I woke up this morning, sick about my missing pictures and videos from yesterday. The wifi signal was actually decent (maybe 4:30am is prime wifi signal time in Hell No, Roseau?), so I googled how to recover deleted files from an SD card- with low expectations of it actually being a possibility. Came across a program that said it would recover up to 2GB of files for free!! After that, it would be $69. I didn’t think I had that much data. Hmmmm. You had to download it on to your computer, which always makes me nervous, so I researched the program and found that it was highly recommended! With nothing to lose, I downloaded it, followed the steps, and damn if all of my pics and videos magically appeared!! I saved them all to the folder on the PC again, double checked they were there, and wa-la! Crisis averted! I hereby declared to Brian that today was going to be recovery day- not just for my files, but for this trip in general!
After recovering the files, I finished almost all of the work I needed to do- at least enough of it that I wasn’t freaking out. The signal died right when I was doing the very last set of tasks, but I can live without those for now. We drove out of town at 9am, hoping to keep the gestapo car rental place from seeing that we were here and making another demand that we waste our time by coming into the office. We drove up a road called Valley road toward Middleham and Trafalgar falls. Oh man, was the scenery FANTASTIC! Just a few miles out of Hell No, Roseau and it was like being in a different world! It’s this amazing valley, with towering green mountain walls on either side. So lush and primitive looking that I told Brian I expected a dinosaur to be standing around the next blind curve (which would have been more welcome than a car in the middle of the road barreling toward us!).
After about 45 minutes we reached a fork in the road. Left was Middleham Falls, right was Trafalgar falls. We decided to go left. Found the parking lot, and headed down the trail. Let me preface this with we had done zero research on this. Well, enough to put it on our “to do” map, but there were no notes or anything about it. We figured it couldn’t be too far down. So with just the camera, we headed down the trail. Just the camera. No water, no snacks. The trail turned into rainforest stairs. Around every curve was another huge set of steps, carved into the side of the mountain and held into place with a piece of a log. Up and up and up we went. It was pretty damn hard core, especially for couch potato me who never works out. The only saving grace was that it was overcast. Had the sun been out, we wouldn’t have made it. It would flatten out a bit, we’d get excited, and then more stairs. We checked the gps to see if we were even getting close to the damn thing. Who knows since we were doing more “up” than “over”. We had no clue how far away it was. It could be 10 miles one way for all we knew. I was getting a lot tired and a little bitchy- about ready to turn around. We then came to an intersection where there was a sign that said Middleham Falls! About that time, something on the opposite trail jumped out of the bush, on to the trail, and back into the bush on the other side! I excitedly declared it to be an agouti rabbit! It had the size and body shape of an agouti, but a back end like a rabbit. Brian said it was an agoutibit. Research after the fact says it was in fact just an agouti, no rabbit hybrid. (Side note: I’ve eaten agouti in Belize. We should have caught the damn thing and saved it for later. #thefoodstruggleisreal) Other than that, the only wildlife we saw were 2 black snakes that crossed our path, which I thought was a rare treat!
We followed the sign toward the falls. And the trail went down. Down, down, down a zillion stairs. I knew that meant we’d have to come back up them. The stairs turned to slippery boulders. I was sure we were going to break an ankle and I’d be testing my trip insurance’s medical evacuation rider… I considered turning around several times, because again- we had no idea how much further the falls were. Brian is the only thing that kept me going. Finally we saw a glimpse of it through the trees! I said, “There it is! Now let’s turn around!”. No such luck. We forged ahead over damp roots and logs and boulders and finally made it to the end. It was MASSIVE- pouring off a huge cliff. We reached it at 11am. So a little over an hour in. Probably about 2.5 miles or so, which felt like 20. It was another climb down another trail to get to the pools. No thanks. This was beautiful and it was enough! We headed back, and my knees were dreading the back up to the intersection, then all of that down, down, down. Honestly, it went a lot faster than the going up seemed. We made it- about 5 miles total I’d say! Hot, sweaty, a bit dehydrated because we didn’t bring water like idiots, but satisfied with our accomplishment!
Drove back down the road to the fork, and went the other way to Trafalgar, eating a little jerky and some pistachios along the way. I declared that if it was more than 2.5 miles round trip, it was not happening! And that we had to get more water!! Along the way, a man put his hand out. We stopped to give him a ride. His name was Anthony. He asked how we liked driving here. I asked if he wanted us to be polite or tell him the truth. He laughed. He said the tourists here don’t know how to drive on the left. They mess up and drive on the right sometimes. And that the left side is the right side and the right side is the suicide! Ha!! There were lots of big, gorgeous houses up here. I asked him if this is where all the rich people live. He said no. That every house is owned by the bank, and if you don’t pay them back within 25 years, you lose the house. That’s not rich. He’s right. We told him we needed water. The market on the main road was closed, but he said he knew another that was in town down some narrow streets. Sure enough, there it was! Brian got out and got water- we never would have found it without Anthony! A bit further up the road and he said this was his stop. We bid him farewell and headed toward the falls. $5 US each to get in. I asked how long was the walk. 10 minutes there. PERFECT! Paid our money and headed….up. Ugh, more stairs! I told Brian these people need to put their waterfalls on flat land. He said they do, they’re called rivers. Smart ass.
