Our town here is small, up the mountain, and much more comfortable than the heat of the city where we work. Eggleston is simple. There aren’t any off-road hikes up here or crazy places to explore, but we walk down to the retreat house to get our fill.
We usually need to wait until it cools down in the evening to walk it. We go down the main road, a small lane of potholes and gravel piles, and turn into the fork to begin our trip. It’s not more than a mile, but it’s a new world to me.
At the start there is a view of the ocean to the right. The edge of the cliff is the barrier between us and a green world. Anything and everything could be happening down there. Each part of the island is so diverse that nothing would surprise me. The ocean sits down at the bottom, calm and infinite.
The rest of it is a winding road through what feels like the Amazon – complete with moisture from the rain and tons of bird sounds. On this day they echoed through the forest, more excited than the locals about the end of the dry season. Mangos were everywhere along with these vines that look like lobster’s antennae. It’s a wild place.
Halfway in we refill our waters, free of charge. Anybody could drink the river water on this island, and it tastes fresher than any bottled water I’ve had.
It’s nice and relaxing. Even on days when you don’t do a lot, there’s still reason to get out and explore. There’s so many cool things out there. And for me, having a destination makes it that much more rewarding.
The retreat center is about 70 years old, but doesn’t show it. People live there full-time, maintaining it, and it is used to host groups. Through a metal archway after the buildings there’s a long path to their garden. The trail is guarded by these two cats that always look skeptical of us. Along with others, they’re still getting used to the foreigners.
The smell of the garden is overwhelming, like a tropical greenhouse. It lingers, and there’s really no way to ignore it – not that you’d want to. They grow mangos, coconuts, apricots, and the biggest limes I’ve ever seen. But, more than likely, they are naturally there. The whole island is like a fruit farm.
In fact, we’re still yet to pay for a mango or a banana. They’re everywhere for the taking. The bananas, which they call figs, are different than Chiquitas. At about an iPhone’s length they’re easier to hold, and the weight is comparable to those at home. They pull apart like dough, giving them a thicker texture with the same taste. They’re delicious.
It started to rain buckets of water as we left the center. The canopy above us helped for a little bit, but rain always finds a way to soak you. We walked up the same path we had come down, but this time were forced to accept our situation. There was no way to stay dry so I just enjoyed what surrounded me. Everything seemed greener and more alive. The rain reminded me of going to the Rainforest Cafe as a kid, only now I’m an adult and it’s the real thing.
No recorded sound I hear from this point on will ever compete with the chirping, rustling, and always-changing sound of Dominica’s forest.