Location: Dominica

Today was our first full day on Dominica and we were all pretty excited since the staff has been talking this island up all trip. We started the day off early with our first real dive with our fancy new dive certifications. The plan was a two tank dive at a nearby reef with a guide from Dive Dominica. We got to Dive Dominica’s pier around 8:30 and loaded up on their dive boat. Dominica is all mountains and rainforest right down to the edge of the shore so the ride over to the dive site was spectacular. The first dive was to 60 feet down a vertical shelf. Several of us who haven’t been that deep before were a little concerned about the pressure, but when we got down there I think everyone felt surprisingly comfortable. We saw some great wildlife but to me the most exciting part was getting all the way down to 60 feet without any problems. We spent about 40 minutes underwater then surfaced to get fresh tanks and go to the second dive site. The second dive was to about 40 feet at a flatter reef with even more variety of wildlife. We saw everything from tube worms to sea slugs and porcupine fish. Some of the barrel sponges we saw were big enough that any one of us could have fit completely inside them. After the dive, we went back to Ocean Star for a quick lunch before we had shore time to explore the island. On the long walk to Roseau, we got our first experience with Dominican driving. As we were walking down the road (no sidewalks, of course), cars were whizzing by a foot from us, always blaring their horn when they were right on top of us instead of honking with enough warning for us to actually get out of the way. Once we got into town, the group split up and went a couple of different ways. Some found an internet cafe to send emails and check face book while others just wandered around looking for a place to get ice cream. It was steaming hot outside and at one point, Matti, Adam DeStefano, Kristen and I found a large vent in the side of a building that was blowing gloriously cool air. We stood in front of it basking in the refreshing breeze for a good five minutes while all the locals were treated to a hearty laugh out of the scene. The night before, a Carnival Cruise ship had arrived and docked in Roseau. This was the first time on the entire trip that when locals asked us which boat we were on we couldn’t say, “We’re on the big boat.” While we were still exploring around town, a few of us meandered over to the pier to observe the cruise passengers and check out some of the street vendors’ tents set up where the cruise ship was docked. You would think we would have felt envious of the cruise passengers with their clean clothes, freshwater showers and the fact that they didn’t lift a finger to propel their boat to this beautiful island. Instead, we felt a strange feeling of superiority over them and we all agreed that we had a renewed appreciation for the opportunity we have to see the Caribbean the way we are aboard Ocean Star.