Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Dominica: Waterfalls

Tuesday, Day 33

I actually slept considerably better than I was expecting to last night! There was a breeze that cooled down the tent and the music in town eventually stopped. There's no "sleeping in" in nature though. The roosters started crowing around 5 and I was up around 6 when the sun peeked through the open vents on the tent.

I got up to go to the bathroom and came back to discover ants crawling all over the floor of the tent. Ugh. I guess they're harmless but I'm not a fan.  Still, staying in this wellness retreat is pretty cool.

Got up and got ready for the day, ordered breakfast here, and talked to Bevin (owner) about how to get around today.  He gave me the number of a local guide/driver and after a quick call,  he said he would take me to Wavine Cirque today -- a cool waterfall that I hadn't heard about before seeing it in a magazine here yesterday.  It's a waterfall on the beach on the (rough) eastern shore, and has a crazy hard hike to get to it.  It was rated "H" for hazardous -- not even in the intermediate or advanced category!

Anyways, breakfast came -- two fried eggs, some bread and jam, and some fruit, and then set off with another guy, Tracey, from the retreat who wanted to hike the waterfall, too.

Walked in to the town of Sofriere to catch a bus to Roseau, where my hired guy was supposed to pick me up.  I figured with Carnival going on today, there would be all kinds of buses running to Roseau (the main town) where the big show was.  But I was wrong.  I sat and waited and waited and waited under the bus stand -- because it started raining -- for almost 30 minutes, before I finally decided to stand up and be pro-active with hitchhiking.  I can only be patient for so long.

And sure enough, the first guy that drove through in a pickup truck stopped and I really just ran and hopped in the bed of the truck before he could say no.  I mean I asked if he was going to Roseau, and a local guy behind me was yelling at him to take me to town...so yeah.  I hitched a ride in the bed of a truck...right next to a bucket of fish.  In the rain.  Ugh.



It was a crazy drive and it was windy and raining.  So, I mean, not the most enjoyable, but there was a stunning rainbow to ease the pain. ;)

The guy dropped us off almost to Roseau, where he was turning off the main road.  We only had to walk another block or two until another guy pulled over to let us in for the rest of the ride.  Easy enough.

In town, I went back to the Garraway Hotel to use the free wifi (from when I stayed there two nights ago) to call my guy.  He showed up 10 minutes later, ready to roll.

So off we went, up and over the mountain in the rain, to the Wavine Cirque waterfall -- which he had never been to.  HA!  He had to stop and ask twice for directions, but he found the place...and even decided to do the hike with us!

Nicodemus was at the top of the trail head, just like the guide books said.  He lives there and maintains the trail.  There were also two little girls sitting there.  I took one picture of them, then one girl grabbed my phone and took a picture of the other girl posing.  She knew exactly how to work the iPhone!


Okay, so the trail.  Me and three guys -- all with longer legs than me, mind you.  It started out easy enough, and honestly, even after hearing a little about the trail, I still thought it would be a piece of cake.

The first steep part came, and you just kind of had to hang on to the rope to keep your balance while walking down.  But then I looked up and was like, "Ummmm, excuse me, where's the trail?"  It literally was a straight drop down off a cliff.  No joke.  Not even exaggerating!

And it continued.  It was just down a cliff.  At one point, there were no tree roots or branches to hold on to, so there was a rickety little shaky ladder with ropes and planks of wood hanging off the side.  It.Was.Awesome.  Like, my favorite part of the day maybe.  Anything for a little rush...

When we got down to the ocean, it was more hiking up and over big boulders to get to the actual waterfall.  And the black sand was just glistening like diamonds!  I tried to get a picture, but of course it didn't turn out.  Capturing sparkles is hard to do I guess. ;)

The waterfall... it was cool.  I mean, its not every day you see a waterfall pouring off the side of a cliff in to the ocean.  But I'll be honest, it looked WAY better in the magazine, haha!  They always make those pictures fake and look way better than real life! ;)  I enjoyed it, really.  But it was just a little  disappointing from what I had in my head.  But lucky for me, the hike MORE than made up for that.




Before we went back up, my guide found a coconut on the beach (they were everywhere) and cut it open by hitting it on a rock, and then passed it out for us to eat!  Real, raw coconut...right from the tree on the beach!

The hike back up was strenuous, but easier.  I mean blindly back climbing down was thrilling.  Climbing up was just hard.  And my legs were just an inch or two short of several of the holds.  Which meant I had to strictly rely on upper body strength to pull myself up the rope just enough for my feet to reach.  The long-legged guys had it so much easier. ;)

I tipped Nicodemus 10EC for keeping that trail so "maintained" with ropes, and he let me pee behind his shed. Fair trade. ;). Then we set off down the road for waterfall number two:  Emerald Pools.

