Roseau Valley ‘Limes’: Time Well Spent in Dominica’s Countryside!

The Trafalgar Falls in Dominica's Roseau Valley epitomizes the essence of the Nature Island.

The Trafalgar Falls in Dominica’s Roseau Valley epitomize the essence of the Nature Island.

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.

Jenny enjoyed a Sunday afternoon 'lime' at the base of Trafalgar Falls!

Jenny enjoyed a Sunday afternoon ‘lime’ at the base of Trafalgar Falls!

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.

The father waterfall at Trafalgar is distant and inaccessible but easily admired from a number of vantage points.

The father waterfall at Trafalgar is distant and inaccessible but easily admired from a number of vantage points.

The mother waterfall at Trafalgar can be approached and experienced if one is careful on slippery rocks and mindful of her power!

The Mother waterfall at Trafalgar can be approached and experienced if one is careful on slippery rocks and mindful of her power!

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!

The flying fish platter at Papillote Wilderness Retreat is an all-time favourite dinner choice of mine on the Nature Isle.

The flying fish platter at Papillote Wilderness Retreat is an all-time favourite dinner choice of mine on the Nature Isle. It includes dasheen puffs, a hearty salad and  a tasty Creole sauce over the delicately prepared seafood. Rice is also an option, not pictured here.

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!

Anturiums are my favourite flower on Dominica.  Fascinating varieties grow in the garden at Papillote.

Anthurium lilies are my favourite flower on Dominica. Fascinating varieties grow in the garden at Papillote.

It's easy to enter the garden at Papillote directly from the dining room.

It’s easy to enter the garden at Papillote directly from the dining room.

This enchanting hot pool is only a few steps from the dining room at Papillote and is completely surrounded by nature.

This enchanting hot pool is only a few steps from the dining room at Papillote and is surrounded by nature.

Anne Jno Baptiste is the founder and proprietor of Papillote Wilderness Retreat, a multiple award-winning hotel.

Anne Jno Baptiste is the founder and proprietor of Papillote Wilderness Retreat, a multiple award-winning intimate eco-hotel.

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!

At the junction of the Link Road with the Trafalgar Road, one can see the Father of the  twin Trafalgar Falls in the distance.  See if you can spot it just beneath the low cloud!

At the junction of the Link Road with the Trafalgar Road, the Father of the twin Trafalgar Falls is apparent in the distance. See if you can spot it just beneath the low cloud!

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

The Wotten Waven Trafalgar Link Road is a lovely walk (with its hills and valleys) in any weather!

The Wotten Waven – Trafalgar Link Road is a lovely walk (with its hills and valleys) in any weather!

moderate rain showers, we armed ourselves with umbrellas and I took Jenny down the Wotten Waven – Trafalgar link road.  This maintained through-way was

Jenny gazes in the direction of the Mother of the twin Trafalgar Falls in the area where the river can flood or damage this bridge in a major storm!

Jenny gazes in the direction of the Mother of the twin Trafalgar Falls from the bridge where the river can overflow or  cause damage in a major storm!

DSCF4716

This puff of steam emanates from a fumerole in a rivulet, as seen along the Wotten Waven – Trafalgar Link Road.

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!

DSCF5237Despite 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 DSCF4733stress 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.

Jenny experiences the warm sulphur pool at Tia's for the first time.

Jenny experiences the warm sulphur pool at Tia’s for the first time. A natural hot water shower is in the background.

The quaint dining room at Tia's Sulphur Spa perfectly complements the pretty surroundings.

The quaint dining room at Tia’s Sulphur Spa perfectly complements the verdant surroundings.

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’.

 

 

 

‘Paradise Found’ in Dominica’s Papillote Tropical Gardens*

I was well in to Dominica’s 35th Independence celebrations when I decided that a morning away from the city would recharge my batteries and reconnect me with the healing wonders of the rainforest. My destination was another of my all time Nature Island favourites: Papillote Wilderness Retreat.  My foray was two-fold, in fact:  I had an appointment with German-trained physiotherapist Ariane Magloire and then I also wished to wander through the substantial four-acre tropical garden on the property.  The owner, Anne Jno Baptiste had recently upgraded the trails throughout the site and I was eager to check them out.

When I drove up the Roseau Valley and  arrived at Papillote (pronounced PAP-ee-yot) at  8:30 a.m., I realized that I even had enough time to revisit one of Dominica’s nearby magnificent wonders, the twin Trafalgar Falls. From the hotel, I walked up the steep ‘hill’ to the eco-site entrance in the pouring rain, without a soul in sight.  As I greeted the lone attendant at the Information Centre, she informed me that there would be no cruise ship in port that Friday, and at that time, no other visitors had arrived.  I had the place to myself!

As I trekked up the well-groomed trail, I was soaked to the skin and a little chilly .After about 15 minutes, I quickly forgot about my  mild discomfort as I stepped onto the sheltered viewing

The twin falls at Trafalgar are an incredible site to behold: the 'Father' is on the left and the 'Mother' is on the right.

