Dominica has plenty to do. There’s hiking, the ocean, 365 rivers you can visit, and much more. We haven’t had time to do much yet, so last weekend we visited the other side of the island to get our feet wet.
Our two other teammates live in Woodford Hill, an hour bus ride from us. We spent the night with them and went on what turned into a long hike to Chaudiere Pool. It’s a great cliff jumping spot in the woods. There’s good swimming and smooth rocks to sit on and enjoy the sun beaming down through the trees.
Our adventure took us several starving hours. We’d later find out it takes 20-30 minutes to get to if you know where you’re going. Thanks to almost no directions and a lack of good signs, we didn’t.
At 8:30 AM we hopped on a bus to head over. Without a clue, we got off half a mile too far and had to backtrack.
We hiked for about forty minutes without sight of water. After passing goats, dogs, and chickens I realized it had been a while since we had seen, or heard, people. This is common here, but not when you’re going to a popular spot. For all we knew, we went the wrong way. Uphill walking became steeper uphill walking, and finally we saw a small red sign telling us, “Chaudiere Pool, This Way.”
We followed it down the hill, figuring we were close. When it continued endlessly we cursed the fact that we had to keep walking, and sometimes sliding, down the hill. Every 90 degree turn we would think we were finally there, only to be proved wrong and forced to keep moving.
Then, we found another sign. It had the same words as the las, but it was hidden in a tree and pointing at a weird angle. It turned us to look up a concrete road that could double as the steep slide at an amusement park. We forced our way up it – it had to be the direction to the pool.
Repeatedly going up and down drained us; then the bridges came. We crossed our first one with no problems, and got to enjoy it’s view.
At the third one that we were wondering if we were going the right direction. The heat was magnifying and all the turns were repetitive. But, we had to know for sure. At the fourth one we accepted that we had no choice but to drench our feet to continue. It forced us to make up our mind; the pool was this way.
The first one wasn’t too bad, but over the next five we stopped caring. Our boots were now sponges, leaving a stench only baking soda could get rid of.
After an hour and a half of walking we found water, a dam, and a dead end. The thing we didn’t find was our pool. Exhausted, we jumped in the water anyways. It was a good consolation. For me, being in the river took some of the pain out of it. The water was more refreshing than any beer, anywhere, on any hot day.
We soon left, determined to find this place. If we didn’t, we would never hear the end of it from the locals. We walked at double the pace through the same water, too focused to watch our surroundings.
We were getting close to the sign. Hunger and anger were eating away at us. Dehydration from all the walking left us totally out of it. And it wasn’t surprising to me that a log in the road started moving. Only the log had a head, it wasn’t a log, and the head was attached to a Boa Constrictor. Great.
Locals had said there were snakes on the island, but we didn’t know five-foot Boas were included. It slithered into the forest, ignoring us as we did the same. The next day we were told how rare that sighting was, and how “lucky” we were.
We got back to the sign to realize there was a hidden “path” into the forest next to it. So much for good directions. We trudged through, happy to finally be close, and found the pool.
Cliff jumping ensued, along with relaying our story to a local we met. He thought we were idiots; I would have too. He turned out to be a great guy, and had seen us on TV last week. I talked to him about everything from the forearm-length crayfish he catches to his life growing up here. I learned about his childhood at this pool and how the island has changed over time.
Luckily, the conversation led to him driving us back up to the bus stop to get some food and decompress.