The wonders of Dominica were a constant during my few weeks anchored off of the north side of Portsmouth town beach where the Portsmouth Association of Yacht Services (PAYS) looked out for the boats. Almost everyday offered another amazing experience. Mike, Kirsten, Megs, Tom, Lisa and Nills and I ventured off on another day trip together to hit a bunch of the beautiful natural sites. One of the main events for this day was another hike to another beautiful waterfall, Middleham Falls.
During the drive down the west coast from Portsmouth toward Roseau, I was getting what seemed to be a private taxi tour of the villages as we passed through each. I sat in the front seat of the van and listened to how each village had it’s own natural resource or was known for one thing or another. There are 365 rivers on Dominica (what a nice number to remember- though it’s astonishing number of rivers for a relatively small geographical area!) and certain rivers bring a its own specific resource down to the coast with the rushing water, ie. sand, gravel, water for making rum. I made mental note of the one town with a local beekeeper that sold tropical floral honey locally around the island (and truly it is tropically delicious).
Eventually we found our way south just past mid-island up some curvy steep roads to the entrance of the National Park trailhead to Middleham Falls. Since I was finally able to hobble along all right, we were able to commit to an extensive hike for the injured, that is about 2.5hrs round trip. The trail was very well maintained and my friends were very supportive and encouraging as I trooped through the rainforest to this incredibly beautiful and impressive watering hole.
The water fell from towering heights into seemingly the most perfect-naturally rounded pool for swimming. The sun rays beamed down to this misty spot just right that a large prominant rainbow was a permanent fixture that time of day. So brightening, the rainbows are another constant in Dominica which makes me think we should call this place the land of rainbows.
The pool and rushing water looked so inviting but because of the altitude and the cooling effect of the rainforest, it was quite chilly and the water seemingly freezing which deleted my constant desire to always just want to jump in! I had officially been in the Caribbean too long and I had climatized; but admittedly my ankle was not well enough to shimmy across the rocks to get down to an adequate jumping ledge, nor did I think I’d get back out and up without regretting it with injury. I had to be careful, as I’m sure none of my friends had signed up to carry me out on the hike back!
This day of adventure also included Dominican’s most well known waterfall, Trafalgar Falls; which is a much shorter hike (5min) to the double falls where you can go up and dip into the water quite easily and wade in little pools where the sun beamed down warmth on you. One of the falls is warmer than the other as one stream of water passes through a hot sulfur spring, which makes for a variety of experiences in this one large rocky pool where the waters converge together. Sitting under mini waterfalls that act as natural massages on your back and generally enjoying the energy of the water, sun, surrounding tropical vegetation, and company of good friends.
Last but not least, we were able to hit one of my favorite natural tourist spots, Titou Gorge. This little spot was incredible and super fun for swimming. The entrance to the water was a bit warmed due to the small hot spring that fell into the pool. You could sit there for a natural warm shower or swim into the gorges. It was dark down in between the tall rock walls as water rushed down in between; it was a good fight against the current to get to the waterfall that spit out anything that jumped into it. There were means to get above and go for a ride, but the water rushed swiftly and we more or less just played in the eddies and big pool that was a bit more open than the short upriver swim. Or at least I stayed in the pool, as being injured definitely dampened my adventurous side. Being in the gorges you are surrounded by walls of wet moss in green and yellow hues, select rays of sun that were luckily able to pass through the thick foliage above glistened in the dark waters, and the seeping watery rocks – wet, musty, tropical, and cool- was so surreal. Frolicking in the waters with some of my best friends, it was truly one of the most adventurous and memorable swims yet.
To top of this exciting day of adventure and soaking up the natural beauty Dominica bursts with, I got a message from a former boat neighbor that he was sailing into Dominica that evening! Francis is the co-owner of the S/V Sparkle Pony is one special neighboring boat from my time spent with Acedia moored out off Piers Park, East Boston Harbor. It was the best mooring spot ever; the view of the city, the park and greenway, the dinghying around Boston Harbor, the party nights on the boats (my birthday 2012 was one of the best), fireworks, sunsets, friends, and all the associated shenanigans. You sometimes canNOT beat living aboard. Francis was on a delivery from Granada to Miami and just happened to be passing by Dominica. He had so very generously let me use his sat phone for the delivery down from the Northeast US and thought he’d pop by to pick it up. I was just thrilled, Francis popping by Dominica after sailing >1500nm away from home! I was so psyched to see friendly, familiar faces whenever they appeared; and equally surprised to run into so many. The proud hug I received, priceless. Francis was such a great support in my preparing for this trip. Wow-I’m still amazed I really did it!! And somehow I was blessed to have days like this full of adventure with my bestest boat friends and then having taco dinner on a passing catamaran with that brought a solid sailor friend from back home.
Now sitting here in Maine as the sit in front of a picture window watching the first snow, I can’t describe how happy I am to have these too crazy of experiences as memories behind me. It doesn’t quite beat sitting in my cockpit with a tropical Caribbean sunset as I type, but what I learned was that typing got in the way of the adventuring. And, in Dominica specifically, I was able to capture approximately 1000 photos, it’s so incredible there are that I had to attempt to capture that spirit. And well, a thousand photos bog down fragile Wi-Fi bandwidths; I got completely overwhelmed sorting and deciding which ones to share!