A Sensational Start to 2016 on Dominica, the Nature Island

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The 4 acre garden at Papillote Wilderness Retreat near Trafalgar Dominica is a place to really appreciate the splendour of the Nature Island.

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You know it’s the Christmas season when beautiful Poinsettias are in bloom in Dominica.

There are hundreds of tropical plants to admire and appreciate at Papilotte Wilderness Retreat.

There are hundreds of tropical plants to admire and appreciate at Papillote Wilderness Retreat.

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

A therpaeutic soak in natural hot mineral waters is always a treat at Papillote Wilderness Retreat.

A therapeutic soak in natural hot mineral waters is always a treat at Papillote Wilderness Retreat.

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.

The twin Trafalgar Falls as seen from the viewing platform in April 2015.

The twin Trafalgar Falls as seen from the viewing platform in April 2015.

At the same time, I was reminded of how human beings have negatively affected the planet with pollution and

Th twin Trafalgar Falls as seen from the viewing platform on January 1 2016 (about 4 months after TS Erika).

Th twin Trafalgar Falls as seen from the viewing platform on January 1 2016 (about 4 months after TS Erika).

overall thoughtlessness about our precious environment. On Dominica, climate change is increasingly apparent, and the heavy prolonged rainfall produced by

The area below the waterfalls experienced a massive landslide during TS Erika in August 2015.

The area below the waterfalls experienced a massive landslide during TS Erika in August 2015.

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.

The path towards the Mother Fall at Trafalgar was destroyed by these boulders during TS Erika in August 2015.

The path towards the Mother Fall at Trafalgar was destroyed by these boulders during TS Erika in August 2015.

The Father Fall at Trafalgaris even more remote following TS Erika on August 27, 2015.

The Father Fall at Trafalgar seems even more remote following TS Erika on August 27, 2015.

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!

The CHristmas tress in the dining room at Papillote gave it an especially homey ambiance on New Year's Day.

The Christmas tree in the dining room at Papillote gave it an especially homey ambiance on New Year’s Day.

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.

The staff at Papillote never have to ask me what I ould like for lunch. I am in love with their flying fish platter!

The staff at Papillote never have to ask me what I would like for lunch. I am in love with their flying fish platter (with dasheen puffs, fried plantains and salad)!

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.

A soak in a hot pool at Papillote is a heavenily experience on earth.

A soak in a hot pool at Papillote is a heavenly experience on earth.

Happy New Year to one and all!  Pray for peace and protect our precious planet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capturing Dominica’s Creole Spirit: Enjoying Memorable Meals made with the Nature Island’s Finest Recipes

My classic Creole breakfast at Cartwheel Cafe comprised boiled egg, fresh baked bread, seasoned codfish (saltfish), cucumber salad and coffee, of course!

My classic Creole breakfast at Cartwheel Cafe  (448-5353)  on the Roseau Bayfront consisted of boiled egg, fresh-baked bread, seasoned codfish (salt fish), breadfruit, cucumber salad with avocado slices and coffee, of course!

When Creole Day rolls around every October in Dominica, I tend to fast the day before to  be able to feast in the true sense of the word!

Of course, I do spend the morning running around Roseau so that I can take plentiful pictures of people in their gorgeous Creole garb.  Perhaps you’ve looked at my earlier post about fashions in madras fabric as seen on the streets on October 25, 2013.  You can take a(nother) peek here.

In order to have enough energy for my wanderings through ‘town’, I fortified myself with a hearty Creole breakfast at Cartwheel Café (448-5353) on the Bayfront.  For me, it was the perfect balance of protein, starch and greens.  The coffee  just added a little extra ‘umph’ for my ‘runnings’.

By midday, I was satisfied with my photographic pursuits and I had certainly greeted everyone I knew (and some strangers too) with ‘Bonne journée Créole‘.  (It’s not quite Creole – my French gets in the way – but it sounds similar!)  The streets were becoming increasingly congested as  out-of-towners drove in for the well advertised Creole lunches that were taking place at various establishments – both large and small.  But I was headed in the opposite direction – guess where!!

