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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dinghy Disruptions… Again

Ok, there are dinghies worse than ours!  However, their boat is
on the hard, not in the water, in Pointe A Pitre, Guadaloupe.
They don’t need it to get ashore from anchor.  Then again,
maybe that’s why they’re not at anchor.…

Dinghy butt… aka a wet derriere courtesy a wet dinghy, is common condition among us low-budget cruisers.  In my case, my most frequently worn garmets are those with bottom-halves that dry the quickest – that is, we have chronically bad dinghy problem.  

It is the bane of our existence.  

We alternately pray it will work, make regular sacrifices on its behalf (mostly at chandleries – no small or large animals including human virgins, or alcohol were harmed in sacrifice).

Yes, we already...


That last episode, getting severely smacked about under a dock, resulted in the tube on one side separating from the transom (back of the dinghy), while water poured in quicker than it could be bailed out.  Once Wayne glued it (and all the rigamarole that goes with doing that properly) it held. 

After taunting us the promise of an apparent fix, it continued to leak like a sieve.  We toyed with either stocking it with fish, as the water level inside the boat was more than sufficient, exploding it, or hoping someone would be dumb enough to steal it, poetic justice for them while forcing us to replace it.  Yet we continued to bail and bitch....

Then, the other tube ripped itself off the other side of the transom.

Now we’ve gotten pretty good at bailing, plaining with the drain plug pulled so it empties while we’re underway (thanks, Tomaz, for that tip), and laughing about it.  And, it won’t fill until sinking; it reaches a certain level, about a foot of water across the bottom (for me, that's calf-deep and enough slosh up to the hem of my favorite sundress when sitting), then it stabilizes at that level and doesn’t get any wetter.  Still, after a while, it just isn’t funny.  Since our dinghy potentially doubles as our emergency life raft, which we hope and pray we never need, we do take its inadequacies seriously.

Part of our hike…. Our boat is by the little masts in the more
distant of the two bays, in Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.
So we took a 4-mile hike up and down hills, during the hottest time of the day  (this is the Caribbean equivalent to trudging 10 miles in the snow, barefoot, to school) unsuccessfully seeking the correct epoxy to fix it (the other epoxied side did hold, after all).  We settled for what was available at the third and final chandlery in the area, which, if our dinghy was working, wouldn’t have taken us long to get to.  We did get a huge break on our return trip, hitching a ride back from a local.

Dinghy onboard for repair... again.  This time it's in
Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.  
Wayne winched our decrepit dinghy onto our nice, dry bow deck, glued it, strapped it into place, gave it a day to dry, and…

It didn’t hold.  Not at all.

We’ve decided we will bite the bullet and spend the big bucks and replace it with something new and reliable.  We are currently researching our options and checking availability.

For worriers, waterlogged as our current dinghy is, it still won’t sink, and the places we anchor, we could easily swim to shore.  Transporting groceries from land to boat, however, swimming just can’t cut it and we’re too cheap and lazy to dock on the marina, especially if we’re going to spring for a new dinghy and maybe new outboard motor (that’s another story) for it too.

Meanwhile, it’s inflatable kayak and paddling time again.  We’re grateful we have that option.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

On Porpoise

These buoy birds bid us a fond “Adieu” as
we left the French Caribbean island
of Guadaloupe, headed for Antigua.
Much easier to get a clear photo of
them than the egrets in flight!

Several flocks of white egrets flew past us all too quickly in the dawn light, as we meandered down the River Salee, through the mangroves.

For ten minutes, four of the school of twelve
porpoise played in our bow wake.  We
were stoked!
About ten miles from Guadaloupe, a school of about a dozen porpoise escorted us.

We anchored in English Harbour, Antigua, as it’s one of the country’s customs entry points. 

We enjoyed a stunning sunset from our English Harbour,
Antigua anchorage that night.

Bridge Lifts Before Daybreak

Yeah, my camera’s not too swift on night shots.
Bleary is a lot like blurry; we felt it did look this way, this early.

