Hello. That is an awesome road in September’s post. We thought bats were nocturnal and were confused why they were out in the day. Can you take a picture inside the bat cave? We thought your pictures were nice. Also, can you look in the sea to find a shark or take a picture of a volcano? Thank you. Grade 3B
Hello! We have lots of questions. How fun is it to be a librarian? Was finding the killer tree your favorite adventure- are there a lot of them? Does it rain and flood there a lot? We like your waterfalls. The “Day at the Farm” was really awesome. Do you like their football and do you play it? We like the picture of all the bats swirling in the air. Are there any sharks or dolphins that you've seen? Grade 4B
Hi! There is so much to look at! Cool cave. Awesome bats! They are really cool. How big is the bat? How dangerous was it to climb to the bat cave? Did you see any other wildlife on your way to the bat cave? What language do they commonly speak there? How many floods have you seen since you’ve been there? Also, the spiky trees are awesome! Grade 5B
How big is the bat? How dangerous was it to climb to the bat cave? Did you see any other wildlife on your way to the bat cave? We thought bats were nocturnal and were confused why they were out in the day. Can you take a picture inside the bat cave? As far as the size goes, they are about the size of your two hands (take a look at the picture in “To the Bat Cave”). I have not personally gone inside the bat cave yet, but I hope to do so on a future trip (and I will definitely write a story about it—with pictures). I did hike to the entrance area, but my guide felt the tide was too high for me to safely enter. As with all caves, I suppose there is always some danger of roof falls, etc. However, I'm probably more worried about slipping and falling in the guano (bat poop). I've been in several caves in West Virginia (e.g., Seneca Caverns) and Kentucky (e.g., Mammoth Cave), so I'm comfortable with them.
One time I even got the opportunity to go into a working coal mine in central West Virginia. We were issued all the safety equipment that miners have to take with them when they go underground. I even had to carry a round brass token in my pocket—it had a number on it so that they could identify my body if there were to have been a mine disaster. If I survived all my other underground experiences, I think I can handle the bat cave.
You are correct that bats are nocturnal animals. They fly out of their cave each night at dusk here. On this particular occasion, my local guide left me near the entrance of the cave while he went inside and provoked them into flying outside for awhile. I'm sure they were not happy to have their daytime sleep disturbed!
By the way, I have heard that some folks down here actually eat bat meat. Personally, I prefer to watch them fly rather than to kill them for a small amount of breast meat.
Finally, you asked about other wildlife—I will need to do another future story on the animals around here. For example, there are foot-long ground lizards here that look like miniature dinosaurs (see picture below). I also enjoy watching pelicans dive-bomb for fish.
This is a ground lizard. There are also smaller gecko-type lizards (which can often be seen climbing up the wall during church services, among other places).
Are there any sharks or dolphins that you've seen? Also, can you look in the sea to find a shark or take a picture of a volcano? Thankfully I have not seen any sharks, and hope to avoid seeing them (at least while I'm swimming on our beach). I did get to see dolphins while riding on a catamaran during our last weekend on St. Lucia. They played in front of and along side our boat for a good while. I've added some arrows to the picture below to help you see them.
I added some arrows to point out the four dolphins swimming alongside our catamaran.There are no active volcanoes on the island of Dominica, but the nearby island of Montserrat has one. In fact, their capital city of Plymouth became a modern-day version of Pompeii (look it up, because it is a fascinating story) when it was destroyed about twenty years ago. I've been told that a lot of the volcanic ashes from Montserrat fell on my village during that eruption.
While Dominica's volcanoes are now dormant, we still have a lot of geothermal activity. There are hot springs around the island. The story I wrote about Trafalgar Falls mentions that the larger waterfall had hot water flowing in it, which felt very unusual.
How many floods have you seen since you’ve been there? Does it rain and flood there a lot? Hurricane season generally runs from July through October. There have been no hurricanes but we did have two tropical storms since I've been here—Erika and Grace (see my previous stories on them at http://kuribbean.blogspot.com/2015/08/putting-up-with-erika_41.html, http://kuribbean.blogspot.com/2015/09/a-post-erika-post.html, and http://kuribbean.blogspot.com/2015/09/bridge-adventures.html). Other than that, the weather has been pretty tame. Most days are sunny with temperatures in the 80s, often with a chance of brief passing showers. Usually it only rains for a short while and then the sun comes out again.
When it does rain hard, the steep hillsides here are prone to landslides. The pictures I posted of the damages from Tropical Storm Erika were primarily from the western side (the Caribbean side) of the island, where the land is a bit different than the Atlantic side. It is dryer on that side—so much so that cactus grows in some areas. Thus when they do get a hard rain, there is generally more runoff and flooding than on our side of the island.
The eastern side gets the prevailing winds and weather, thus we typically get more rain coming off the ocean. The mountains in the interior of the island encourage the clouds to “dump their loads” on this side before crossing to the western side of the island. We have more forest growth (some might say jungle) with leaf litter and loose soil that can absorb the rain. So I am glad that I am on the Atlantic side (plus I prefer swimming in the waves of the Atlantic rather than the calm and placid waters of the Caribbean Sea).
Ironically, these questions were posted on Thursday, November 5. We had a lot of heavy rain that morning, so school was cancelled for that day. After what happened with Tropical Storm Erika (and to a lesser extent, Tropical Storm Grace), everyone seems to be more “jittery” about flooding and landslides. It continued to rain on Friday, so we were sent home after just half a day (giving me time to get this posted on my blog). So far though, it has not been nearly as bad as those two prior storms.
Was finding the killer tree your favorite adventure- are there a lot of them? While it was interesting to see this rare tree, I've had lots of other adventures that I would rate higher (that statement is not a complaint, because I still had a great time that day at Cabrits). We had been told about the Manchineel tree, but had been told that very few of them still exist. I'm glad it was very clearly marked! While I appreciate its unusual characteristics and historical background, it would be fine with me if I don't see another one.
What language do they commonly speak there? English is the official language of Dominica, and it is all that is taught in schools. However, many people (especially older folks) can also speak kweyol (also known as creole or patois). It is a variation of French and African languages. We were given some training in kweyol, but I must admit that I'm not very good at it. Thankfully I am able to get by just knowing English.
Do you like their football and do you play it? I will need to do a future story about sports down here. I have played a little bit of their football (soccer), as well as some cricket and netball. There is also a board game called “Drafts” that I have learned (it is a bit like an advanced form of checkers). Rounders is a popular team sport for women. Dominoes is a serious sport down here. I'm enjoying everything because it is all new to me and I very much enjoy learning about new things.
How fun is it to be a librarian? I think your librarian knows the answer to this one—being around books is always a fun thing! However, since our school is so small (only 31 students), I am glad that I get to do lots of other functions—even filling in as a substitute teacher from time to time.