Like last year, Springfield Guest House was offering a grand buffet Creole lunch – with numerous main course  choices à la Créole: Codfish Sancoche; Fish Coubouillion; Creole Stewed Chicken; and Curried Goat!  I knew what to expect and that was exactly what I wanted, as I have always enjoyed Chef Sandra’s culinary creations – and the natural ambience at this lovely and historic establishment gives me a feeling of complete contentment.

I appreciated this display of some local fruits at Springfield Guest House.  It was created so that cruise ship visitors could view some of the Nature Island's produce up close.

I appreciated this display of some local fruits at Springfield Guest House. It was created so that cruise ship visitors could view some of the Nature Island’s produce up close.

It was an easy 15 minute drive from Pottersville (on the north side of Roseau) and the weather cooperated (no rain!) on the way there.  As soon as

This beautiful bouquet of rainforest plants and flowers complemented the splendor of Springfield Guest House.

This beautiful bouquet of rainforest plants and flowers complemented the splendor of Springfield Guest House.

I got out of the car, I gulped great breaths of pure  fresh air.  As I was a bit early,I walked around the stately ‘ Great House’  and admired the views and the well presented dining areas – both inside and outside.  I started off the meal with a glass of sweet fresh coconut’ water’ (its juice).  At about that time, Nancy the Managing Director and Susanne, a German expatriate joined me and remarked that I seemed to have quickly revived from that natural beverage.  It was truly refreshing!

Then it was time for a starter.  I chose a cup of  vegetarian callaloo soup with a home-made bun on the side.

A cup of all-natural vegetarian callaloo soup and a home-made bun by Chef Sandra served as the starter to my substantial Creole meal.

A cup of all-natural vegetarian callaloo soup and a home-made bun by Chef Sandra served as the starter to my substantial Creole meal.

This new ‘national dish’ of Dominica is made from the green leaves of the dasheen plant. It was divine!

May main course Creole lunch included Tuna Couboullion; Codfish Sancoche; Pigeon Peas and Rice in Cocnut Cream; Breadfruit Croquettes; Avocado-Farine Balls; Madras Plantains; Pumpkin Accras; Roasted Breadfruit; cabbage and Tomato Salad.

My main course Creole Lunch at Springfield Guest House included Tuna Couboullion; Codfish Sancoche; Pigeon Peas and Rice in Coconut Cream; Breadfruit Croquettes; Avocado-Farine Balls; Madras Plantains; Pumpkin Accras; Roasted Breadfruit; Cabbage and Tomato Salad.

Then I was warmed up for the main course  – well I actually had two…I did tell you it was a day of feasting.  I guess I was making up for

The westerly view from the dining porch of Springfield Guest House is a Dominican favourite of mine.

The westerly view from the dining porch of Springfield Guest House is a Dominican favourite of mine.

missing Canadian Thanksgiving dinners a couple of weeks earlier in October!   The plate on the left reveals what I consumed a few minutes after the photo.  As we savoured every morsel, we reminisced about other times we had enjoyed in this wonderful setting.  I am also always rejuvenated by spending some time gazing down the Antrim Valley to the Caribbean Sea. That sensational view always

restores me to a tranquil frame of mind.

We did pause for a few moments before dessert, but the selections were so tempting that we could not wait for very long.  I had hoped to take a walk around the property after the meal, but the weather was turning and my stomach was almost overloaded.  Therefore, I succumbed to the whims of the day and reminded myself that the objective was to feast – and it was just so!

The home-made smooth and mouth-watering  guava ice-cream, which was served with wholesome  fruit ‘tarts’  completed this dining extravaganza.  I don’t know how I managed to find room for all that food – but I have no regrets.  Only a hurricane would have kept me away from my delectable Creole Lunch at Springfield that day!

There wasn't any room in my stomach, but that didn't stop me from sampling these fruit 'tarts': coconut; guava and apricot.

There wasn’t any room in my stomach, but that didn’t stop me from sampling these fruit ‘tarts’: coconut; guava and apricot.

Chef Sandra outdid herself when she prepared rich and filling guava ice cream.

Chef Sandra outdid herself when she prepared rich and filling guava ice cream.

If you would like information about weekday lunches at Springfield (by reservation only) contact: springfield.dominica@gmail.com  You can also find out more about this Research Center here.

Many thanks to Nancy and Sandra and the entire team for organizing and preparing this wonderful repast on Creole Day. I can’t wait for my next lunch  at Springfield Guest House!

