Even in Dominica, the hype about December 21st and the hubbub of the approaching yule-tide were having less than desired effects on me. Fortunately, I had already decided that that particular Friday was a day to escape to “the country” (that is, away from Roseau, the capital!) if the world hadn’t ended by then.
I headed off to somewhat familiar territory, my destination being the wonderful Papillote Wilderness Retreat at Trafalgar in the Roseau Valley. I ‘d already booked my massage with physiotherapist Ariane Magloire and was looking forward to soaking in the hot pools after my session with her. As there was no cruise ship in port, I decided to go early and explore the very popular Trafalgar Falls eco-site, which can be very crowded when hundreds of people are on-island for a few hours.
It was a beautiful day in paradise and that is no exaggeration! Brilliant sunshine, nary a cloud in sight and slightly cooler temperatures were ideal conditions for my little hike from Papillote up the hill to the twin falls at Trafalgar. As I approached the Visitor Centre, I was completely surprised that there were no visitors or tour buses in sight. I spoke to the forestry officer and the attendant on duty and informed them of my plan to work my way up to what is called the “mother” fall which is more readily accessible than the “father” fall. We chatted for a few moments and then I headed off on the well marked and groomed trail to the viewing platform, about 15 minutes along the route.
A mountain whistler (rufus-throated solitaire) high up in the tree-tops cheerily accompanied me with its melodious trills. Antillean bull finches and peewees flitted about the lower limbs of the trees, capturing my attention now and then as I paused to look at pretty plants along the path. I marvelled at so many shades of green all about me in the dense forest. I could sense my breathing becoming deeper and more even as I steadily walked up a gradual incline. After about 10 minutes, I arrived at the sturdy wooden platform and gasped with delight at the sights before me.
To my left, the taller and slimmer “father” fall glistened in the shadowy sunlight. Its seemingly remote location added to the intrigue. I did recall a time many years ago when I did actually work my way over treacherous boulders and slippery stones (with the assistance of a guide). But a landslide changed all that and I was content with the memory of soaking a bruised leg under a man-made bamboo shower of natural hot mineral water. Now that area is off-limits to visitors.
My only choice was to head further along the track to the majestic and stately “mother” fall. I was happy to snap shots of the twin cascades from different angles as I followed the trail to the right. It had been many years since I ventured beyond the platform, mainly because there were always too many people on the trail for my tastes. Admittedly, I did meet three young men just as I left the viewing point. They were heading out and now I was completely alone!
The “mother” falls’ persistent roar drew me towards her base, over big rocks, a coursing stream of hot water and some huge tree roots. As I was on my own, I decided to stop a bit of a distance away from her as the boulders can be extremely slippery when wet. I realized that with no-one else around, personal safety was a priority. I sat on a damp boulder and gazed all around me. By now, after only 10 minutes beyond the view-point, sweat trickled down my back and my face was wet from the mild exertion. A damp mist from the cascade blew over me and I breathed deeply and slowly for some time. I stared at the tumbling waters as if in a trance, while recalling its pristine source higher in the mountains in Morne Trois Pitons National Park.
After a short while, I glanced at my watch and realized that it was time to make my way back to Papillote for my appointment. As I carefully turned myself around on the over-sized boulder, I cast a backward glance at the “mother.” Although I had only spent a short time near her torrents, I felt completely invigorated, re-energized and refreshed. Any stress that I had carried into this spectacular wilderness eco-site had quickly vanished. I was now ready to celebrate the holiday season in the best of spirits!
My few moments of solitude reminded me that nature is indeed a tonic for the mind, body and soul. I highly recommend it, and urge you to spend a little time in the great outdoors, as well as with family and friends this holiday season – where-ever you live. Peace and goodwill to all!