There’s shortcut from Guadaloupe’s midpoint, across to the island country of Antigua.  The tricky part?  Daybreak is at 6 am.  The bridge is too low for sailboats, and lifts to let them through only once daily, at 5 am from Pointe A Pitre.  The expectation is to queue up 15 minutes prior.

The bridge is also narrow; we talked another sailor with a larger boat out of taking his boat through as there was not enough clearance.  Plus, the river is very shallow, as little 7 feet deep, though in our boat’s case, our 4 1/2 foot draft left plenty of room to spare.

After passing through the bridge, we sat a bit
until it got a bit lighter.
We were up at 4:30 am (thanks to a new little alarm clock we bought the day before and set to be sure), anchor lifted and queued up by 4:45.  The bridge, actually two bridges right next to each other, lifted on one side.  We weren’t sure if it was done lifting.  We were the only boat.

“Allez!” shouted the bridge tender.  Allez?  Oh yeah, I remembered, that’s French for “Go!”  “Go!” I told Wayne.  We went.  Wayne’s eyeballs were blinded by the light from the first bridge, but he was still able to blindly feel his way past the adjacent bridge safely.

Later, our friends Lili and Tomaz asked, “Didn’t you see the light switch from red to green?”  “There was a red and a green light?” we asked, in unison.

Tired as we were, we still believe this was
the most glorious sunrise we've seen.
There was another bridge lift required to pass, 15 minute further down river. Though we’d figured it out by then, This time, the bridge tender urged us on in English, wishing us a good journey.

We pulled off, past the need for bridge lifts for the remainder of our passage, and waited for sunrise for better light to navigate.

The sunrise? The photos tell the story far better than I ever could!



Sunrise mellowed into periwinkle and pink pastels, as we
left the River Salee, entering the ocean separating us
from Antigua, about 40 miles away from that point.
Chris Doyle’s “Cruising Guide to the Leeward Islands” advises, “It’s best to think of the River Salee not as a shortcut, but as an adventure.”  We agree!


Nervy Bird!

This fellow was fearless, and not at all shy.

(Retrospective – we are now in Antigua, 3 Caribbean island countries North of Martinique) 
This little guy hopped aboard as we were pulling anchor in Fort Du France, the capital city of Martinique.    

He’s just a foot or two from Wayne’s face,
as he perches on our dinghy, which is
hoisted from our davits for passage sailing
.


Here he’s on our safety line.




















"Make yourself feel right at home," I said, mostly because he already did!  We took an extra 10 minutes to leave and forgot to pull our side ladder up, we were so amused by this guy’s antics.

He hopped on our settee (think couch)….I did not get the photo
of him hopping into the galley sink and pulling on our fawcett!


When he did finally depart, he landed on another boat. We’re sure he was resuming his routine for a fresh audience.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Mc French?

This billboard was prolific on the Eastern half of Guadaloupe.

While I wonder if French Fries (or pomme frites as they would call them in France) are truly a French versus U.S. creation, the hamburger here is definitely considered “American” (typically United States – though I do not like to forget our Canadian neighbors to the North, nor  Mexico, Central America or South America to our South) food.  A side of fries commonly accompanies it here, too.

Still, McD’s (aka “Mickey Ds” or McDonalds) knows its customers,  and they know their tastes shift.  There are regional favorites to add to the menu to be considered a local favorite. 

In Fort Du France when nearly everything was closed for holiday and the weekend, we were desperate enough to inhabit a McD’s for internet access.   I noticed the mango shakes.  Now I don’t much go to McD’s in the U.S. so can’t say for sure if mango shakes are on the menu there, but betting not.

Still, we’re not quite sure why McBaguettes gave us such a chuckle, but they did.  Actually, if they had them in the U.S., we would be more inclined to consider them as something other than a desperation stop. 

