Saturday, January 31, 2009

Travels in Dominica, 2005 - Scott's Head

Mountains, Beaches and Oceans.
Yesterday the plan was to hike to the highest waterfalls in Dominica. The Europeans hired a guide, and asked me to come. I kept asking whether it was high, and if there much climbing. Of course the guide said ‘not high, very easy’, however based on past experience, I decided not to take a chance. I decided to go with them to the village of Laudat, where the trail started, and sit and paint.

We got to Laudat, after a hair raising trip via many switchbacks on a narrow road through the jungle. Only it really wasn't a village, but a scattering of huts housing about 200 souls. The bus would not return for four hours, so I there wasn't much else to do but to join the climb. The guide lied. Need I say more? It was not only straight up for 45 minutes, but we had to climb stair like logs, wade through streams, creep along precipices, and slog through the jungle mud, through the mountain mist and rain.

I was not a happy camper. I struggled valiantly, but my knee began to give out, my breathing faltered, and water poured out of my body in streams. We met park rangers, and they kindly cut me a walking stick Not thinking I would be hiking, I had left mine at the hotel. This enabled me to continue, but my tether reached its end when I discovered that to get to the water fall we had to go DOWN to a valley, which meant I would then have to go UP again to get out.

I told them to go ahead, sat down, wrote in my journal, and slowly, slowly, slowly made my way back along a trail that was steeper and more treacherous than I remembered. I was shaking by the time I reached to a point where I could stop and wait for them. And on the 30 min trek to the road, they were all busy planning the NEXT day's hike to Boiling Lake. I made plans to do something else.

The next day, after they left, I spent a leisurely morning finishing a sketch and then flagged down a bus to Scott's Head. It was a lovely drive south, passing interesting villages hanging on the mountainsides on one side of the highway, and perched on stilts hanging over the ocean on the other. Scott's Head is located on the southermost point of the island. The village is one of those bucolic picturesque fishing villages and I will definitely return. I walked down a long rocky spit, sat down with the Atlantic on one side of me, and the Caribbean on the other and painted all afternoon. There is a small beach, and decent snorkelling, although I wasn’t prepared to swim today. I ate lunch at a small waterside cafe, and headed back to the guesthouse for a shower.

The hikers returned and reported that Boiling Lake had stopped boiling. I had missed nothing. Tomorrow, I may accompany Marina up north to Portsmouth.

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