25th April 2022
When writing prose some words are overused to exaggerate experiences. Enormous, breath-taking, magnificent, awesome, spectacular, remarkable, unforgettable, extraordinary, unique, memorable are all in this group, but all these should be used excessively in every sentence and in every way when describing Dominica. The waterfalls in Dominica have been enormous, breath-taking and magnificent, the hiking has been awesome, spectacular and remarkable while the people have been unforgettable, extraordinary and unique. Overall, Dominica has be extraordinarily memorable.
The first time Dominica was to take our breaths was in the most unexpected way. We’d hatched a plan to hike the hills that look down on Portsmouth which harbour incredible wildlife and where at every turn you can find papaya, cocoa and plantain. We started mousing our way up, passing goats, egrets and butterflies and finally found the signpost to the trail. This signpost not only showed the way but also gave clues as to what we’d find.
Instead of standing upright, having been freshly cleaned it lay in the dirt partially rotted and pointed through thick undergrowth. Unperturbed we wacked our way through bush, pushed through unrelenting terrain and found ourselves at a suspension bridge that was in the same state of repair as the sign. The cables were rusty, the infrequent floor boards were rotten and it seemed to be only held up by vines that twisted their way around the anchoring points. Not wishing to plunge to our deaths in the rocky river far below we turned tail to once again walk through egrets, goats and butterflies.
Even with the rusty bridge and the trail falling victim to covid and hurricane Maria this first foray into the interior was enlightening. The damage caused by hurricanes was breath-taking as well as the speed in which nature can then return, and thrive and after such devastation.
Back in Portsmouth it was all change in the anchorage. Instead of being alone we were greeted by the sight of Cerulean showing great seamanship and enthusiasm* by sailing onto their anchor. Not only would we be reunited, but Larry & TT could once again rekindle their relationship.
Showing our local knowledge to Cerulean and Zen Again we hopped onto a bus and disappeared into the hinterland, hunting for a waterfall which promised calm pools, a raging torrent and a giant leap. Tearing around the roads the whole bus got involved in our adventure, we were offered advice stopped getting off at the wring place and deposited at the top of a hill with directions to our folly.
We walked over ridges giving unending views of rainforest and soon the distant pounding of cascading water could be heard. Homing in on our destination white water was everywhere, with a tantalising ledge high above it. Like schoolkids Iain & Steve egged each other on and time and time again leapt screaming into the foaming water only to emerge and ask Fiona & Helen “One more time?”.
High from the adventures we all returned to friendly civilisation and were pointed downhill to a ‘busier’ bus stop. If this bus stop was ‘busier’ then we’d hate think how quiet a quiet one was, as no cars, trucks, vans or busses passed going the right way. Finally with the sun starting to hide behind the hills and our hope fading at the same rate a van stopped, turned around, turfed out its only fish carrying passenger and ushered us in. We were home free thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the driver.
The adventures continued coming thick and fast in Dominica as Martin, the Ocean Cruising Club port officer of Dominica showed us the delights of his island. Where we just saw forest, he saw a pantry full of food and a medicine cabinet full of cures. Everything could be processed into something else, from bay leaves into oil, from trees into rope, from sulphur into balms. Martin said the island always provided and provide it did, there was never any need to either go hungry or get sick.
There is a waterfall for everyday on Dominica and with another day we had another waterfall to get to. As usual the busses zoomed us around the island and deposited us where the forests could envelop us. After hiking the hills, we once again found our quarry, but this one was different. This time we had to use all the muscles on our necks to look high up to its source and fight vertigo to see far below where the water crashed into a pool. We were looking at the biggest fall in Dominica and it was majestic in its grandeur.
Removing their soaking hiking clothes** Steve, Iain & Mike tentatively scaled the rocks that surrounded the plunge pool at the base of these huge falls. Gale force winds, generated by the cascading water, threatened to dislodge their footholds and blow them down river but with the prize withing touching distance they dived into the freezing water. The noise was deafening, the power unfathomable and the scale otherworldly. Dominica had once again delivered a unique experience.
Trekking back to the road we once again waited for a bus and once again the bus was non-existent. This time however a pickup with 2 passengers already riding its flatbed stopped and chewed the fat. Joking, we asked if the 6 of us could get a lift and the driver looked at us aghast, of course there was space for 6 of us.
Finding space among the harvested yams and sharp agricultural tools our 20 limbs all intertwined. Bouncing over speed bumps and screeching around hairpin bends we became increasingly knotted becoming almost intimate with our new found friends and then came the time to dismount. In the centre of town with traffic zooming around us we looked like new born fawns stumbling around, as blood found its way back to our toes and we did our best to untangle ourselves; simply unforgettable.
After retiring to our boats and having days of the usual maintenance we once again took to the road, but this time on our own wheels. Instead of just managing a single waterfall in a day we had a list to tick off. The formula was simple; hike, change into wet clothes, dive in the water, get massaged by the fall, and repeat time and again. There was however one fall with a special twist.
Iain had found a little-known trail named ‘Secret pool’. The pool was so secret it appeared on no maps, had no listing on google and there were no signposts to it. We gingerly parked on the edge of a non-descript road and were instantly faced with a waist high river to ford. Not to be perturbed we pushed through the water, scrambled up vertical climbs and through the dense forest. Rounding a final bend we found the secret pool and it felt so special as it was so secret. Water cascaded into the pool where birds swooped overhead and crabs sat on the side waiting for us to leave. We were alone, far from the tourist trail and far from any signs of man.
Everything we have found on Dominica should have the verb*** enormous, breath-taking, magnificent, awesome, spectacular, remarkable, unforgettable, extraordinary, unique or memorable prefixed before it. Dominica really is enormous, breath-taking, magnificent, awesome, spectacular, remarkable, unforgettable, extraordinary, unique and memorable.
* There wasn’t much enthusiasm for sailing on board Cerulean, sailing was a requirement as their thrust bearing was in the process of shedding its bearings.
** and replacing them with swimming trunks!
*** Iain failed his GCSE English so these might be either verbs, adverbs or even conjuncted nouns as far as Iain knows.
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