As I recovered from chikungunya and reflected on the loss of my little cat, Tia, I felt that a weekend away from my home might be a boost to body, mind and soul. It had been a long time (six years!) since I ventured over to the central east coast of Dominica and I could not wait a moment longer. When Mark Steele, proprietor of Beau Rive, a lovely boutique hotel near Castle Bruce replied to my query about room availability with an affirmative, I unhesitatingly booked it right away. I had stayed there a few times in previous years, so I already knew that I would highly enjoy my short stay there.
I headed out on a showery Saturday morning with some trepidation. I knew that I would meet more rain as I passed through the mountainous interior of the island and I was
anxious about road and weather conditions. But the little voice in my head urged me on. While it was little scary and almost as dark as night at midday when I passed in the shadow of majestic Morne Trois Pitons, I took my time and carefully maneuvered around occasional potholes.
There was hardly any traffic on the road and 45 minutes after my departure , I arrived at the Emerald Pool Eco-Site. By then, it was pouring, but I felt in need of a little outdoor ‘refreshment’. Besides, it was an easy walk on a well-maintained track to this famous waterfall and I carried my umbrella.
Although my joints reminded me that I was not ready for any big hike, I strode carefully and sometimes gingerly through the dripping rainforest to check out this popular cascade. I kept my head down as I sheltered under my umbrella. After a few minutes, I heard the distinctive roar of a powerful torrent of water.
Within 10 minutes, I glimpsed the beauty of the small but enchanting Emerald Pool. Although the rain persisted, I felt invigorated in the fresh, pure mountain air. And there was not a soul in sight! It was the perfect day to take in this little gem of the Nature Island. During the cruise ship season, this eco-site is a frequented attraction. Over the years. I have only been here once with a crowd – and numerous other times on my own, with my brother, a few friends or a handful of visitors. In those days-gone-by, I would even take a dip in the refreshing waters – but not today! I’ve long acclimatised to the tropical climate and as a result, Dominica’s mountainous interior is too cold for me, unless I am on the move!
As I approached a view-point close to the waterfall, I was thankful for a handrail and constructed steps. Normally, I would not have given rough terrain a second thought, but living with the arthritic after-effects of chikungunya has given me greater respect for accessibility issues. I did have my hiking pole with me as usual, which gave me extra support with occasional balance challenges (vertigo) since the mosquito-borne virus became part of my life.
By just gazing at the lovely work of nature, all alone in the rainforest and listening to its persistent, but gentle roar, I felt just “that much” better than I had the day before. As I hobbled towards the exit from the site, I took the time to look in an easterly direction towards the
Atlantic where I was heading. It seemed to me, that despite the pouring rain in my location, it was clearing on the coast.
I arrived in the parking lot a few minutes later and could feel hunger pangs returning that had been absent during my illness. I was ahead of check-in time at Beau Rive so I decided to revisit an old favorite haunt for lunch, which overlooks the Castle Bruce Bay. In only 15 minutes, I was there – at Islet View Restaurant where proprietor and chef ‘Rudy’, a Dominican-Canadian was in the house.
I’ve always enjoyed his home-cooked meals in the past, and this time was no different.
After reacquainting and reminding him of our Canadian connection, Rudy went in to the kitchen to prepare a fish lunch that would sustain me until dinner later at Beau Rive. I enjoyed sipping on sweetsop juice – not commonly served in restaurants and I really appreciated this treat.
The lovely view of the islets, the quaint village of Castle Bruce and its bay and beach distracted me from what ailed me. I was
quite amazed at how easily my spirits soared with such inspiring natural beauty before me. Before much time had passed,
Rudy appeared with a gigantic plate of food that caused me to worry and wonder (for a moment): `How will I eat dinner later!`
I did pretty well by all accounts – but I had to leave some on my plate. It was impossible to eat it all as I had not been able to consume any large meals during my illness. I was encouraged by the return of my appetite!
Dessert was declined this
time, but I did have a chance to ask Rudy about his extensive `bush rum`collection. This simply means that various local herbs, purported to have medicinal properties for various ailments are `steeped`in a potent cask rum so that the ingredients are infused in the alcohol. I was quite amazed by his knowledge of the various remedies“ that could be imbibed for longevity, virility and vitality, just to name a few common health concerns. I was his first `case`of chikungunya. Alcohol was out of the question, but he did take me to the roadside where he pulled out some lemon grass and advised me to steep it in hot water and then drink it as a `tea`.
As typical Canadians, we discussed a range of topics, including the weather but NOT Rob Ford, Toronto`s infamous mayor (sorry! 😉 ). When I glanced at my watch, I saw that it was already almost 3 p.m.. Time to check in at Beau Rive and take a nap before dinner!
I wished Rudy a safe visit up north and promised to return for another wholesome meal when we both were back on-island!
My healing weekend was off to a great start, and I`d only been on the east coast for a few hours. There was much more goodness to come!