Some serene Sunday afternoons in Dominica call for a ‘lime’, a West Indian expression for hanging out, and of course, having fun! An easy 15-20 minute drive up the Roseau Valley from the capital city is a small price to pay for a few hours of pristine air, spectacular views, easy mountain strolls, a good meal and a rejuvenating soak in natural mineral waters.
One beautiful sojourn took place near the twin Trafalgar Falls (Father (left) and Mother (right)). It was in fact Easter Sunday, and although there were no cruise shippers at this popular eco-site that day, some groups and families took the pleasant stroll to the viewing platform, while others ventured a little further along a trail towards the Mother Fall on the right. A hot pool along the river below the cascade attracted one group; some French tourists carefully crawled over slippery stones as they ventured towards the cold pool beneath the torrent; other young people wandered further down river over huge boulders to see what they could find. Jenny and I contented ourselves with a little scramble over those gigantic rocks to get a good look at the gorgeous scene all around us. Then we plopped down in a sunny spot where we could gorge on the spectacular view of both waterfalls from our seated positions. Blue skies and brilliant sunshine added to the enjoyment of this easy jaunt on an idyllic day. A feeling of relaxation and calm quickly overcame me as I meditated on an abundance of greens and blues and listened to rushing waters from the powerful torrents behind me.
At the same time, hunger pangs set in so we leisurely walked back down the well-maintained trail, and after about 15 minutes arrived at our next destination: Papillote Wilderness Retreat (448-2287) one of my favourite places on the Nature Island. There, we planned to dine, walk through the garden, have tea with the hotel’s proprietor, Anne Jno Baptiste, and possibly soak in a hot water mineral pool before the sun set!
As usual, I ordered the delectable flying fish platter and Jenny chose it as well. She was curious to see and savour this meal that I have chosen on most visits to this tranquil setting. When the appealing plates arrived a short while later, we wasted no time in’ inhaling’ the sumptuous repast. Since our stomachs were soon filled, we delayed dessert in anticipation of our tea time with Anne. A leisurely stroll around the spectacular 4 acre tropical garden and a casual browse of beautiful hand-crafted items and local books in the gift nook segued into our prearranged rendez-vous. When we wandered in to the dining room, the lively and lovely octogenarian was already there waiting for us! I introduced Jenny to Anne and then we ordered sweets with our herbal tea. The delicious mango cobbler with coconut ice cream somehow found a space inside of me. I am just not sure where!
On this gorgeous late afternoon, Anne regaled us with some stories of ‘days-gone-by’ in Dominica. She’s been living on the Nature Island since 1961 (!) and undoubtedly has seen a lot of change – including the birth of this independent nation in 1978! I am in awe of her exceptional knowledge about plants, people and places from all the days she has lived in this paradise. This multiple-award-winning eco-hotel is a testament to her visionary talents, ecological beliefs and love of life! It is an honour to know her.
As shadows shifted and lengthened while we gazed down the Roseau Valley, we left Anne to her early dinner and donned our bathing suits for a quick soak in a nearby hot pool. Dusk softened the brilliant shades of green all around us, and as we luxuriated in the warm mineral waters, hummingbirds flitted to and fro, searching for one last sip of nectar before dark. After about 20 minutes, with most of the tensions of the past week melted away, we left the pool and bade good-by to our hostess Anne and her gracious staff. It was the first time I had ever stayed that late in the mountains, and as we drove down to Roseau as darkness fell, I decided that I must experience that magical time of day at Papillote again – very soon!
Of course, every day is different – no matter where we live. The following Sunday, the weather was more unsettled. But after a challenging week, I felt that another little ‘lime’ might be just what the doctor ordered. I picked up Jenny along the way and we returned to the Roseau Valley – but this time to the village of Wotten Waven, in close proximity to Trafalgar and Papillote – in fact, only a short walk away!
When we arrived at Tia’s Bamboo Cottages and Sulphur Pools (448-1998;225-4823) around 2 p.m, we discovered that the establishment would not be open until 3 p.m., being Sunday. Despite some
moderate rain showers, we armed ourselves with umbrellas and I took Jenny down the Wotten Waven – Trafalgar link road. This maintained through-way was
historically a quick connector between the two villages, and continues nowadays with easy access for vehicles. It proves very useful when there is a severe storm and one of the feeder roads to Roseau is blocked with a landslide. Admittedly, this road can also be cut-off when heavy rains cause the Roseau River to rise from nearby Trafalgar Falls and one cannot pass over the bridge!
Despite the dampness, we moved along in comfortable temperatures, soaking our shoes and shirts without any sweat from exertion. The air was fresh and sweet and I breathed deeply and slowly between conversations. I could feel stress pouring out of my pores, instantly washing away in the rain. The entire trek took us just under an hour, and by the time we returned to the car, Tia, the owner of the self-named hot spa was ready to let us in. I was starting to feel chilled from the cool, wet walk and I welcomed the respite in the soothing pool, situated beneath a beautifully tended tropical garden.
Amazingly, just as we entered this sulphur bath, the sun came out! I warmed up quickly, but we were not ready to leave in a hurry. After a leisurely hour in this pleasing locale, we changed into dry clothes and stopped in to the restaurant for tea and fruit cake. While people continued to arrive to enjoy the late afternoon in this healing setting, Jenny and I contented ourselves with the little treat and the lovely view of Tia’s property that leads to the lower sulphur pools.
As darkness made its presence known in the Roseau Valley, I easily drove back to Roseau on the Wotten Waven Road and dropped Jenny at her place about 15 minutes later.
When I arrived at my home, it was all I could do to stay awake until 8 p.m. I felt sleepy, relaxed and so thankful to live on the beautiful Nature Island, with its abundance of restorative offerings and sweet ‘limes’.