Sweet Meanderings Around Soufriere Dominica

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Soufriere Dominica is tucked into a valley which once formed part of an ancient volcanic crater.

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Soufriere is a very pretty and historic fishing village located in southwestern Dominica.

Although it’s been a while since I took a long hike on the Nature Isle, I am currently contented with little outings around Dominica.  Readers of Ti Domnik Tales will know by now that the possibilities of things to do are endless in this lovely little country.  For the past few weeks, I have been occupied with preparations for my overseas relocation to Canada, which is timely and necessary.  But every now and then, I take a break in order to immerse myself in the intriguing aspects of “nature, culture and adventure” that prevail in this beautiful tropical paradise.

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Scotts Head village and promontory as seen from the Soufriere look-off above Soufriere Bay.

 

 

 

On a Saturday afternoon not long ago,  I decided to take the short drive from my home to Soufriere, on the southwestern side of the island.  I hadn’t been there for a couple of years, and of course, I was curious to see how things had changed (or not) following Tropical Storm Erika last August.  This time, I did not travel down to the end of the main road, where the village of Scotts Head is located.  I did enjoy that journey a couple of years ago and you can read about it here.

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Soufriere is renowned for its historic seaside catholic church and is a prominent fishing village in Dominica.

 

 

This time, I decided to check out the Soufriere Sulphur Springs Eco-site, as I hadn’t been there for quite a few years.  First I parked at the main crossroads in the village and took a walk up the road to a popular view-point.  I gazed at the gorgeous southerly scene, which included tranquil seaside vistas of Soufriere Bay, the distant promontory at Scotts Head, and inland views of the steep hills that form part of an extinct volcanic crater.

DSCF7013I drove beyond the village down well-marked side roads and then entered the park where the famous and historic sulphur springs are located. I could immediately smell the pungent fumes

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The big pool at the Soufriere Sulphur Springs is a great place for a soothing soak.

emanating from the area, which is renowned for its sulphur deposits and hot  mineral springs, also indicative of the ancient volcanic terrain.  It was very hot and dry in this area, and I perspired profusely as I hiked a short distance uphill to

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A sulphur deposit at Soufriere Sulphur Springs Eco-Site

view the

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This once-flowing sulphuric river was completely dry – perhaps as result of TS Erika or maybe not!

mineral deposits.  I remarked to myself that the area did look somewhat different form my last visit there, as one of the strong streams was not presently flowing.  A few people were enjoying natural baths in small enclosed cabanas.Apart from the occasional bird call, all was quiet.  I caught an iguana having his midday

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This iguana was not bothered by my presence in his sleepy state.

nap on a tree.  While I stood very close to him to capture his essence on camera, he was not bothered in the least by my presence!  When I arrived at the large bathing pool, no one was in it at all.  It seemed somewhat eerie to me, as I recalled other times when one had to wait for a turn to enter the murky healing water, as it was filled with bathers.  Something didn’t seem quite right, but at that moment I didn’t know what it was.

 

DSCF7034I had already decided to take a sea/sulphur bath later, so I left the site and drove a short distance to another lovely locale that I had not visited for a few years:  Rodney’s Wellness Retreat. As luck would have it, I met a senior forestry officer, Jacqueline André as I walked down the little lane en route to this  attractive enterprise. We stopped and chatted for a few minutes and I shared my sense of something changed at the Soufriere Sulphur Springs Eco-Site with her. She then told me about the signficant damage that the site had sustained from Tropical Storm Erika, and that the entire park had been buried under several feet of mud!  She described the extensive clean-up process, and exclaimed that what had been done to restore the site was quite remarkable.  All of the pools had been submerged in silt, and the buildings located there had been damaged too.  Now I understood why it didn’t look exactly the same as I had remembered from a few years earlier!  .

I was very hungry by this time, and I welcomed the opportunity to have a meal in the open

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The open air restaurant at Rodney’s Wellness Retreat is set in a beautiful tropical garden.

air restaurant set in a pretty garden on the property.  On this lovely Saturday afternoon, I dined on Mahi-mahi, commonly known as Dolphin – but not the Flipper type!  Hummingbirds flitted to and fro amongst the colourful hibiscus flowers.  In this peaceful setting, with a fresh breeze blowing down from the steep hills, I further relaxed as I chatted with Bevin Lewis, one of the owners of this family run business. He encouraged me to take a garden stroll and to look at the newly built

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Sweet steel pan music is now a part of Rodney’s Wellness Retreat.

‘pan house’, where traditional steel pans would be housed to be teach students and entertain visitors and residents .

 

We also chatted about hiking, as Segments One and Two of the Waitukubuli National Trail are located in this area. Bevin informed me that a large landslide still exists on Segment One in the Morne Crabier area (March 2016).  He said he had had to rappel down the slope in that area, so hikers be forewarned!  I was so happy to have completed that segment when the trail was first opened.  I fell in love with the section of it known as the French Quarter, which is also part of an archeological dig as it was a inhabited by the French in the 18th century (not far from the village of Scotts Head).