A Birthday Celebration in Dominica’s Beautiful Interior

River Stone Bar 'n' Grill is a great place to spend a Sunday afternoon in Dominica's interior.

River Stone Bar ‘n’ Grill is a great place to spend a Sunday afternoon in Dominica’s interior.  It’s located on the Airport Road, about a mile east of Pond Casse in the centre of the island.

It's  a pretty drive into Dominica's interior from Springfield, which is situated on the edge of the rainforest at about 1,200 feet above sea level.

It’s a pretty drive into Dominica’s interior.

It was Nancy who suggested  that some friends should celebrate their birthdays, which are actually a few days apart at River Stone Bar ‘n’ Grill in Dominica’s mountainous interior. The proprietress, Maxine Alleyne-Esprit was acknowledging her own big day a little in advance – on Sunday August 25th, and was offering good food, smooth tunes and a chance to ‘lime’ (West Indian for hanging out and having a good time) at her establishment along the Laurent River near the village of Bells.  I had been there once before –  in May, after Hike Fest’s foray along  and through(!) the Layou River to experience the Jacko Steps and Jacko Flats.  I had so much fun dining, dancing and bathing in the river post-hike that day. I looked forward to a repeat performance as part of this birthday bash.

The only initial drawback was the weather: heavy rain was in the forecast.  It is not advisable to drive in Dominica’s interior on that kind of day, as landslides of rocks and mud and flash floods on the rivers are always possible.  We all chose to err on the side of caution and waited throughout that morning with hopes that the clouds would lift.  Miraculously (well, I think so), by midday, the sun started to shine, so we were a ‘go’!

Four of us met at Springfield Plantation in the early afternoon, where Nancy (the manager) offered us a celebratory drink before we piled into her vehicle for the half hour ride further into the rainforest for our birthday get-together.  As the skies continued to brighten, I admired the silhouettes of significant massifs as we headed  in an easterly direction.  When we approached the Pond Cassé round-about (traffic circle) in the middle of the island, I gazed in awe at Morne Trois Pitons, Dominica’s second highest peak,  which dominates the area with its multitudinous shades of green.

Our conversation was lively and chatty, as we caught up on each other’s news and plans.  In no time,  we approached the Laurent River Bridge and turned into the lane way that lead to our destination.  It was about 3 p.m., and at that time, we had the place to ourselves.  I think the earlier inclement weather prediction was holding people back from making the inland trip.  We did not mind, as we were there to have a good time, no matter who else was there!  We selected a table which was situated almost directly over the river.  It was close enough  to a sheltered overhang, if it actually did start to rain.

The birthday gals were in fine form as we relaxed on the lovely deck over the Laurent River.

The birthday gals were in fine form as we relaxed on the lovely deck over the Laurent River.

Liz and I professed to being very hungry so we ordered and subsequently tucked in to a huge lunch right away.  It was a feast that perfectly complemented the celebratory day.  Liz really enjoyed well prepared pork with a BBQ sauce, breadfruit, tasty ‘rice and peas’ (beans) and a hearty green salad . I devoured the ‘mahi-mahi’ fish, which was slathered  in a delicious herbal seasoning, along with the same delectable accompaniments.  It was a substantial meal, and we both  made short work of it!

As we were deep in the mountains, the sun quickly disappeared  as the afternoon wore on.  Liz was keen for a swim and wondered if I would partake of a ‘river bath’ too.  I was

When I look at a topographical map, it seems to me that the Laurent River originates from Morne Trois Pitons, which is over 4,500' high. No wonder it is so cold!

When I look at a topographical map, it seems to me that the powerful Laurent River originates from Morne Trois Pitons, which is over 4,500′ high. No wonder it is so cold!

tempted, and had even brought my suit along.  I declined but she went in, while I took off my sandals and sat by the riverside.  When I put my feet in, I quickly pulled them out: too cold for

Liz didn't seem to mind the chilly waters of the mighty Laurent, which passes close to River Stone Bar 'n' Grill near Bells Dominica.

Liz didn’t seem to mind the chilly waters of the mighty Laurent, which passes close to River Stone Bar ‘n’ Grill near Bells Dominica. A rock-slide from a previous storm is seen in the background.

me!  Yes, those mountain rivers can be chilly, as is the case with the Laurent.   Liz toughed it out, and it seems to me that she had fun! (She said it wasn’t so cold once in the water for a while, but I was content to stay mostly dry).