Galley Wench Tales’ purpose is to explore native food and its impact culture. For better or worse, it’s clear cheap, international fast food chains are as much or part of the landscape as traditional “native” foods. 

Old and new… foreground is PointeAPitre’s fresh fish and produce market.
Notice the KFC “logo midpoint on the white building?
If you travel the Caribbean, you will not suffer burger and fries withdrawal from McD’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken or Domino’s pizza.  Burger King periodically pops up as well.  A Coca Cola on the side can be had nearly anywhere.  Coke’s distinctive logo is part of the fabric of even rural Caribbean landscapes, but Pepsi products are about as scarce as U.S. beers (Wayne practically felt like he died and went to heaven when Bailey's Market in Antigua had a couple Diet Mountain Dews from PepsiCo).

If I do frequent non-native fast food, I’ll be looking for what makes it local.  And billboards, well, well, they’re calorie-free.

When $1300 Is A Cheap Repair


Cedric of Fred's Marine,
Pointe A Pitre, Guadaloupe,
scales our mizzen mast,
winched up via our bosun chair.
“Honey, that doesn’t look right,” is undoubtedly invokes dread when my husband hears it. Didn’t help that we were getting rained on while heading into the wind and knew we would be for a while.

Even though my lack of sailing know-how is still somewhat appalling, I’m not completely clueless.  We’re pretty good about keeping ship-shape, which among other habits means when we’re moving on the water, nothing’s loose.  All parts are tied, cinched, strapped or stowed. So when I saw a turnbuckle dangling rather than solidly attached on both ends with a thick wire cable, I drew Wayne’s attention to it immediately.

This particular turnbuckle’s purpose, along with a couple similar cables and turnbuckles (shrouds / stays), is to keep our mizzen  (rear sail) mast connected.  Even though we’ve yet to our mizzen sail, the unplanned disconnection of a large pole that rises over 20 feet through our boat would be very, very bad.

Wayne “MacGyvered” the mizzen shroud to connect the disconnected part to our boat’s port jib winch.  This rendered that particular and frequently used sail unusable, given the wind direction, forcing us to “motor” rather than sail in to our destination, Pointe A Pitre.  But, we got there safely; no mishaps.

Wayne removes his "MacGyver" fix, as it
served its purpose.
However, this makeshift repair was not practical over the long haul.  Dutifully, we set out to integrate Wayne’s mechanical know-how and my ancient high school French “skills” to find help in Pointe A Pitre’s Bas Du Fort marina.  Naturally, it was lunch time, shops were closed for it, so we had to wait….

Our first stop we found someone with the know how, but when we asked him when he could do the repair, he said, “Never; I’m so busy I shouldn’t be in the shop right now!”  Serendipitously, when we figured we’d finally find someone to help us address another issue, regaining our reverse gear by replacing our current propeller, we struck gold.  Cedric at Fred’s Marine couldn’t help us with our propeller, but said he worked on rigging.  Noticing a turnbuckle in their inventory similar to ours, I asked, “Could you help us fix our mizzen standing rigging?” He responded, “I can look at it right now on your boat, if you’d like.”
And he did.  Not only that, he also re-attached our flag halyard line, our windex (wind direction indicator that sits atop the mast) and inspected all our other “mast holders” (shrouds and stays).  Three out of four lower stays were cracked on the mainmast.  We replaced all of them as Cedric was able to complete the work in the next few business days. 

Cedric diagrams our standing rigging issues.
The total for this work, parts and labor, was ~$1300, not chump change for us.  We had planned to replace these stays in about 6 months, when we expect to be back in the U.S.  Wayne figured it would’ve cost us a bit less in the U.S., maybe a couple hundred less, though he budgeted for more than that.
We felt a lot better getting this fixed before we set out for a 40+ mile sail to our next country, Antigua.  Cedric even talked us out of making some repairs, offering simpler, more cost effective alternatives, so we feel he had our best interests at heart.