The twin falls at Trafalgar are an incredible sight to behold, even in the rain! The ‘Father’ is on the left and the ‘Mother’ is on the right.

platform.  Before me was the most incredible portrait of nature: the twin Trafalgar Falls – two powerfully cascading torrents of clean water tumbling down the mountainside.  I lingered for a while and took photos through the mist as I inhaled the purest air found anywhere.  My dull headache immediately lifted and my spirits soared at this pristine place, which was all mine at that moment.  What a fabulous way to begin that restorative day!

I slowly walked away from this incredible view, and realized that I would have to return on a drier day to approach the Mother Fall (on the right) as the rocks beneath it would have been treacherous in very wet conditions.  After I informed the attendant of my safe return, I wandered back down the road to continue my stroll around the gardens at Papillote.

I still had some time before my ‘massage’ with Ariane, so I grabbed my camera and umbrella and headed  down some steps beside the dining room and directly entered into’ the garden’.  Despite the persistent inclement weather, it was obvious that all the plants were thriving in these highly humid conditions.  I forgot about my shivers as my gaze moved from one plant to the next.  Although I was not  able to readily identify all of them by name, I reveled in this appreciation for some of ‘God’s work’, enhanced with a little TLC from Anne!

Since the late 1960’s, Anne, the director of this establishment has toiled away at this ‘labour of love’ for the benefit of everyone.  Her efforts epitomize the Nature Island,  as she has assembled and tended an immense and diverse range of tropical plants in a protected area.  There are hundreds, some of which are endangered, rare, endemic to Dominica, indigenous to the Caribbean region or exotic transplants from other parts of the world.  You can find out more about this  amazing endeavor by clicking on the Papillote Tropical Gardens website.

It is easy to wander through Papillote's 4-acre garden on well constructed paths.

It is easy to wander through Papillote’s 4-acre garden on well constructed paths.

While I have no ‘green thumb’, I certainly acknowledge and pay tribute to her 45-year-old project, to date.  As I roamed and admired the ‘fruits’ of her labours,  I was now able to cover the terrain more quickly than before.  Anne had recently improved the walking trails on the premises, which will allow for easier meanders for people of any age or ability.  There are also plenty of tables, chairs  and benches scattered at scenic locations all over the property, which allow nature and garden enthusiasts plentiful opportunities to ‘smell the flowers’ and enjoy the views!

Here are some of the natural botanicals that I have had the pleasure to see at Papillote Tropical Gardens:

At the bottom of Papillote's Gardens, a lovely waterfall froms a backdrop for a hot and a cold mineral pool.

At the bottom of Papillote’s Gardens, a lovely waterfall forms a backdrop for both  a hot and a cold mineral pool.

This pretty flower is called  Solanaceae Brugmansia, commonly known as Angel's Trumpet.

This pretty flower is called Solanaceae Brugmansia, commonly known as Angel’s Trumpet.

This pretty flower is a bromeliad called, a Tillandsia cyanea

This dainty plant is a bromeliad called Tillandsia cyanea. It is contained in a pot on table with chairs in the middle of the Gardens!

This plant  is in the ginger family and is a costus barbata.

This plant is in the ginger family and is named costus barbata.

The long strappy leaves are Bromeliad and the leaves below are Taccaceae Tacca chantrieri (black bat flower)

The long strappy leaves are Bromeliad and the leaves below are Taccaceae Tacca chantrieri (black bat flower).

This is a beautiful  begonia.  I remember when my mother used to grow them in pots - although they never got that big!

This is a beautiful begonia. I remember when my mother used to grow them in pots – although they never got that big!

This colourful flower is a hybrid  bromeliad (an aechmea.

This colourful flower is a hybrid bromeliad (an aechmea).

'Forbidden fruits' in the Gardens of Papillote!

This uncommon edible fruit  is called a naranjilla.  It is part of the solanaceae family, which includes peppers,  potatoes and  tomatoes

Frances holds a bunch of dandelion leaves from the Papillote Garden.They can be made into a tea ti help detoxify the body.

Frances holds a bunch of dandelion leaves from the eclectic Papillote Garden.They can be made into a tea to help detoxify the body.

My time was getting a little short before my physiotherapy, so I headed back to the dining room to pick up my backpack and walk up to the  sheltered Birdwatchers’ Hut, where Ariane and her massage table are situated.  En route, I met up with Frances, one of the wonderfully warm  and friendly staff at Papillote.   She was picking a plant near the dining room and I asked her about it.  “Those are dandelion leaves,” she told me, ” They are helpful for cleansing the body of toxins.’  I was intrigued, because although the plant looked different from the North American variety, it has the same function!  It is well-known that thousands of medicinal plants are found on Dominica.  The elders swear by their effectiveness – perhaps more of the younger people should consider taking  their sage advice to complement conventional treatments!

I hadn’t seen Ariane for a while and my session was long overdue!  She manipulated tight tendons and

Ariane Magloire is a German-trained physiotherapist who is available for treatment sessions most Friday mornings at Papillote by advance reservation.

