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SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer

December 10, 2014

Portsmouth, Dominica

Chris Bunn, A Watch, Colorado College

Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean

Group photo with the Kalinago Dancers

Ship's Log

At anchor in Portsmouth, Dominica

As I rolled out of my bunk still shrugging off the last vestiges of sleep, my sleepy brain struggled to pin down what was different.  Were the lights a little brighter? Had Nina created some new delicacy for breakfast? Perhaps some new Dominican recipe?  Dominican. DOMINICAN!  The morning sun found us at anchor in Portsmouth.  Everything was different.  The tables weren’t gimbaled, the ship wasn’t heeling, things even smelled different.  Up on deck, land smells wafted on tropical breezes.
Breakfast, though delicious, was not what I was looking forward to this morning.  Yes, today we set foot on land for the first time since leaving Gran Canaria.  Just seeing land was strange after days of empty horizons, but to actually set foot on land was fantastically bizarre.  My first footprint in the sand felt like a great wax seal being stamped onto the end of our crossing.  I really don’t think it was until that first footprint that I comprehended our journey up to that point.  Anyway, the point is that
today was not a normal day.

Once everyone had stopped marveling on the oddity of being on dry land, we were herded into vans by our Dominican guides and today’s adventure began. The vast majority of the day was spent on the Carib Reserve, home of the Kalinago people.  We started out with a tour of a traditional Kalinago village.  What struck me on a personal note, was the many similarities I saw between the Kalinago, Dominica, and my home in the Hawaiian Islands.  We then had a lunch of cultural food.  I found the four sandwiches I’d packed to be very unnecessary as we were encouraged to fill our bowls with breadfruit, fish, bananas, soup, and much more.  Lunch was followed by an opportunity to speak with a former Kalinago chief and a Kalinago spiritual
leader.  We peppered them with questions before they turned the show over to a group of Kalinago dancers who shared their songs and dances with us.

Fascinating as it was, time was ticking and we needed to hop back into our vans for the final part of our excursion.  We capped our day off with a talk by Dr. Lennox Honeychurch about the history of Portsmouth.  I did not realize how many historic ships have weighed anchor here over the years.  It was a very interesting talk to end a very interesting day.  Definitely not your average day at sea or at home for that matter.   

- Chris

Previous entry: Welcome to Dominica!!    Next entry: Ship Work Day


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