Even with our repair bill in hand, we were grateful for the work
Cedric did.  See the swage crack on the terminal end
Wayne's pointing to?  Keeping it in place, unaware
of its defects, could've been disastrous.
“You dodged a very expensive bullet,” fellow cruising friend Scott Dickens (see http://home.earthlink.net/~kimdickens/ for more on Scott & Kim) emailed, when he heard.  We agree, and are grateful to Cedric and Fred’s Marine.

Cedric also put us on track with the folks who were able to help us regain reverse gear…. More on that in another post.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving, Caribbean Style

From in Bailey's Super Market Antigua, Falmouth Harbor
We're in Antigua, Caribbean.  We are thrilled to introduce Thanksgiving to our Slovenian friends and fellow cruisers, Lili & Tomaz.

We are also thankful despite our lack of planning to be able to pick up some semblance of "the fixins'" for the most part for the holiday.

Sure... if we were at home I would make everything from scratch, right down to the home made cranberry sauce with pecans and the sweet potato pie with bourbon and savory spices (ask me for the recipes if you want -- they're awesome!).

When you realize that you don't have all day or more to thaw a frozen turkey and your oven is not that much bigger than a toaster, you figure out how to make do.

Wayne chips in on Thanksgiving prep with
he mashed potatoes.  I love my husband!
Frozen turkey breast? Excellent. Precooked beets from French Guadaloupe with blue cheese crumbles?  Salad!   Packaged powdered gravy will do just fine, thank you, with home made mashed potatoes -- the real deal.  Cranberry sauce in a can and the ability to add fresh oranges? Check.  Home made pumpkin pie that someone else made from the local store?  Perfect!  Packaged stuffing mix with some fresh goodies to jazz it up will do just fine.   Friends to share it with, bringing eggplant for a veg?  Yay!

Lili & Tomaz, friends and fellow cruisers.  Lili's blog is excellent.
Click on http://heronsailing.blogspot.com to check it out.
What we realize most about Thanksgiving.... what's most important of all is sharing it with someone.  In that, we are very blessed; for those here to share it with and those we're sharing it with in our hearts.  Thank you, all.

May you feel as blessed on this and all Thanksgivings as we do.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Silly Signs & Caribbean Identity Crises


Fashionable pedestrian
street in Fort Du France,
French territory, Martinique.
A quarter mile from shore, we saw silver, glinting.  I could’ve sworn it was a metallic Statue of Liberty.  But we were in the French territory of Martinique, its capital city, the very European Fort Du France.
It was a Statue of Liberty!  For a
Fort Du France clothing store fa├žade.

In a past life, I was the North American representative for a Hewlett-Packard-based division in San Diego.  It’s hardly the place I’d look to for international fashion cache…. for couture-crazy trendsetting Francophiles!

New York, Hollywood, San Francisco
maybe, but… San Diego for
a fashion clothing store in
Fort Du France?
Surely, the Caribbean French must be possessed by some kind of identity crises!

There is no doubt a different
French meaning for the
word tampon other than an
internally placed feminine
hygiene product

Dy-na-mite Time on the Indian River


Our guide, Alexi, begins rowing us down the Indian River.
“Ya gotta hire Alexi when you go to Dominica and take the Indian River Tour!” Dave (a fun Canadian we met in St. Lucia; click here for more about our adventures with Dave) insisted. 

We’re kinda cheapskates and normally avoid paid tour guides like the plague, but decided to trust Dave.  Good call!

Dominica’s Indian River
mangroves cast an otherworldly
aura, filled with unique flora
and fauna that twists, slithers
and flies.
Dominica offers and promotes a training and certification program for tour guides; it makes a difference.  Guides are also part of Dominica’s strategy to keep their natural areas pristine, while still providing tourist access through trained guides.  Indian River, Portsmouth in Northwest Dominica is one of those areas.  Travel down Indian River is by guided rowing; no engines.

