Saturday, December 11, 2010
A GREEN FLASH, FORT RODNEY, THE ARC and SOUFRIERE
Well I had talked about it often, we had waited with anticipation as the last sliver of the sun slid below the horizon but until tonight we had watched in vain. However this evening we had a great bright emerald green flash as the sun set. Gisela has seen one at last, a real “wow” moment.
We visited Pigeon Island a few days ago.
The island is now joined to the mainland because they dumped the spoil from dredging operations in the Rodney Bay Marina and formed a causeway but we dinghied over anyway. It has been quietly conserved without being covered in plastic and keep off signs.
We enjoyed the explanation of the history of Pigeon Island and found out that the freed slaves who feared re-enslavement by the British had, like the Vietcong, built networks of tunnels to hide in and fight from during the “Brigands” rebellion of 1795 and had even captured and held Pigeon island for a while.
But, as before, the British recaptured the island because the location allowed the British sailors to keep an eye on the French fleet in Martinique and provided a very protected anchorage in Rodney Bay with cannon in Fort Rodney atop the left peak.
The location also allowed them to sally forth and attack the French whenever they saw an opportunity.
The climb up to the Fort gave us amazing views and we saw Venomous, the second boat in the race across the Atlantic called the ARC, to finish, come round the corner with the chute flying, drop the chute then beat up to the finish line with most of the crew dangling their legs over the side as if it was a round the cans beer race on a weekend.
We had heard the first boat finish the day before with cannons and steel bands but this seemed much lower key. However maybe the band was on the quayside waiting for them.
Since then there has been a steady stream crossing the line, tyeing up in the marina and having to find their land legs again. But they quickly find them and the way to some cold ones so the bars are full of sunburnt sailors telling “ There I was “ stories.
On the way down from the fort we were lucky to see a fleeting glimpse of a mongoose.
These alien intruders have had a devastating effect on some of the native species especially the snake populations. No bad thing accoding to some, but the loss of a species can never be good.
We took the local bus down to Soufriere. It is quite a contrast to Castries which has many new glass and concrete buildings which would not be out of place in the centre of London. Instead there were old wooden buildings some of which had not been painted for many years. There were of course a few stone or cement block buildings but most were timber and tin roofs.
The Catholic church had a beautiful wooden roof.
The trip down was through some really spectacular scenery with steep sided jungle covered hills and precipitous drops down to unseen rivers.
There were also great scars where the rains from Hurricane Tomas had caused landslides cutting Soufriere off from water, electricity and road connections to the outside world.
We visited an old plantation with extensive gardens and some beautiful flowers.
It also had a stream flowing through it from the local volcanic vents area. The water is heavily mineralised and the content varies as the different vents erupt or subside.
We managed to delay our visit to late afternoon and by then the myriad cruise ship visitors were on their way back to their “all you can eat” buffets aboard ship so we were pretty much the only ones in the gardens.
We met some friendly and fearless locals who begged hard for crumbs.
At the top of the walk we saw the Diamond Falls and further evidence of landslides.
Posted by John Duncker at 6:17 PM