DSCF7039Along one of the garden trails, I came upon an inviting hammock and was sorely tempted,but I felt there was too much else to see before taking a nap that day! As I wandered around the lushDSCF7033property, I became completely captivated with the concept of ‘caldera’, meaning large volcanic crater. I really gained a sense of being in a ‘bowl’ as I looked up at the verdant hills high above Soufriere.  And of course, I could see evidence of changes to the terrain DSCF7041resulting from landslides, thanks to TS Erika.  Thankfully, Rodney’s Wellness Retreat did not sustain damage from the devastating storm.

As the afternoon was wearing on, I had one more stop to make before heading home.  My reward for my very relaxing afternoon would be a dip and soak at the Bubble Beach Spa, seaside in front of St. Mark’s Catholic Church in the village of Soufriere.

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I enjoyed studying the sky above the Soufriere hills while I lounged in the Bubble Beach Spa.

 

 

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The hot pools at Bubble Beach Spa also offer a spectacular view. The promontory of Scotts Head is in the distance.

The angle of the sun was fairly low over the sea as I  first submerged myself  just outside of the stone enclosed hot water pools.  I bounced around in gentle waves in a shallow spot just offshore, and then walked over to warm up in the hot water, which results from sulphuric vents on the sea floor mixed with sea water.  I screeched when I stuck my big toe into one of the pools: it seemed to be boiling hot!  Then a young man who was in the same location but further away from shore informed me that the temperature was a little cooler in deeper water.  Bathers be warned!

 

I then submerged in another pool of more

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This young man was groovin’ to the disco tunes of the 70’s and 80’s, such as those from Saturday Night Fever. His enthusiasm  was definitely infectious!

moderate temperature.  I chatted with some of the other guests, and we even sang along to the oldie-goldies pumping out of the sound system at the beach bar on the premises.  Spirits were high and the scenery was out of sight!

 

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The bar at Bubble Beach Spa is cute and comfortable.  There is a change room too.

After the better part of an hour, I was sufficiently cooked and if I had stayed any longer I would have been overdone!  I thanked the proprietor and his wife for arranging this adorable spa, which also offers massages, drinks and food.  I was amazed that they only requested donations to help with upkeep of the beach and hot pools. I made my fair contribution and trust that everyone who visits this delightful spot would do the same.  It’s good karma, after all!

 

“Now that was an afternoon that needs to be repeated,” I said to myself as I drove off into

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There’s nothing like a Caribbean sunset to end a perfect day in paradise!

the sunset. And if you know what’s good for you, you’ll spend some time meandering around Soufriere Dominica as soon as you can!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Daytripping Along Dominica`s Eastern Shore: The Village of Castle Bruce and Environs

Gwendominica enjoys a little rest stop at the Emerald Pool in Dominica`s interior. It`s a popular site, with good reason, due to its natural beauty.

Gwendominica enjoys a little rest stop at the Emerald Pool in Dominica`s interior. It`s a popular site, with good reason, due to its natural beauty.

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The Emerald Pool features a variety of pretty green hues.

Whenever I spend a little time at Beau Rive in the Castle Bruce area on Dominica`s east coast, I always make a stop at the Emerald Pool   on my way there. It`s an easy 20 minute loop trail and the waterfall is found about halfway along the path.  Although only 20 minutes from my destination, I enjoy stretching my legs and breathing in the pure air in this rainforest setting.

The view from a look-off on the east side of the Emerald Pool trail includes the mighty Atlantic in the distance.

The view from a look-off on the east side of the Emerald Pool trail includes the mighty Atlantic in the distance.

Segment 5 of the Waitukubuli National Trail passes near the Emerald Pool.  It begins at Pond Casse in the middle of the island and ends at Castle Bruce.

Segment 5 of the Waitukubuli National Trail passes near the Emerald Pool. It begins at Pond Casse in the middle of the island and ends at Castle Bruce (about 13 kms).

I had a little refreshment  at the on-site snack bar and  then I was on the road again. But not for long.  It was early afternoon by the time I arrived on the east coast and I`d worked up an appetite from my little outing in the forest. I headed straight to Islet View Restaurant, run by a Canadian-Dominican named Rudy.  He can really cook up a storm and this time was no different, confirmed by the fact that every seat in the dining room was filled with visitors, mainly from the neighbouring

Gwendominica is glistening and glowing from her Emerald Pool work-out.  She refreshes herself with a big glass of golden apple juice - the local variety of course!

Gwendominica  glistened and glowed from her Emerald Pool work-out. She refreshed herself at Islet View Restaurant with golden apple juice – the local variety of course!

French islands. They were in Dominica to enjoy the 18th annual World Creole Music Festival.  I found a little space at a back table where I enjoyed my overflowing plate of Mahi-mahi fish, ground provisions, stewed beans, rice and  green salad. I ate as much of it as I could.

I always enjoy the view of the islets of Castle Bruce from the restaurant of the same name!

