves.  Their traditions and some of their African culture remain.

More rain on Christmas Day -- poured off/on, canceling our plan to hike up the hill to the Fort overlooking the sea.  Between the rain and the strong winds, we ate our Christmas dinner of Cornish Game Hens inside the boat - a rare occasion for us to be inside!   Martin, our boat boy a/k/a Providence, stopped by in the early evening to wish us a Merry Christmas, drank some wine with us. We laughed a lot, sharing stories about boaters we knew in common. 
Skype communications held somewhat, allowing us to chat with the kids and grandkids, but no video would work.  It’s tough to see the little ones who really don’t speak yet shaking their heads Yes or No in response to our questions!!  Made me homesick all over again!
Sunset off Rupert Bay

The dingy is back on top of Finally Fun, lashed down.  We plan to depart for Les Saintes the small French islands off Guadaloupe at the crack of dawn - weather is cooperating.  We are on the move again. 

The music is coming from this area (daytime shot obviously)
Here I sit, at 11:30 PM, trying to post photos to this blog with the slow wifi, listening to the music really begining to rock from the shore near us.  This music, however, is very much more African than what I perceive Caribbean music to be.  The drums are not steel, the beat much more solid and deeper and the words seem to more than that Creole.  It is wonderfull....I think I'll stay up a lot longer just to listen.


  1. wow nice exploration .... i want to explore also in that kind of beautiful place or in tourist spots in the Philippines |
    top tourist destination in the Philippines for this coming holiday.

  2. Hi Sharon,

    Hope you are enjoying your trip! It was so great to meet you in person in St. Maarten.

    Well here I am again trying to find out info again and your website pops up once again. You are a wealth of information! We just anchored in Dominica and met our boat boy Spaghetti. Just wondering if there are any tipping guidelines for these helpful guys?



  3. HI Sharon,


    1. Ann-Mary Baird - What a small world the internet has made! Unbelieveable that we met your Uncle on Dominica during the BBQ party! We are always asked, "What Caribbean island did you like best?" and for me - Dominica tops the list. The MOST beautiful place - on our way down the island chain we didn't stop as we were way behind the insurance schedule to be in Grenada by June 1 - but crusing past Dominica I remember commenting to Andy how much more LUSH Dominica was compared to the other islands - which were all lush in themselves. It is a very beautiful place and my only regret is that we didn't stay longer and hike more. Your country and its people will always hold a special place in my heart!!