White egret, along the
Indian River, Dominica.
Dominican guides respect your choice to not work with a guide in non-guide required areas, and once you’ve chosen a guide, they will respect your choice.  Soufriere St. Lucia could learn a lot from Dominica’s program!

Alexi loaded us up with a veritable bounty… passion fruit,
star fruit (aka “five finger”), sweet orange, grapefruit,
green beans, okra, lemongrass, bay leaves….
Alexi’s roots run deep in Dominica; his memories stretch back to when he hunted in the forests he guides.  He’s reluctantly let romances wither as they would have taken him away from Dominica.

NPR Splendid Table’s Lynne Rosetto Kasper once mentioned using bay leaves was a waste of time, that most cooks are better off just adding lemon juice instead.  Fresh bay leaves, she explained, are lemony, bearing no resemblance to those dusty dark olive-green dried leaves most of us are more familiar with.  Now, thanks to Alexi and his brother,  I know, firsthand what she means!

Like a Pied Piper, Alexi leads us through
his brother’s sprawling plantation,
where a variety of fruits, vegetables
and herbs are grown.
Alexi shares the literal roots of his brother’s place on his tours; a plantation.  There, we drank the best fresh passion fruit juice we’ve ever had, and tried our first homegrown rum punch, “Dynamite.” 

While “Dynamite,” Alexi’s
brother’s homegrown rum
concoction sounds more
like white lightening or
Everclear, it’s much more
juicy than rum-y and we’re
saving it to share as a special
treat with other cruisers for
a “sundowner.”
Bottom line:  Alexi’s Indian River tour is not that expensive, about $50 total USD for the two of us (~$37 USD for Alexi plus an additional park access fee ~$5.00 USD each, we’d have had to pay regardless of whether or not we had a guide).  The tour ran about 3 hours; well worth the time and the money, even for cheapskates like us.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Invasion of the Weed-Whacker


Fort Du France waterfront, about 1/2 hour or so after
the weed-whacker brigade started.  Any earlier and it
was too dark to successfully take a photo with my current camera.
It’s oh-dark-hundred, sometime between 4 and 5:30 am. 

We’re anchored outside a classic French Territory beach town… government docks, gazebo amphitheater, park benches, walkways, adjacent beach.  In this case, capital of Martinique’s Fort Du France*, there’s also a kid’s playground with swing-sets, tennis and basketball courts. 

Then… Bbbbbbrrrrrr-zzzzzzziiiiiiiiinnnnnnngggggg. Bbbbbbrrrrrr-zzzzzzziiiiiiiiinnnnnnngggggg. Bbbbbbrrrrrr-zzzzzzziiiiiiiiinnnnnnngggggg.

Now... if you are awaken early anchoring in Fort Du France,
watching the day break sure is pretty.  There are a lot
worse ways to start your day.
It’s weed-whacker time as the nasal two-stroke motor that supplants lawn mowers (when the other alternative, goats are not used) here in the Caribbean gets to work.  To be fair, we can understand why it would be less than appealing to do the task when it’s 85 degrees with 85% humidity under the blazing sun.  And not weed whacking when kids are playing inches away may make more sense than noise abatement considerations.

Massive perimeter clearing at an otherwise peaceful waterfall
in the hills of Martinique.  Note weed-whacker in action
with the fellow on the right.
But then, on our Martinique road trip, we’re driving through a lush, wild rainforest.  We pull over for the “natural wonder” stop, marking a hiking trail of note.  Several other cars, families ambling out, follow suit.  Seems to be a popular time and spot to visit as we’ve seen few fellow tourists in our off-season travels here.  We, and the other tourists, clamber down a dirt and loose rock trail, cross a stream, and find ourselves at a lovely little waterfall.  The air is filled with the sound of… Bbbbbbrrrrrr-zzzzzzziiiiiiiiinnnnnnngggggg. Bbbbbbrrrrrr-zzzzzzziiiiiiiiinnnnnnngggggg. Bbbbbbrrrrrr-zzzzzzziiiiiiiiinnnnnnngggggg -- a weed-wacker.  The view, blocked by maintenance workers.

