I went for a walk from Capuchin to Delaford and back yesterday. Hiking buffs will recognise this as National Trail segment 13 – though the track was here long before, linking villages and estates along the top end. One of the main reasons for going was to see the remnants of Grand Fond, a settlement that existed around a coffee estate in the 19th century. I had seen a photo of the National Trail project team standing by a rather grand sign marking the spot where the estate had been, and assumed some work must have been done to clear and expose the ruins. Sadly, and to my great disappointment, the sign, next to a small stone wall, was all there was to see. I had passed through this spot on several occasions before, so I knew about it, but had been eager to see more. Oh well.
But it was a glorious day. Near Delaford the views across the Guadeloupe Channel were stunning. It was so clear that not only could we see The Saints, Guadeloupe and Marie-Galante, we could even make out houses and gardens on them. It whetted my appetite to travel to them and explore.
There are plenty of interesting features on this trail – for starters it’s the location of the only petroglyphs discovered on Dominica (it has long been my ambition to seek and discover more of them – and one day I’m convinced I will). There’s the cloudy Taffia River with it’s cascade and waterfall (cloudy because of volcanic clays, named taffia after the French word for fermented cane juice – thanks Lennox!), vertiginous farmlands where people grow ground provisions on what are tantamount to cliff sides, and the strong feeling of remoteness and antiquity that are inherent in this place – as if it’s somehow been frozen in time. And every local person I have ever met here, without exception, has been genuinely friendly, open and and kind. It’s a lovely part of the island and one I aim to explore further.
As for a trail update: it’s the same as the book, no changes. Just be careful in some sections of the trail where it’s narrow, steep and crumbly under foot.
This morning I went to one of our local merchants to buy some wood. I needed two lengths of 2x8x16 treated pitch pine boards, cut into two halves of eight feet, plus twelve lengths of 1x6x16 tongue and groove treated pitch pine boards, also cut into two halves of eight feet.
I placed my order with the cashier. Everything was in stock. It would cost around EC$700.
“How much to deliver it to Canefield ?” I asked.
“No deliveries,” she replied.
“Oh, why’s that ? I can’t transport all that wood on my roof rack.”
“Oh. But it doesn’t have to be today; it can be any time later on this week.”
“No. No drivers,” she repeated. “Go and see Miranda, the supervisor.”
“Oh. Ok then.”
As I walked across to the cement shed where, it was rumoured, I might find Miranda, I thought about how easy life used to be. Drive ten minutes to B&Q, buy what you need, drive home.
I found Miranda and told her what I wanted.
“Are you going to be home today ?” she asked.
“Yes, I can be.”
“Ok, go pay for it. I’ll organise for it to be delivered.”
“Really ? Wow, thank you. What’s the delivery charge ?”
“Really ? You sure ?” I asked, wanting to give her a hug and a kiss.
“Yes,” she smiled. “Just save me your blessings.”
Ten minutes later I arrived home. Twenty minutes after that a truck arrived with my wood.
Beat that B&Q.
Another afternoon off. This time we walked the Glassy trail at Boetica. I’d forgotten how pleasant it was. Along the way we were able to identify bay and cinnamon trees, jumbie bead (abrus precatorius), rosalba (clerodendron phillipinum), and black stick (pachystachys coccinea). The volcanic landscape and salt water pools are unusual and very photogenic. They were teeming with life – juvenile sergeant majors, surgeon fish, lizard fish, wrasse and a variety of molluscs and nudibranches. Just as I slipped into one, a tour guide turned up with a dozen or so tourists in toe and declared the pool I was in stagnant and unfit for bathing. Instead, he made them all take it in turns to take a dip in the smallest one, located closest to a very calm ocean. “Don’t turn your back on the sea !” he yelled at them as if reprimanding children. They all looked rather fed up and Celia gave me those ‘leave it, don’t say anything to him’ eyes. I had come across this particular guide before and witnessed him lording it up and talking complete nonsense. There’s a fine line between claiming to be an expert and looking a fool.
After a pleasant walk and a refreshing dip in a ‘stagnant’ yet remarkably lively salt water pool, we called in at Aunty Joan’s house in Delices where, as usual, I lost myself in her wonderful garden. I chopped a coconut and drank the water, then eventually managed to tear myself away, leaving with an armful of cuttings, a pumpkin and, of course, God’s blessings.
Glassy reminds me a little of the Owia Salt Ponds on the north coast of St Vincent. Owia is much larger and certainly more spectacular than Glassy but I do like our own little pools. Here’s a photo I took of Owia when I was last there in 2009.
Just learned that the Giraudel Flower Show is back again. Anyone interested should head up to the flower village on Sunday 19 May.
With house-building beginning to take its toll, I thought a well-earned break away from it all would do us the world of good. After fixing our broken-down car, we finally managed to get up to the Cabrits and Purple Turtle Beach. It was good to catch up with the the fabulous restoration work that’s going on at Fort Shirley.
Though a stiff easterly was whipping across Prince Rupert Bay, the afternoon was hot and sunny and soon we began to bake. The restoration was impressive, the park lands peaceful and still. At Purple Turtle we ate a late lunch and bathed. It was a sultry afternoon. An armada of private sailing boats bobbed in the bay, their owners occasionally slipping into the sea for a cool down. On the beach no-one stirred and we dozed a while.