My guide, his last name was Durant (or something that sounds similar to that) was really fantastic.  He pointed out everything.  Lemon grass (that smelled just like lemon) and razor grass (that would cut your legs).  Bay leaves and cinnamon trees, which he even stopped to carve a piece out for us from a cinnamon tree. Smelled like heaven!

Anyways, Emerald Pools wasn't far away, but we had to make a stop at a little road side market to buy trail passes -- and a snack.  It looked like bread with fruit in it, but it tuned out to be candy, like gum drops maybe.  Oh, and re-filled my water bottle in the little mini-waterfall across the street.


The weather was a little dreary - cloudy and drizzly - on that side of the mountain, so there weren't many tourists around at the Emerald Pools parking lot. And no one to check our pass. Even better!

The hike was spectacular.  Just so amazing to hike through lush, green rainforests!  It never gets old!

But the hike was only like 10 minutes, and then we came around a bend in the trail to this paradise:

I can't get over it.  Still.  I mean, the pictures absolutely do not do it justice.  It was magical.  And I reserve the use of that word for...truly magical places!  It's my new favorite waterfall.

I tried out a new "Slow Shutter" app on my phone to get it to blur the water.  Didn't turn out to great because I need a tripod to hold the camera super still, but at least now I know how to do it. 


It was quiet in the forest, only the sound of a few birds and the rushing water.  The giant old tree to the left of the falls was gorgeous.  The clear turquoise water, the green land up above, the vines hanging down, the canyon that went back up behind...ooohhhh it was glorious.  I took about a hundred pictures of the exact same thing, just trying to capture how beautiful it was!

I could have stayed there the whole day and just took it all in, but it was already after 2pm and we hadn't eaten.  So we didn't stay there all that long.

Drove back to Roseau, dropped off one guy who didn't want to go to waterfalls three and four, and then kept driving up to Trafalgar Falls.  It was only a 15 minute drive from Roseau, and maybe a 5 minute hike up to the falls:  Father on the left and Mother on the right.


Hurricane Erica came through in January and I guess did a lot of damage to the river beds.  From the pictures in the magazine, there was much more of a lake/pool area below that you could jump in to.  But the rain and wind damage must have done away with that.

Either way, they were giant falls, a sight to see, and easy to get to.  Just nothing compared to Emerald Pools.

The poor driver was done by this point, and said, please don't stay long, I haven't eaten, haha!  So yeah, it was a super short stop.  Back in to town, where we got dropped off at the hotel again to use wifi and hopefully find some food.

Carnival was still in full force.  I don't know how they can all drink and dance and listen to that blaring music for so long!

The street food was mostly fried chicken and hot dogs on a stick.  Pass.  But there was a restaurant open that looked super touristy...but had normal food.  Done.

Veggie burger, for $11, and a smoothie for another $6.

And the kicker?  The "veggie burger" was quite literal.  It was some veggies warmed up and thrown on a bun!  This whole (semi) vegetarian thing is hard sometimes!

I really wanted to catch a local bus back to Sofriere from Roseau, because it's infinity times cheaper than a taxi.  Or it should be anyways.  And I was just too lazy and worn out to start walking and chance hitching a ride.  So I sat on a curb and waited...for 30 minutes until a bus finally came by for Sofriere! I guess everyone was coming TO Roseau...not away from it.

The driver charged 10EC for the ride, because its as Carnival and to his normal route.  It should have cost like 2EC.  That's some mark up!

First stop:  mini market to get more snacks!  I went through a significant amount of them today.  Oh, and the eating healthy thing has pretty much gone out the window in the past week.  Even more so in the past couple of days.  The supermarkets aren't open here and I haven't had a kitchen anyways.  So it's pretty much whatever you can buy at a road side stand or quick shop:  chips and cookies and crackers.  I'm going on a serious detox when I get home!

Watched the sun set from Bubble Beach again, and then walked back up to the tent.

I was a hot, sweaty mess, so went straight for the showers.  But I had a little company in the shower tonight.  In the form of a spider the size of the palm of my hand!  Let me tell you, turning you back and stepping close to that thing was not cool!


I spent much of the night on the computer trying to upload pictures and research more waterfalls for tomorrow.  There are so many, it's hard to choose!

The music started again at 8pm, but I was told the part officially ended at 10pm.  Here's hoping.  The sound of frogs and crickets is way better than drums...

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