The logic?  Dunno.

Goats -- much quieter than weed whackers and cute as heck!
Bring on the goats!  It’s okay if you throw in George Clooney too, but only if he has a decent script.

*retrospective -- we are at the moment in Guadaloupe -- our 2nd country since Martinique

Friday, November 16, 2012

Male Nuts

Breadfruits in a wheelbarrow at the Portsmouth
open air market in Dominica.

Breadfruit, imported to the Caribbean as a cheap source of food back in the days of slavery, is literally embedded in both the landscape and culture.  Breadfruit trees are handsome, often stretching 30+ feet.  Its leaves are large, lobed and glossy, fruits, bright yellow-green and pendulous.

I’ve yet to tackle cooking with breadfruit yet myself, mostly due to its large size (the length of its oval shape is often between ¾ and 1 foot and our food storage space is quite limited), long cook times and massive starchiness… Yet, it intrigues me. 

Gregory was the breadfruit nut “chef”
and like many vendors, also sold his
own rumpunch, which we did
not buy.
About 1 ½ cups of hot, freshly
boiled and salted breadfruit
nuts cost a mere $2EC, or
about 75 cents US.  They
tasted a bit like creamy chestnuts.
Yummy!
To my delight, Wayne spotted something I hadn’t heard of… breadfruit “nuts” at the Portsmouth open-air produce market.  The fruits are produced from a male breadfruit tree, only.  To cook the ripe seeds takes about 4 hours of boiling, or 1 hour with a pressure cooker.  As I don’t own a pressure cooker, I’ll happily buy breadfruit nuts someone else cooks if I’m lucky enough to find them again.


Organic and Crude versus Fancy Pants


The Rum Museum in Martinique sprawls with
pristine exhibits through two 2-story
buildings in its quest to cover
Martinique’s rum history, the
evolution of the distillation process
technology and St. James’ Rum brand.

While Wayne and I joke that our fantasy for this trip is to drink cheap rum drinks, dancing to a live steel drum band on a moonlit beach, rum is seriously big business in the Caribbean; in Antigua and Barbuda it's represented nearly 30% of the country's export products.

Sugar cane production’s nolonger a sweet indulgence here; it’s primarily used to fuel high-octanerum.  Rum (or as they sometimes call it, “Rhum”) distilleries are prominently promoted on tour maps, in guide books and in tourist offices.  Like beer, local brews are a source of cultural pride.  At the 

In our quest for knowledge and cheap entertainment, we figured checking out a distillery was a no-brainer.

Fancy Pants:  The Rum Museum

In Martinique, we combined our island road trip with a stop at The Rum Museum, aka St. James Rum, in St. Marie.  It was a free, self-guided tour.  We were unable to see “the crush” part of the process as the sugar cane harvest season was not due to resume until December; we were there in November.  We also missed the factory tour, which we didn’t know was every morning at 11:30 am, we suspect in conjunction with a packed cruise ship bus.

St. James boasts a centuries-old legacy, and produces a staggering array of rums.  It was breifly part of the Cointreau family.  We opted to try what we saw sold in large quantities at Leader Price (a European-based grocery store found in larger French territory Caribbean towns with lots of store brand products at excellent prices), as well as their older, premium aged rum.  We liked the premium rum, but weren’t up for buying a large quantity for something I would sip rarely; Wayne is far less fussy and is just as happy with cut-rate rum I wouldn't touch.  We bought a less premium rum, as it was one of the few available for purchase in a small, “fifth” size.

At Macoucheri, in Dominica, we were
given a private tour.  There were
no canned displays.  Everything
in the process was very
manual, but organic farming methods
were used.
Organic & Crude: Macoucheri Estates
When we anchored in Salisbury, Dominica, between the capital, Roseau and Portsmouth, there wasn’t a whole lot of activity options nearby.  Mostly, it was just a decent anchorage roughly halfway between Roseau and Portsmouth.

