Monday, February 8, 2016

Dominica: Bubble Beach vs Champagne Reef

Monday, Day 32

I woke up around 6:30 this morning, which was later than expected, considering the music for Carnival started playing at 4am. 

The view from the hotel room ^^

I got up, got ready, and immediately went out to the streets to see what this Caribbean Carnival thing was all about.  

Not impressed. Basically a bunch of really drunk people way too early in the morning. Peeing and puking in the streets.  No joke. And it was like 8am!  Alcohol everywhere, but no food.  Everything was closed. 

(Yep, I took a picture of a pile of puke in the street)

The only option for food was back to the neighboring hotel for a $20 buffet.  I ate as much as I could, but definitely didn't get my money's worth: eggs and granola and bread and oatmeal...


When I got back to the room after breakfast, I realized my Instagram account had been hacked. I was now following way more people than I was last night and had "liked" things I definitely didn't.  I have no idea how or why it happened, but I then spent forever changing passwords on a bunch of my accounts. So annoying. 

Packed up (again) and caught a bus right around the corner from the hotel. 5 EC for a 20 minute bus ride to Soufriere. That is more than the normal price because of Carnival, but still, it's like $2 USD. 

Got dropped off in middle of town and the driver said to walk up the hill.  The "Rodney's Wellnes Retreat" campground would be on the left. 
 It was so hot...and uphill on a dirt road.  I had to carry my overstuffed suitcase because it wouldn't roll on dirt road.  It was pretty awful.  Awful enough that at one point I ditched my bags by some trees on the side of the road and continued walking.  I just wanted to make sure the place was up there and I didn't carry all that stuff for nothing.

But it was there, just where the taxi driver said it would be.  The "wellness retreat" is fantastic - set in tropical garden with all kinds of fruit and nut trees : avocado, cashew, cherry, guava, grapefruit, banana, coconut...  Seriously.  They all grow right there!

It is at the base of a mountain just outside of the town with a river running behind it.  There are toilets and showers (no hot water), and tents set up with air mattresses inside to sleep on.  So kind of roughing it, but kind of not really.  It's pretty nice.

There is a little restaurant and bar and wifi -- and it's only $30/night!  Dominica is not a cheap place.  This was like the cheapest place I could find.  And it's really great! Bevin, the owner, was super nice and so helpful.  (I only booked one night because I was a little nervous, but I"m definitely staying two!)

^^ The "road" to the wellness retreat that I had to carry my suitcase down.




Anyways, enough about the place  I dropped off my bags in my tent and walked straight down to check out Bubble Beach.  It was on "my list" of things to do, and was one of the reasons I booked this place down towards the southern part of the island.  Bevin said it was just a few minutes walk, in town in front of the church.

So the volcanic gases rise up from the ocean floor, and it bubbles up through the ocean water, and warms it up!  No joke!  It was like a natural outdoor hot tub with bubbles.  Pretty cool, but I wasn't that impressed.

I had seen pictures of something else bubbling way more, and that is what I wanted to see.  So after a short time there, I set off walking up to Champagne Reef.  I didn't remember it being that far back along the road, and surely I could walk.  HA!  It was so hot and the road was so didn't last long.  And I didn't make it far.  Luckily a bus came by and picked me up.  I jumped all over that. 2.50 EC for the short ride was worth every penny.  I would have been walking for hours I think!  (It was further than I remembered.)

The Champagne Reef spot was great - well set up with showers and a restaurant.  A little more on the touristy side compared to Bubble Beach.  They had snorkel stuff to rent and everything.  A really nice spot.

I was so excited and had to ask a worker where the best spot was to "see the bubbles!".  He said all the way down to the end, until you can't walk anymore, and then walk out along the black mat, and stay to the left.  So that is exactly what I did.

I got in the water, stayed to left, and instantly saw the bubbles!   Now THIS was what I came for!  It was  such a cool experience to swim around in volcanic gases in the ocean!  You could hear them fizzing up and feel them on your skin. I couldn't get a good picture or video of them really, but it didn't stop me from seen below. ;)


I thought Champagne Reef was WAY better than Bubble Beach.  I guess it depends on what you want/like.  Bubble beach is cool - like outdoor hot tub in the ocean - but champagne reef is way better for snorkeling.  There is coral and fish...AND bubbles!  Just a little more exciting for me.

When I was done snorkeling, I stood in the sun to warm up (the water is so cold!) and then went back up to restaurant and ordered club sandwich with a fried egg.  Simple, right?  It took AN HOUR to get!  Honestly, how doesn't take that long to make that?! And it wasn't even very good.

There was a stray cat meowing by me so I gave him my tomato and lettuce. He loved it!  (At least someone did.)


I randomly saw the same guy who gave me his card yesterday in Roseau at the ferry terminal.  I recognized his voice and just new it was him.  And sure enough, it was!  He was with another tourist couple but drove me back to Scotts Head - the very southern tip of Dominica - while he waited for them to snorkel at Champagne Reef.


Scott's Head is a beautiful spot where island ends and there is just a thin piece of land that separates the Caribbean Sea from Atlantic Ocean.  I hiked all the way to the top for a view.  )There was a road/trail that went to a look out spot...but I found the hidden trail all the way up!)  The view was incredible...and I took way too many pictures. Like usual.

I walked all the way back to Soufriere from there.  It really wasn't too terribly far, but I"ll just say it looked a lot closer than it actually was.  It took awhile!


And the party was still going on there.  Grandma's dancing in the street... it was too funny.

I collapsed back at the wellness retreat and had a snack.  Being out in the sun and walking had worn me out!

I can't sit around idle for too long, so I started to walk to Sulphur Springs which was supposedly nearby.  But about as soon as I left, rain clouds moved in - it got windy and started sprinkling, so I turned around.  I didn't have my rain jacket and really wasn't interested in getting rained on.

I got some snacks (cookies and crackers and chips, ugh) in the only open market I've seen since being here.  And then went back down to Bubble Beach to catch sunset.

I was worried about finding a spot open for dinner, so I went in the only open restaurant I found that looked decent, and ordered fried fish with rice.  Carnival continued outside, which was nothing but big trucks stacked with speakers blaring and people drunkenly walking along behind them.  It's the strangest thing to me!

And when the food came, it was rough. There were so many bones in fish and rice was way undercooked.  But I choked it down.  On the walk back to the tent,  broke down and bought some sort of fried bread from lady.  I don't normally eat fried anything, but times are tough here, haha!

I really had to shower tonight since I was in the ocean (I dot like salt water on me).  It was ice cold.  Like, not just cold.  ICE cold.  (Not dramatic at all.) ;)  I still managed to wash and everything, but man, it was already cool out and dark, so the cold shower which was basically outside was a tough one.

I hung out with some other guests at the place -- all huddled around one outlet to charge our phones and cameras and laptops.  Went to bed to the sweet sound of nature - frogs and birds and insects (and carnival music in the distance) around 9:30.  Waterfall chasing tomorrow!

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