By the time we arrived back at our table, people with whom we were acquainted happened along. Soon it became common knowledge that there was a group of birthday girls in the house!

This fact was reinforced by Maxine, proprietress of the property, who made a general announcement over the D.J.’s sound system.  Seeing as the “secret” was out, D.J. David Sorhaindo played some appropriate birthday tunes, including Kool and the Gang‘s “Celebration” (1980).  Liz and I got up to move to the beat and stayed for a while on the floor while D.J. David played a sequence of favourite ‘Oldie Goldies’ from the 70’s and 80’s.  I was in my element – but I

D.J. David Sorhaindo knew how to members of the '50+" Club' on the dance floor. I had fun groovin' to the oldie goldie tunes.  Thanks David!

D.J. David Sorhaindo knew how to get a few members of the ’50+ Club’ on the dance floor. I had fun groovin’ to the oldie goldie tunes. Thanks David! (Note: his birthday was a few days earlier.  It was definitely a festive atmosphere!).

won’t say anything more about that – you had  to have been be there…

The birthday girls enjoyed their 'lime' at River Stone Bar 'n' Grill.  From left: Gwendominica;Sarah;Nancy; Maxine (proprietress); and Liz.

The birthday girls  enjoyed their ‘lime’ at River Stone Bar ‘n’ Grill. From left: Gwen;Sarah;Nancy; Maxine (proprietress); and Liz.

Of course, what would a birthday be without cake.  It certainly was my lucky day, because I savoured a sensational slice of  the homemade sweet prepared by Maxine’s mother.  I have to honestly say – it was one of the most delicious I have eaten in recent memory – it was so moist, flavourful and light.  Thanks, Mrs. Alleyne! I hope I will have the good fortune to order a slice or more when I return to River Stone next time.  Maxine, take note!  While another cake was making the rounds, I did sample it but I was more desirous of having an extra piece of the first one. And now you know why!

We lingered a little longer even though darkness set in all too quickly.  Then the rain did start, which signalled us to depart and   come back  to the relaxing River Stone Bar ‘n’ Grill another day.

Thanks Maxine, for hosting a very sweet birthday ‘lime’ which we enjoyed immensely.  It was a memorable afternoon in a super natural setting within Dominica’s beautiful interior. See you on another Sunday sometime soon. And Happy Birthday to you!

A Feast for Canada Day – Dominican style

The Canadian flag complements the lovely red and white anthurium lillies - a perfect blend of my two favourite countries: Canada and Dominica!

While overlooking Roseau, the Canadian flag complements the lovely red and white anthurium lilies – a perfect blend of my two favourite countries: Canada and Dominica!

Although I have lived far away from “my home and native land”  for a long time, I always make a point of celebrating Canada Day  in Dominica.

This year, I decided to treat myself and a Canadian friend to a meal at a Roseau restaurant that was unfamiliar to me.  But I didn’t just splurge, I had a gift – yes, another one (!) from Hike Fest 2013 – a certificate that would cover both our meals quite well.  I was very excited about this other prize, and David, the Administrative Officer at the Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association (DHTA) was equally pleased for me.  That only added to the anticipation of an unfamiliar dining experience.  But I should have known – as the DHTA office is right next door to 15 Castle Street, I am sure that David frequents the Old Stone Grill and Bar.

Amooir is a charming bartender who has a knack for mixing  delectable and memorable drinks.

Amooir is a charming bartender who has a knack for mixing delectable and memorable drinks.

And

The Old Stone Grill and Bar is situated at 15 Castle Street, Roseau (on the eastern side of the street, opposite the DOMLEC building.

The Old Stone Grill and Bar is situated at 15 Castle Street, Roseau (on the eastern side of the street, opposite the DOMLEC building. Phone: (767) 440-7549.

now I know why!

When I arrived around 4 p.m., I was greeted warmly and offered help by Marlene, who was our main server that afternoon.  While I waited for Nancy, I admired the tasteful artwork on the walls, warm red table settings and lush green plants surrounding the dining room.

The cheery red tablecloths perfectly complemented my Canada Day attire!

The cheery red tablecloths perfectly complemented my Canada Day attire!