We walked down Salisbury’s two-lane, mostly shoulder-less rural highway, to check out Macoucheri Estates.  We were confident a tour there would be a vastly different experience than the glitzy St. James Rum Museum.  Once we spotted the faded sign, we ambled up the dirt road to Macoucheri Estates.  Cautiously, we ignored the dog appraising us, as we knew we had nothing to offer the mildly curious hound. We figured, correctly, the ramshackle wooden out-building where a couple guys were operating some ancient, mechanized equipment (doing maintenance, we later discovered), was part of the “factory” but not the starting point to engage a tour.  We took our best guess at where the office was in a plain, weathered stucco, wood and metal building. Ambling up the cement steps to the second story, we entered a good-sized, mostly empty room.  In it was a staffed desk, a tablecloth covered card table, topped with several rum bottles.

Within a few minutes, the receptionist / secretary connected us to a nice fellow who promptly took us on tour.  Our guide explained weeds growing amidst the sugar cane fields were hand-picked.  At Macoucheri their fields were not burned, and the cane was composted.  Much of their equipment was water powered, from water running through the Estate.  Rum production quality tests appeared to be geared more around achieving the correct alcohol content, than the correct flavor.

The tour lasted about 15 minutes, including small sips of two of the few rums Macoucheri produces. After a few sips, we selected a favorite and decided to purchase it.   Then we discovered the tour was not free, though that was not mentioned in our guidebook, there were no tour cost signs, nor were we told until our tour was completed and we took out cash to purchase rum.  We had no money left after paying (about $4.50 each US) for the tour to buy the very affordably priced and tasty Macoucheri rum.

Rum-Didly
Two rum “factory tours,”each quite different, though neither of which were producing anything at the time.

Our fantasy to drink cheap rum drinks, dancing to a live steel drum band on a moonlit beach, lives on.  Most likely, the rum will be neither St. James nor Macoucheri.

Jump Up: The Coolest Experience Are… FREE… If…

Roseau, Dominique sunset from our boat, before we dinghied in to Jump Up

You get the local skinny.  In this case, in chatting up the local bartender at a hotel bar (one of the few businesses open on that holiday day), he told us about the “Jump Up” happening that night in town. 

Previously, we kinda sorta went to a Jump Up in St. Lucia in Gros Inlet next to Rodney Bay.   Going to the Gros Inlet Jump Up was an accident.  We were in search of a taste of the legendary lambi, (conch – a shellfish from a really big shell).  We stopped at a Gros Inlet bar-restaurant whose owner told us earlier that day they’d be serving lambi.  Only… they weren’t.

We asked who where we could find some lambi, and were sent off with vague directions to a place that we thought was a minute or two away.  It wasn’t. 

But it did land us in the heart of the weekly Friday night “Jump Up,” an extravaganza of food, drink, music, dancing and a lot of soulful looking, chop-licking pregnant female dogs.  Only, it was around 7 pm, and the Jump Ups don’t really get jumping until closer to midnight in Gros Inlet.  Given we’re usually up by 5 or 6 am these days, we knew our jump up by then would be jumped up and gone to bed and snoring. 

We did, however, accomplish our mission or licking some delicious lambi.  It wasn’t much more than that; a kebab with four very small bites for about $10 US. The BBQ chicken leg was a much better and almost as delish a deal for about $2.50 U.S.

Capital city of Dominique, Roseau from the Jack's Walk
hike viewpoint
Fortunately, in Roseau, Dominica, Jump Ups are more of a family affair and didn’t require being a midnight owl to join the magnificent merry madness.  There were thousands of folks there of all ages, an undulating Congo line of sorts, moving and grooving the music, blasted out from a 3-story-high band van (not sure if in its former life it was a triple-decker bus, an army vehicle or what).  We joined in, gleefully.

We came.  We saw. We Jumped Up.  And it was good. And easy.  And fun. And … free!