I always enjoy the view of the islets of Castle Bruce from the restaurant of the same name!

The Castle Bruce beach beckoned me for a beach walk.  I did so the next day!

The Castle Bruce beach beckoned me for a beach walk. I did so the next day!

I felt it was enough for two people, and I was also holding back. I was well aware that I would receive another large meal at Beau Rive a few hours later.

The next morning, I set off from my quaint east coast home base to explore the village of Castle Bruce and its expansive beach.  The pretty little hamlet is situated near to the ocean.  Although there was no storm that day, the persistent surf made its presence known, whether one was at sea level or higher up the steep slope of this compact residential area. I admired the church and its serene setting and then drove along the road that skirted the ocean.

Villagers take pride in their beautiful beach and they respectfully request that you do the same!

Villagers take pride in their beautiful beach and they respectfully request that you do the same!

The Sea Breeze Inn as seen from Castle Bruce Beach.

The Sea Breeze Inn as seen from Castle Bruce Beach.

The pretty Catholic church is situated a short distance from the ocean in Castle Bruce.

The pretty Catholic church is situated a short distance from the ocean in Castle Bruce.

I stopped when I came upon a bright blue building set against the beach.  It was in fact a little hotel, called the Sea Breeze Inn and I was on time for a late morning snack!  But first, I took a leisurely stroll along the long stretch of sand.  Storm clouds were moving in, and I walked as quickly as I could to its far end, where I came upon the mouth of the Castle Bruce River.  There, I saw a man with a fishing net. I assumed he knew where he would make a catch. I waved at him and hastened back to the inn for my treat. Before I reached

The mouth of the Castle Bruce River offers shallow pools for wading and fishing.

The mouth of the Castle Bruce River offers shallow pools for wading and fishing.

the entrance way, a squall caught me off-guard.My umbrella was no help in the stiff breeze and driving rain.  Although a little damp, I dried off in no time, as it was actually a very warm day. Ms. Lockhart, the proprietor served me the freshest guava juice, along with a tuna bake and a special surprise: her homemade pumpkin fritters.

Fresh guava fruit juice, a tuna-stuffed bake (deep fried bread) and sweet spicy pumpkin fritters (bottom) sustained me for several hours.

Fresh guava fruit juice, a tuna-stuffed bake (deep-fried bread) and sweet spicy pumpkin fritters (bottom) sustained me for several hours.

This delicious local snack quelled my hunger pangs so that I was ready for the next part of the day`s adventure: a southerly drive along the coast to the well-known historic fishing village of San Sauveur.

As I drove along the steep and winding road, it was difficult to admire the gorgeous views of Grand Marigot Bay

and the surrounding quaint villages high above the ocean.  Therefore,

Grand Marigot Bay below with the village of Good Hope perched on the steep slope!

Grand Marigot Bay below with the village of Good Hope perched on the steep slope!

when I reached the hamlet of Good Hope, a friendly lady named Rachelle directed me to a safe parking spot so I could walk and admire the sights  instead.  I switched from sandals to walking shoes and headed `down`to the coastline. After 20 minutes, I stood in front of the historic Catholic church in San Sauveur.

The San Sauveur Catholic Church

The  sturdily built San Sauveur Catholic Church at sea level  has stood the test of time against the elements.

Despite hurricanes and occasional strong storms, it  offers regular worship services to faithful followers in this somewhat remote area.

I continued along behind the church for a few minutes until I came upon a number of fishing boats at their moorings.

Fishing boats rest quietly on the moorings at San Sauveur on a Saturday afternoon.

Fishing boats rested quietly on their moorings at San Sauveur on a Saturday afternoon.

A few had been out and had come in a short time earlier.  The fishermen rushed over to me to enquire about my interest in a purchase of fish.  I of course declined as I was being served meals at Beau Rive, which included such fare.  They were disappointed as it was a quiet afternoon.  As I turned to go, they asked where I had parked my vehicle.  When I replied that I had walked down from the neighbouring village of Good Hope, they were collectively shocked!

Outside of the breakwater fro the boats, the surf at San Sauveur was very strong that Saturday afternoon.

Outside of the breakwater for the boats, the surf at San Sauveur was very strong that Saturday afternoon.

As I commenced the steep ascent, I was glad that I had carried my umbrella, not for protection against rain though.  It was early afternoon and strong sunshine prevailed high above me. I didn`t mind the sweat and distracted myself with all the breathtaking vistas below me. After a short while, I was back in Good Hope.  The villagers who had watched me leave were surprised that I had been able to do the trek so quickly!  I proudly proclaimed that I had hiked over large parts of Dominica and was now getting back in shape after my bout of Chikungunya.  I purchased a cold bottle of spring water from  a tiny snackette and returned to the car.  After this lovely outing, I headed back to Beau Rive on the quiet road.  About half an hour later, I was sitting on my porch chair, looking forward to dinner and contemplating the routes for my excursions over the next couple of days.

You`ll read about  my visits to Pagua Bay, Richmond Bay and Rosalie Bay in the next post!