What better way to start the New Year in Dominica than to take day trip up the Roseau Valley to spend some time with friends at Papillote Wilderness Retreat. It seemed incredible that I had not been back to one of my
favourite places on Dominica since April 2015! Of course, Tropical Storm Erika had something to do with my delay, as I was reluctant to venture into areas where her heavy rains had altered infrastructure and terrain. Thankfully, four months after this significant weather event, the road was passable, with only a couple of tricky spots, and the countryside looked as lovely as ever.
January 1, 2016 was a fine day for this outing, and I started out well ahead of my lunchtime rendez-vous to check out the changes to the twin Trafalgar Falls. These cascades are only a short distance from this award-winning eco-lodge, and I was more than curious to observe the ‘new’ landscape that was created by the intense and prolonged rainfall of August 27, 2015.
After I announced my presence to the friendly staff at Papillote, I headed up the steep hill to the eco-site, and sauntered along the groomed trail for about 10 minutes before catching my breath – not from being winded from slight exertion, but from the dramatic scene that greeted me at the sheltered viewing platform.
I had been told that one could only fully ‘appreciate’ the extent to which TS Erika ravaged the Nature Island after having seen it first-hand. Now, I could completely comprehend that sentiment. Before me, a very changed landscape helped me to understand the power and the force behind such a catastrophic weather event.
Unfortunately, I was not able to walk towards the Mother Fall as before because the walkway and track had been destroyed by the excessive torrents. However, I did step just beyond the cautionary sign to take a few photos of the unfamiliar surroundings below the cascades. As the flow of the water was ever strong, the two waterfalls were as always, awesome and awe-inspiring. I recalled the most basic life lesson on this lovely New Year’s Day in Dominica, that NOTHING stays the same. Life is always changing, and Mother Nature is definitely in control.
At the same time, I was reminded of how human beings have negatively affected the planet with pollution and
overall thoughtlessness about our precious environment. On Dominica, climate change is increasingly apparent, and the heavy prolonged rainfall produced by
Tropical Storm Erika which resulted in extensive flooding and destructive landslides is only one example in one country of the harm we have done to our dear earthly home.
When I faced these natural wonders in mindful meditation for about half an hour, I resolved to be ever-conscious on a daily basis of how I can help to protect our precious environment every day in every way possible as an individual. Will you join with me in enacting this New Year’s resolution? Please give it some serious thought!
Under light rainfall, typical of this rainforest setting, I returned to Papillote about 15 minutes later. There, I joined longtime friends Anne Jno Baptiste, who is the proprietor of this beautiful eco-hotel, and Nancy Osler, who is the managing director of ATREC, an international research and educational learning center based at Springfield for a delicious lunch in the airy dining room. We caught up on year-end news and toasted the New Year, with the collective hope that it would be a good one.
In this relaxing setting, I further unwound later that afternoon with a luxurious soak in a natural hot water pool. As I gazed in ceaseless wonder at the sensational splendour all around me, I could only wish for a better year than the one before and dream of playing my part to make it a reality.
Happy New Year to one and all! Pray for peace and protect our precious planet.