Soon Nancy appeared, looking very refreshed and `Canadian` after her recent trip to Canada for her sister“s wedding.  We did joke about my affinity for celebrating Canada Day, which I honoured by wearing red and white and tacking a maple leaf pin on my lapel.  As my friend teased me, Marlene brought us our menus and asked if we would like something to drink.  Before we made a selection, I spouted out: `Do you know what day this is.` `Why, it`s Canada Day, of course,`she replied confidently.  `How did you know,`I queried.  The pleasant young lady just smiled. No doubt, I had given it away somehow, or maybe she has Canadian connections.  It`s entirely possible on the Nature Island!

When our drinks arrived, I savored the delicious mix of tropical  fruits (mangoes, bananas and others) in my non-alcoholic cocktail.  It was divine. Nancy sipped on a sweet chardonnay wine while she recounted her sister`s wonderful wedding (congratulations Heather and Chris!), described some of the rides at Canada`s Wonderland and impressed me with her attendance at a Toronto Bluejay`s Baseball Game (go Jays go!)

Then Nancy queried Marlene about possible menu choices.  She graciously described several of the items and assured us of their freshness.  There were so many options.  Marlene made this monumental task easier, although there are a number of offerings I want to try next visit!

I chose a cozy corner with a table for two and made myself at home!

I chose a cozy corner with a table for two and made myself at home!

Grilled Mahi-Mahi fish, covered in an herb sauce, with breadfruit croquettes and slightly steamed vegetables satiated my taste buds.

Grilled Mahi-Mahi fish, covered in a herb sauce, with breadfruit croquettes and slightly steamed vegetables satiated my taste buds.

It seemed like no time at all when our dinners arrived and we oohed and aahed over their exquisite presentation before we even

Nancy`s grilled chicken salad and a sprinkling of cheese had definite appeal!

Nancy`s grilled chicken salad and a sprinkling of cheese had definite appeal!

took a bite!  While soft jazz music played in the background, Nancy relished a tasteful chicken salad extraordinaire.  I practically inhaled my grilled Mahi-Mahi  fish  with a herb sauce, lightly fried breadfruit croquettes and delicately steamed vegetables.  Of course, we cleaned our plates! (to use a Canadian expression)

And what would a Canada Day feast be like without a bit of sweetness to round off the meal!  Nancy didn`t waste any time as she spooned up a delectable  slice of cheesecake with strawberry topping.  There were no regrets about my choice either: a springy and light Alsatian cake with home-made coconut ice cream on the side.

It does look like two desserts - and why not! It was Canada Day, after all!

It does look like two desserts – and why not! It was Canada Day, after all!

As we lingered a little longer over the last crumbs, the tables around us filled with eager diners.  Now I could easily understand why this restaurant is so popular.  When the bill arrived, I was very pleased that the gift certificate practically covered everything and we ate a lot, I confess (but with no regrets!).

I would like to thank Leonard Lewis, proprietor of  Old Stone Grill and Bar for his generous support of Hike Fest through this wonderful donation of a complimentary dinner for two. As well, I am very grateful to the Hike Fest Committee of the Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association for awarding me with this delectable prize.  It was worth every step!

This flavourful  and substantial meal was the perfect way to celebrate Canada Day – in Dominica!

Spending a ‘Spa Day’ at Dominica’s Papillote Wilderness Retreat

Some secluded and private  hot and cold  water pools are found within Papillote’s four-acre garden.

The female or ‘mother’ cascade(on the right when facing the falls from the viewing platform) of the twin Trafalgar Falls is a short, uphill hike from Papillote Wilderness Retreat. Photo by Edwin Whitford.

Every now and then, I look forward to a day away from Roseau by escaping to Papillote Wilderness Retreat, which is located in the mountains around the Roseau Valley in Dominica’s interior.  It’s only a 20 minute drive from the city and is nestled in a four-acre tropical garden not far from the twin Trafalgar Falls, which is a popular tourist attraction and is easily accessible from this hotel by foot.

But for those seeking privacy and seclusion, there are many reasons( including  breathtaking waterfalls right  on  the site!) just to’ stay put’ on this lovely property, which has been in existence as various hospitality businesses since the  1960’s.  It now operates as an intimate hotel, restaurant and spa and is the recipient of numerous  travel and eco-tourism awards!

