Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Rough Roads Scott's Head, Dominica, Friday, 08 January 2016 1:22pm

We started off the day with a driving adventure. There's a rum factory on the west coast, and we figured we could take one of the other roads that we haven't already seen. That road turned out to be more of a dirt track in places, and we got lost a few times because the course has changed due to washouts. Part of the road was along the Layou river, which was running pretty high, and it was easy to see how those washouts could have happened. Our trusty 4x4 handled it with aplomb, under Adrienne's ever-more-expert control.

The Shillingford Estate/Macoucherie Rum factory was a really neat place to visit. The estate was founded in the 1770s, and slave labor produced the rum until the British abolition of slavery in the 1830s. The cane-crusher is powered by a water wheel (one of only two remaining water-powered cane-crushers still in use), driven by an aqueduct. The distillation process is done with steam generated from a wood-fired boiler using a column still. Unfortunately, the factory was badly damaged in Tropical Storm Erika. Large portions of the estate were flooded and some of the equipment and rum was washed out to sea, so the rum is not currently being produced. Hopefully they'll get the repairs done soon.

We'd hoped to have lunch in the area, but discovered that we were out of cash, and all of the restaurants along the beach nearby seemed to be cash only. So we headed into Roseau to stop by a bank and get some lunch. This proved to be another kind of driving adventure, as schools had just let out and the city was one big traffic jam. We ended up crossing the river three times, over three different bridges because of one way streets.

After lunch, traffic had died down considerably, and it was looking fairly clear in the southwest part of the island, so we drove down to Scott's Head. The promontory there overlooks Soufriere Bay, where we did some of our dives, and provides a great view of the island. We could even see Martinique off in the distance.

After hiking down from the top (barely a stroll, after some of our recent hikes), we did some snorkeling in the bay. We saw a small hawksbill turtle, a mutton snapper, and a fair sampling of the fish we might see on a dive. There's a sharp drop-off in about 30 feet of water, so we could free-dive down to where it starts getting deep and have a look before coming back up.