Thursday, March 31, 2016

My Indiana Jones Day

Each night as I was growing up during the 1960s and '70s, we watched the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. Reports from the Vietnam War were often thrust into our living room. Because of my interest in history and archeology, one of my vivid memories is film coverage of battles taking place around ancient stone temple ruins amidst the jungle. I was fascinated by the way the jungle was reclaiming the architectural efforts of man. I must not have been the only one fascinated by these scenes, as many Hollywood movies (Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider, etc.) have replicated similar scenes.
Recently I got to see something similar—the ruins of a British military outpost built in the 1700s that had been abandoned about a century-and-a-half ago. If you look close in the picture above, you can see me standing next to the roots of a large ficus tree that is towering above this old stone building. Below are more pictures showing how the jungle is reclaiming what man had once built. It is somewhat startling to be hiking through the forest and then find yourself among these eerily quiet ruins.
This is a panoramic view taken from inside one of the buildings.
Here are a few of the abandoned cannons I noticed along the way.
During the course of the day, we encountered seven different snakes, such as the tail of one shown below slithering into a crack in the mortar between the bricks in this wall. The fact that there are no venomous snakes on the island of Dominica makes exploring jungle ruins much less worrisome—if there were copperheads or timber rattlesnakes (as we have in my home state of West Virginia), this hike would not have been near as fun! I nearly stepped on a couple of them!
There were also bats hanging from the ceilings in some of the ruins. It is hard to see them because of the poor lighting, but here is a cluster that was hanging around together in a vault.
There are also some incredible views from some of the “lookouts” on this peak that overlooks the bay at Portsmouth. Below I am pictured next to a small mortar cannon.
Next is a picture looking out on Prince Rupert's Bay and the city of Portsmouth. This was the view from the small mortar cannon above.
Next is a view from the opposite side of the hill, looking north towards the island of Guadeloupe, with the beach hundreds of feet below.
Finally, here is a panoramic picture that shows the narrow isthmus that connects the twin peaks of Cabrits National Park to the mainland.
I had previously visited Cabrits National Park back in September, and shared some pictures of the restored fortifications, but here is an example showing cannons that have been returned to their original condition. Some of you might be interested to know that the settlers who were bound for Jamestown stopped in this bay on their way to Virginia in 1607.
They have done a good job with the restoration work on the main fort and its nearby buildings, but I'm glad that they left some of the other scattered buildings in their natural state of deterioration. What I witnessed on my explorations in the forest provides a good example of power of nature to take over what man leaves behind.
Thanks for coming along with me on my “Kuribbean Quest.” I ended my time at Cabrits by walking over to the beach at Douglas Bay. It was yet another great day in Dominica!

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