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 bestowed 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!

Physiotherapist Ariane pauses for a moment between clients in the Birdwatchers’ Hut at Papillote Wilderness Retreat.

I particularly like to spend the occasional TGIF (Friday) there because I can get a wonderful massage from Ariane Magloire, who is a  German-trained physiotherapist.  She has a very busy  ‘mobile’ practice, so I appreciate that she is available on Friday mornings at Papillote.  My recovery from a  persistent ‘flu  and cough had been very slow up to this time. But after Ariane worked on some tender points on my chest, face and arms and quelled the painful muscle spasms in my back, I felt an inch taller and could breathe  deeply without coughing!  It was impossible NOT to relax on the massage table in the serene setting of the Birdwatchers’ Hut, where hummingbirds flitted to and fro through the extensive garden and cheeky finches perched on my  covered feet in the hope of a taste of pure coconut massage oil.

After that sensational treatment, I felt on top of the world!  And my ‘spa day’ had only just begun!  While I waited for a friend to complete her massage, I wandered on trails through the tropical garden and admired the numerous plants that thrive in this rainforest setting.  There are actually hundreds of them and I realized that most of  those I had once recognized by name, I have since forgotten.  That will be rectified on my next visit by booking a proper ‘Garden Tour’ with one of the knowledgeable  staff members!  It had been a several years since my last one and it is time to refresh my memories of   Papillote’s prolific botanicals!

The calabash gourd thrives in this locale. The fruit can really get big and heavy. Its hard outer skin makes a great  container.

Anthurium lilies grow abundantly in the moist humid rainforest climate.

This plant looks like it might be a member of the ginger family, but I will confirm that after I take my garden tour!

I was surrounded by nature and had only the plentiful birds for company.  No other human was in sight!  I had my pick of a number of natural hot and cold mineral pools so I decided to move from one to another until it was time for lunch.  At the first one, I allowed the cleverly constructed cascade to pummel my back and neck to further loosen up stiff muscles and to take away some of the tenderness from the sore spots that Ariane had attended.  Then I flopped on my belly, propped myself up on the edge of the stone ‘bath’ and stared all around me at the magnificent greenery and colourful flowers.  This was definitely ‘paradise found’!

Reds, pinks and purples adorned my table – the sorrel juice, vase of anthuriums and hot pepper sauce complemented my meal.

The views of the Roseau Valley from the dining room area are simply stunning!

The dining room at Papillote is cozy, inviting and open to the natural surroundings.

I relaxed in another deeper pool for some minutes and then it was time for lunch! The friendly staff, many with whom I am acquainted from previous visits, warmly and cheerily welcomed me again.  We chuckled because invariably I always order the same thing – not because the menu lacks other temptations – but simply because I LOVE the flying fish platter so much that I must have it! I did savor every morsel  – tastefully seasoned in a mild peppery Creole sauce with lightly fried dasheen (a starchy root vegetable) puffs and a generous organic salad on the side.  I washed it down with a slightly sweet and spicy sorrel juice, which is made from the sepals of  hibiscus  flowers.  It was really delicious!

After lunch, there was time  for another soak or two on this perfect afternoon at Papillote.

It’s easy to refresh right under this waterfall or just admire it from the nearby naturally hot and cool pools.

Tim, a videographer who produces promotional material about Dominica ( See: ‘Are You Breathing?’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjrhQ7OdXZo) cools off near the waterfall while waiting for his visiting mother who has just enjoyed a hot pool massage with Ariane.

My friend and I chatted with other acquaintances as we lounged and luxuriated in the hot waters a few steps from the restaurant.  After a while, we descended a trail in the garden which led us to a hot pool and a cold pool in a sunny exposed area next to a lovely accessible waterfall.  I heated myself up a number of times and then squealed with trepidation as I hesitatingly  waded into the cooler pool.  My friend showered herself under the cascade’s cold torrent  but I was not so inclined on this day. In this pristine ecological environment,  I could feel my body and mind completely unwinding, and all my cares seemed to float away.

Unfortunately, I did have to face the reality of driving through Roseau’s Friday afternoon rush hour. I reluctantly pulled myself away from Papillote Wilderness Retreat  while maintaining  complete certainty that I will return again..and again…and again…