A short hike up led us to a MAGNIFICENT set of twin waterfalls! Oh my god, it was gorgeous!! Huge canyon walls around us. Wow. Just WOW! We scrambled up some boulders and found a secluded little pool about 12 feet wide with a mini waterfall pouring into it. Normally, river water is COLD. This water was literally perfect! Brian went in first. There were spots where he couldn’t even touch the bottom! I really wanted in, but had left my swimming shorts at the car. I’ve swam in my bra (which looks like a swimsuit top anyway) and panties before. What the hell. Went to pull off my dress and realized I hadn’t worn a bra! I sat there, sulking, lamenting a society that lets Brian run around with his tits out but frowns upon me doing so. Fuck it. I’m going in. I had Brian do a quick check for incoming people, peeled off my dress, and slipped into the water. It was so nice. Like to die for so nice!! Especially after that long, sweaty hike! So far, this is my most favorite place in Dominica! I want it in my backyard!
Dominica Waterfall Tips:
If you want to do one waterfall, pick Trafalgar. If you want to do both, do Middleham first, then Trafalgar where it’s easy to swim and cool off after the massive hike to Middleham!
After we swam, we walked back to the car and headed back toward Hell No, Roseau- this time on a different back road than we came in on. It’s lovely back here. Lovely and peaceful with a great vibe! Got to town, and headed south toward our next stop of the day- Champagne Beach. This was a big tourist spot, so there were bound to be some restaurants! Um, nope. Not a one. We parked on the side of the road, grabbed our snorkel gear, and headed to the beach. A man was down there renting snorkel gear and such, and told us it was $5ecd per person to snorkel here (I was a little suspect about that….). We hadn’t brought money down, so he said we could pay after. He told us where to go- between the rocks for squid, and out to the white log for the bubbles. We walked down toward the big rocks, put our stuff on the beach, got our gear, and headed into the water. Oh my gosh!! There were so many little fish!! Tangs and damsels and butterflies and wrasses and huge schools of snapper and puffers and filefish!! And squid! We saw 8 baby squid!! A few corals, not many. Some beautiful sea fans. The water got deep fast, probably 15-20 feet, but the visibility was AMAZING, the water was warm and calm, and I wasn’t scared one bit! We got to the white log area, and bubbles were flowing up through the rocks. It was literally magical! Brian was using the GoPro for the first time, and got some decent shots for being a newbie! We learned how to better position the camera for next time, as it wasn’t seeing what Brian was seeing most of the time, so we missed capturing so many things. Snorkeled for over an hour and hated to get out. I highly recommend this beach for a wonderful snorkling adventure, perfect even for scardey cats like me! #yesiamamarinebiologist
It was a short drive up the road to our final destination of the day- Soufriere. We turned a corner, and there it was- wonderfully bright colored houses tucked into the side of the mountain! So charming! What wasn’t so charming was google maps, leading us down not one, not two, but THREE dead end windy narrow roads with no place to turn around, all while insisting it was not a dead end and was the way to our airbnb… Love-hate relationship with google maps, always.
Finally got the right road (thanks to the property manager, not google maps), and pulled into our Airbnb. We have been SO looking forward to this one!! I found it back in February and it was so gorgeous, so perfect, and so US, that I had to have it! But it was a 2 night minimum and we could only stay one. I asked the kind owner, Kathleen, to please accommodate us and she did! Never hurts to ask! And from the second we set foot inside, I didn’t want to ever leave. The gardens, the surrounding mountain walls, and the HOUSE! My god, this house! And only $68 a night! No wifi, but who cares!! I’ll let the pictures do the talking, because I’m at a loss for words…
As is par for the course in Dominica, we hadn’t had a meal in over 24 hours. We asked Ralf, the property manager, where a good place to eat was. He suggested Pinky’s Street Food, within walking distance of the house. We headed down there and met Pinky (I assume!), who had a little building with a counter, some shelves, and a bbq pit. It was literally a part of her house- no sign. We had passed it on the way and not even noticed it. We got two chicken, mac and cheese, scalloped potatoes, and salad dinners for $20ecd!! That’s $7.50US!! Walked back to our heaven house and O.M.G. Best meal we’ve had in Dominica, best meal I’ve had in the Caribbean period!! We both said we could have eaten another!
It was dark, out and a flash of light from outside caught my eye. Then another. FIREFLIES!! Magnificent, HUGE, neon green ones! Not the puny ones I’m used to seeing! These were so big they were like laser pointers, and the light even shined (shone? I dunno, I’m a science teacher, not English!) through the glass bottles! Again….just magical! It was the perfect ending to an absolutely perfect day. So yesterday, we were done with Dominica. We were ready to cut our trip short and just get the hell out of here before something else went wrong. Apparently, Dominica heard our despair…and her reply? “Sit down, bitch, and hold my beer.” Well played, Dominica. Well played indeed.