Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Dominica farewell

There are so many waterfalls and trails to see and hike here, but we knew we wanted to see Middleham Falls, which at 300 ft is the highest waterfall on the island. It's in the southern part of the island so we caught a bus to the capital, Roseau, a second bus from there toward the town of Laudat and asked the driver let us off at the trail head for the falls. Buses in Dominica are only a few dollars no matter where you go so travel is pretty affordable. Middleham Falls is about halfway along Segment 4 of the Waitukubuli trail but it's easily accessed from the road too.

Not too mysterious where the trail begins
The "you are here" sign is a little daunting
Like some of the other trails we took it was mostly vertical, with steps, roots, rocks and streams to climb up, over and through.

This is just one of the many smaller falls surrounding the steep walls at Middleham
In guidebooks and tourist info you see about Middleham Falls, it shows an beautiful high waterfall cascading gently into a lovely pool of water where you can swim and relax. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned (several times) in the previous blogs that it's been raining here a lot. Raining a lot. Here's a video of I took of Middleham Falls the day we were there.

We couldn't get anywhere near the falls. It was crashing into the pool, spraying the surrounding rocks and walls. It was incredible. Loud, powerful and really impressive. We climbed along the rocks away from the falls and through some streams... and then it started raining again. Tired of hiking in the rain, we made our way back out and caught a bus back to Portsmouth.

Martin (Providence) had given us directions to a few places not far from Portsmouth and one that turned out to be a favorite is also the closest... natural hot and cold pools that are only about a 20 minute walk from town, except for the first time we went. We took a wrong turn and hiked for over 4 hours before we found it. He said "turn left before the curve".... how were we to know he meant the second curve, not the first curve?! "It's magical!" Martin promised, "just magical!" He was right.

I took this photo of Skip in one of the cold pools, while I was standing in the hot pool. 
About 105 degrees.... perfect!
We were pretty happy here!
On the way to and from the hot pool
At the Saturday market the fishermen sell their catch if they don't take it around the island for sale. We lucked out this past weekend when they came back with lots of mahi. We had fish envy... but we also had some of this mahi for dinner for a few nights.

Before we left Dominica, we walked back to Fort Shirley to say goodbye to Earl, an older gentleman we'd befriended when we first arrived. Earl was born in Dominica but spent much of his life in England before moving back to the island and he now runs a little store by the fort. He tells great stories of visiting his family in England now and how he can't bear the cold. "I can't wait each time to return to Dominica where the weather suits my clothes!" he told us. 

When we visited Earl this time he was chatting with a man named John who works as a security guard at the fort. The season for visitors is pretty much over so they both had time to talk. John, like many other Dominicans who work regular jobs, is really a farmer at heart and spends all his extra time farming. He invited us up to see his farm the next day and we took him up on his offer. 

The directions to his farm were a little vague and we were hoping it wouldn't be a repeat of our search for the hot pool. "When you pass the pig pens, just call out my name and I'll hear you." Okay...

Well I'll be damned.... there were pig pens. With pigs!
John told us that at one time his mother lived on this land and there was one mango tree and a few coconut palms. Over the fifteen years since he bought the surrounding four acres he'd planted everything else. He walked us up the hill picking different fruits from trees for us to taste and whacking open coconuts for us to drink. 

John loaded us up with limes and mangos
The secret to getting coconuts from the tree is jabbing at them with the long bamboo pole you've stashed in the grass nearby.
When we told him we'd recently bought a machete, but hadn't brought it with us, John's eyes widened. "You didn't bring it with you?" he asked incredulously. "But, what if you meet with a fruit you want to eat?" Good point. From now on the machete comes with us.

He also showed us the source of a river. Though we've seen umpteen rivers here, we hadn't actually seen the source of any rivers. It's not much to look at, but the idea of it is pretty amazing. This water just springs from the ground. It's not rainwater so the amount that runs doesn't vary with the rainfall, it just comes out of the ground endlessly. 

John, never without his trusty machete.... stands by the river source
There it is.... the beginning of a river
Farmers here plant by the phases of the moon and the day we visited John on his farm was the day before the new moon and he had much to do. We didn't want to keep him from his planting so we said goodbye with a promise to visit again when we come back in the winter on our way south. 

We haven't had our fill of Dominica hiking trails but you may have by now, so I'll leave you with two last trail photos taken on Segment 11, which apparently has several segments of it's own (see previous blog) and on which we got sort of lost, and one last anole photo because I just can't get enough of these funny little lizards.

Steep steps
Overlooking Portsmouth and the Cabrits. Far in the distance (on the R) you can make out The Saints under the clouds

As we sail north from Dominica we're passing a lot of boats sailing south for hurricane season and we're missing all sailors we've met along the way who are headed south too. We'll see some of them again, but others are headed for the Pacific and if we see them again it won't be any time soon. 

So it's farewell to Dominica for now.... we're back in Guadeloupe and will spend a few days here waiting for the wind to become a little more southerly before we continue north.


Leslie said...

I have a sister who owns a machete?!

Oy vey.


Miles said...

A couple of really nice posts you guys. Hope we will see you sometime over the summer.

Madeline said...

Well of course I have a machete! What if I meet with a fruit I want to eat?

We hope to see everyone when we're back in the fall....

Cindy Barnard said...

I'm getting a machete...just in case.
I love, love, love, love the waterfall pictures. Waterfalls are so gorgeous.
And your lizard is "cuter than a bug's ear"as my friend Patsy would say.
I don't even want to talk about the hot and cold springs.

Janice said...

We definitely have to get back to Dominicia - you have done it so well and given us many more places to explore. I have to tell you that I also have a machete - it was a birthday present a couple of years ago from my loving husband - shouldn't everyone have one!!!
Safe travels north! hope the wind cooperates for you

Kim said...

Maddie - so beautiful! Aside from asking the obvious, how'd you get the photos of the two of you? Your timing is perfect. It does indeed sound like you've fallen in love with Dominica! Your posts, as always, are fun to read as well as beautifully photographed...xoxox

Anonymous said...

You two are so Beautiful together!!!! / jo and Martin