Tuesday, December 6, 2011: Roseau, Dominica
Arriving into the capital city of Roseau, the island of Dominica, we knew that today would be about green, lush, rainforests and all of the jewels that come from that amazing tropical environment. Today, we will be spending the day with Bumpiing Tours and taking a Pools, Falls, and More tour. Meeting up with Levi Baron, the owner of the company, we were quickly put with another four people and our van of 8 was assigned superguide Roselind and we made our way out of the captial of Roseau and into the hills.
As we drove along the road, we were surprised as to the amount and diversity of fruit growing everywhere! Mangoes, guavas, pineapples, bananas, and more where everywhere you looked. Roselind explained that although that is a wonderful problem to have, believe it or not there is a huge amount of waste each year during th eharvest period as mangoes literally fall from the sky and there is simply not enough time or people to collect them all and do something with them.
As we took that all in, we arrived at our first stop of the day, Emerald Pool. To begin, we parked our vehicle and went through the tiny visitor’s center, only to end up on a path that took us only about 15 minutes into the rainforest. The strange thing was that it only took a minute or two until we were completed surrounded by immensely tall trees, lush green plants, and the sounds of nature. It was wonderful to experience.
We were also fortunate to be at this location first thing in the morning and as of yet, there were no other visitors, so we had the place to ourselves. Roselind did a wonderful job sharing information about the rainforest on Dominica, some of the trees, plants, and medicinal qualities of each. As we reached a small clearing, we got our first look at the Emerald Pool. A waterfall was pouring itself into a crystal clear pool below, surrounded by vines, plants, and trees, making it a picturesque place to not only relax, but to appreciate all to ourselves.
It took another 5-10 minutes hiking down to the floor of the rainforest and then we had arrived at the base of the pool. Natalie and I quickly switched into swimsuit mode and hit the water in the hopes of having this place all to ourselves before the first bug buses began to arrive. The cool, refreshing, and not too cold water was amazing to cut the humidity of the rainforest, and to swim under the waterfall was like getting a powerful massage on your shoulders and back. It was great!
We took a bunch of pictures here and before we knew it almost 30 minutes had passed and we suddenly realized that we were being watched from the upper viewpoint! The cruise ship tour buses had arrived and it was clear that a lot of folks were interested in sharing this space, so we quickly got out and toweled off as the first few folks were making their way into the pool entrance.
There was a different path to leave the area, so we got to avoid the crowds and see another area of the park along with a viewpoint of the Atlantic Ocean to the east before making our way back to the parking lot. When we had arrived, we were the first van in the lot. Now, there were more than 8 and a few buses as well. We thanked Roselind for her expert planning and knew that today was going to be a day to remember.
Back in the parking lot, we took a few minutes to look at the handicrafts offered by the local people. The Carib peoples had passed down generation to generation a skill of weaving beautiful baskets and fans made out of natural materials and we got to see a local woman in progress with a large project. A fan was picked up and then we grabbed a cool drink (complimentary) and headed back out towards our next stop.
Our next stop, was at the Mr. Nice Fruit Stand. Mr. Nice, a local well known both on and off of the island has a little stand where he samples a number of the local fruits grown on the island and simply asks for nothing more than a tip for his troubles. Today he was sampling bananas, pineapple (so sweet!), cocoa beans, and coconut. We got to try everything and enjoyed the comradery which about two dozen other folks that were visiting him as well.
Our next stop was to a lookout high above the capital city of Roseau, where we were able to take pictures of the city and again admire some beautiful crafts made by the local people here. All along the way, the folks we met were very considerate, and there was absolutely no hard sell, or at least none that we could have identified.
Because of the volcanic and mountainous nature of the island, no two places were connected with a direct path. In many cases one must wind their way along the mountainside on a curvy road from one place to the next and this added significant time to all of our driving. Thankfully, we had an excellent driver and Roselind had a bundle of jokes and riddles to keep us all entertained. She tested the waters early in the day with a couple of riddles. All of us in the van had such a good time with them that unbeknownst to us, she had a library of comedy ready to share and made for plenty of fun and hilarity along the way.
Our next stop was at the Botanic Gardens, where Roselind showed and explained the national flag of Dominica. Considered one of the world’s most complex, a unique combination of stripes, colors, shapes, and a bird were all explained to us. At this stop we could see the national bird on display as well as a number of colorful flowers of the island.
From here, we began to make our way into the interior of the island and towards Trafalgar Falls, where the volcanic activity of the island continues to pump out loads of hot water that is used for spas and hot pools for visitors. As we arrived at Trafalgar, we could see two waterfalls and below them are a number of hot pools for folks to soak in.
Natalie and I made the trek (about 10-15 minutes of semi-steep rock boulder hopping) with our guide and we arrived at the pools. Though the water was hot chocolate in color, it was quite warm (well over 90 degrees, if not towards 100) and we enjoyed the theraputic benefits of the warm water as the tension drifted away down the streams that run through the pools.
As we were still deep within the rain forest, there was lush green plants, huge palms and leaves, and it made the entire experience much like being in the jungle. As the time passed, we spoke with some other folks that were on another bus with Bumpiing Tours and found that they were enjoying their day just as much as we were.
We were thoroughly relaxed by this point and enjoyed the leisurely ride back into the capital city of Roseau, where we were returned to our ship. It was a wonderful day in Dominica and through the natural beauty of the island and the generous hosts that shared it with us, we look forward to a timely return.
Next up — The Spice Island of Grenada!