Ariane Magloire is a German-trained physiotherapist who has a very busy practice, but is available for treatment sessions most Friday mornings at Papillote by advance reservation –  (767) 448-2287.

massaged muscle spasms in my  upper back and neck that were causing persistent headaches.  Then she worked on areas of my body where toxins were most likely trapped and she gave my overworked feet a good rub-down too!  She doesn’t know this as I write, but I felt very relaxed and calm and pain-free after one hour on her table.

This is called the iguana pool because the hot water flows through the mouth of a sculpture resembling that large lizard.

This is called the Iguana Pool because the hot water flows through the mouth of a sculpture resembling that large lizard.

In fact, when I dipped into the ‘Iguana’ hot mineral pool immediately afterwards, I propped myself on one side and almost fell asleep.  For me, that state of relaxation is all-too-rare.  Thank you Ariane for a super massage session!!!

I was so content to just lie there in the pool as the rain pattered on the leaves, the wind gently whooshed through the gardens and birds chirped high in the tree-tops.  As for the vistas –

From the vantage points of any of the four hot mineral pools on the premises, there is garden and froest all about - a true wilderness experience without having to do a back-country trek!

From the vantage points of any of the four hot mineral pools on the premises, there is garden and forest all about – a true wilderness experience without having to do a strenuous  back-country trek!

I sheltered while I soaked in this covered pool which is only a few steps from Ariane's massage table in the Birdwatchers' Hut.

I sheltered while I soaked in this covered pool which is only a few steps from Ariane’s massage table in the Birdwatchers’ Hut.

well I hope the photos give you an idea of this particular paradise!

An hour or so later, I was well ‘pruned’ and hunger pangs were setting in.  After changing into dry clothes, I sauntered down  the steps  to the dining room where I  ordered my favourite meal at Papillote:  the Flying Fish Platter, accompanied by my second glass of spiced sorrel juice.  As I sipped on the refreshing beverage, I glanced into the garden area that was very close to my indoor table.  All of a sudden, I was startled out of my reveries: a hummingbird was plopped on a fern in a very awkward-looking position. It looked as if it were dead!

This Purp;e Throated carib hummingbird looks as if it is bent in the wrong direction.  It is actually taking in some sun on its breast!

This Purple Throated Carib hummingbird looks as if its head is bent in the wrong direction. It is actually taking in some sun on its breast!

That same little hummingbird (I think) is contently perched on a branch.

That same little hummingbird (I think) is contentedly perched on a branch.

I thought that it had hit something and had broken its neck.  It did not move for a long  few moments and I feared the worst.  Just as quickly, it reversed its  head position, flitted its tiny wings and was off.  Shortly afterwards, I saw it perched in a nearby tree.  When I mentioned this to Anne, she suspected that it was likely a juvenile with its’ home’  nearby and that it was having a ‘sun bath’!  I was astonished that it felt so safe and comfortable within close proximity to human activities.  Obviously, the food sources were plentiful for that Purple-Throated Carib, one of four species of hummingbirds that are found in Dominica.  Anne tells me that all four types are often  seen in the Gardens.

I always enjoy the Creole-inspired Flying Fish Platter at Papillote. The fish is covered in a flavourful onion-tomato Creole sauce, the hearty natural and organic salad and the 'puffs' are made from dasheen, a local ground provision vegetable.

I always enjoy the Creole-inspired Flying Fish Platter at Papillote. The fish is covered in a flavourful onion-tomato Creole sauce, the hearty local salad  is topped with shredded beets and the ‘puffs’ are made from dasheen, a local ground provision vegetable.

It looks look like a vase of violets to me but Anne informed me that the lighter lavender are cuphea hyssopifolia and the darker purple are ground orchids..spathoglottis unguiculata

It looked like a vase of violets to me but Anne informed me that the lighter lavender  flowers are cuphea hyssopifolia and the darker purple are ground orchids-spathoglottis unguiculata.  My sorrel juice never stays long in the glass!

Once my lunch was served, I concentrated on savoring every morsel.  I ate everything on the plate, and then felt even more drowsy.  If I didn’t leave soon, I would have to ask for a bed!  I paid my reasonable bill and departed, with a promise that I would be back by Christmas.  Now that’s a plan that I wish to realize above most others!

Proprietor Anne Jno Baptiste was awarded an honorary membership in the Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association in November 2014.. Papillote is Dominica`s first true eco-inn and has followed ecological principles for several decades and is an international award-winning hotel! “She understood the magic of the product and stayed true to it…Papillote Wilderness Retreat is Dominica’s original ‘eco inn’ and remains one of the leading eco lodges in the region,” her citation reads.

Proprietor Anne Jno Baptiste was awarded an honorary membership in the Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association in November 2014.
Papillote is Dominica`s first true eco-inn.It has followed ecological principles for several decades and is an international award-winning hotel!

*Many thanks to Anne Jno Baptiste, Founder and Director of Papillote Wilderness Retreat for creating this perfect paradise on the Nature Island, and for taking the time to help me with plant identification.  Her knowledge-base of tropical  horticulture is nothing short of amazing!