Friday, May 1, 2015

Indian River....the river of the dead man's chest

I'm one of the big fans of the Pirate of the Caribbean, the famous Hollywood movie. Johnny Depp himself didn't call me to come back to Dominica but the nature itself welcomes me back here again.
When we talk about Dominica, I always tell other people or sailors I met that Dominica is the most pristine island I have even been in the Caribbean and the vegetables I bought from here last more than one week on our sailing boat!
We take advantage from the sailing route that we were North of Dominica, going South until Martinique to meet our friends. Why not stopping in Portsmouth, Dominica where we didn't stop last year when we visited the country. The first time we visited the capital, Roseau.
Our intention anchoring in Portsmouth was to visit the Indian River which we didn't had the chance to do before.

Even if we have a kayak and want to explore the river by ourselves, it's not allowed. The tour must be with local guide. We went with Alexis, a helpful and friendly local guy. He help us to find a mechanic to fix our overheated engine and gave us more information how to explore Portsmouth. The tour for me, Joao and Maria Dee (is free for baby) cost 55 USD. He comes to pick us up at our boat in the morning and bring us straight to the Indian River. The use of engine is not permitted beyond the entrance of the river, so thru the tour, almost 2 hours, Alexis rowed his wooden boat.
My first question was “why the name is called Indian River?” Alexis explained that's because of the Carib Indian who lived around the River before. The name comes from them. The population in Dominica recently is around 70,000 people, among them there are 3,500 Carib Indian which live, mostly, in reserves. In the past, the Indian River was a source for local to come fishing to support their life but after 1995 the government created a law to stop fishing here. The fine for those who defy it is 5,000 EC (around 2,000 USD!). We asked if anyone try to fish and our guide said that never happened.

I confess that I'm not an adventure woman and I don't do this kind of activity often but I'm happy I tried to do it today. I was impressed with the thousand years old trees which, some of them, were here already when Columbus arrived. They gave shade and stand elegantly along the river. It reminds me the Banyan Tree in my country which I saw in the ancient capital of Thailand, Ayutthaya province. We saw also many kinds of tree I have never saw before. I saw, for example, Roseau tree (plant) which the ancient locals used to make the roofs of their houses in the past. Fishes like tarpon and mullets, swim around our boat including local species of crabs and birds that amused Maria Dee and made her to be alert calling them all the time. After all this amazing nature, we went to visit the hut where Johnny Depp was sick in the Pirate of the Caribbean movie! Was not the highlight of the trip at all, but we visited to be able to say that we have been there! Alexis told me that at the time of the movie filming, the Hollywood crew stayed in Portsmouth for 8 months to record the scenes on site. All of them stayed here but Mr. Depp stayed in his private yacht before heading to Les Saintes where his wife was at that time.

Any more movies filming here? Yes, recently even a Russian crew came several times to make a Russian pirate movie. Some of the props were still in the river! This movies industry helps the local economy, bringing extra income each time they have a big project.
The locals live from the Tourism industry and small fishing market. Their normal salary per month is around 1,500- 2,000 EC (less than 1,000 USD).

At least I visit one of 365 rivers Dominica has! Until next time, I hope I can visit some more!
The entrance of the Indian River




Our guide, Alexis
The scene on The Pirate of the Caribbean




A school of fish

Roseau Tree, looks like sugar cane but it's not 

Red blood tree, because of the red resin
Enjoying the trip




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