Journal entry for November 25 and 26, 2012
Approximate Distance/Time Hiked: 15.0 km, 7h 25m (not including detour to Grand Bay)
There is a gate at the start of Segment 2 going into Soufriere Sulfur Springs. This is one of the sites that require the Dominica National Pass. I told the guy at the gate that I passed through the house were they were sold but didn’t see anyone there. The passes are US$5 per site, or US$12 for a weekly one that gives you access to other sites I wanted to visit. The guy told me that I could just give him the US$5, and he will go later and buy it for me. Nice try. I went back to the house, knocked on the door and bought the weekly pass.
I skipped the hot springs since it was hot as hell. A teenager on a bicycle named Elvis came by and said hi. We chatted for a bit and pointed me to where the trail continued on. I found a water faucet (the first I’ve found since the start of the trail) and filled up my containers, not knowing when I’d find another water source.
The trail starts to go uphill. Since it’s the first day, I was not feeling very well physically. Soon a very light drizzle started to fall but, being deep in the forest, it barely hit me. I saw an empty Pizza Hut box, and dreamed of how nice it would be to eat a pizza. Even though I had just started the trail, I hadn’t been eating particularly well since arriving to the country. I soon came across one of the WNT shelters.
I also found some other peculiar trash by the trail.
I soon reached the small town of Tete Morne. There was a group of about 10 young guys just hanging out. They all stopped to look at me as I walked by. Despite being a little intimidated, I nodded at them and said “Hi”. They nodded back.
I soon found a place selling pizza! Just what I was craving for earlier on. A young lady came out of the store and told me that there was pepperoni pizza fresh out of the oven. I would have settled for cold pizza. I ended up getting three big slices at EC$5 each. The young owner’s name was Sharmane, and we had just opened Trois Chemen Boulangerie et Cafe. At the moment, she was only selling pizza, but she wanted to soon start selling drinks as well. I hope that her business can succeed since the small towns of Dominica are fairly undeveloped. You just don’t find many places like this. She also told me that there were no guesthouses in town, and that the closest place I could go was Grand Bay. But being a Sunday, the buses were not running. I needed to figure something out.
Further down the main road, I found a little store with free wi-fi. I stopped for a drink and updated the people back home with my progress. I decided to walk the 8 km or so of paved roads to Grand Bay to find accommodation.
I passed through another couple of small towns. A couple of friendly girls asked me about the hike and give me directions on how to get to Grand Bay. When I arrived there and walked down the main road to the coast, I had to pass through many more groups of dudes just “hanging out”. Unemployment is high and many of young people have no jobs, and thus, a lot of free time. Some of them said hi, some others tried to be funny in front of their friends and made stupid comments. Although I never felt physically threatened, I don’t think it would be a good idea for a girl do hike this alone.
The guidebook suggested the Hideout Guesthouse. After an endless walk, I was very disappointed to find out they had no rooms available. The couple who owned the place was super friendly and helpful. They called the owner of Campeche Guesthouse, who came to pick me up with his car. That was great because I was so tired of walking.
The guesthouse was nice and clean. I was the only one staying there. The owner doesn’t live there either. We agreed that his wife would come the following morning and cook breakfast for me for EC$10. I spend the rest of the night washing my clothes and watching some TV. I also realized that I had left the power converter I bought in Roseau at the guesthouse in Scotts Head. The following day I would need to make a return trip to Roseau to buy one, or else I wouldn’t be able to charge my phone and camera batteries.
The next morning, I had a breakfast of toast, scrambled eggs, avocado, beans and fruit. The owners of the guesthouse then drove me back to Tete Morne for EC$10. That saved me about 2 hours of walking. The plan was to hike to either Bellevue Chopin or Giraudel, and take a bus back to Roseau to spend the night.
I resumed the WNT at 9:45am. It started to rain right away. I took out my rain jacket and backpack cover and hiked in the light rain for an hour or so. I came across Morpo Junction after a while.
Here the trail splits into two. To the left is a more direct way to Bellevue Chopin, to the right is a slightly longer way going through the town of Pichelin. I chose the latter. I followed a paved road until I saw a large communications antenna, then the trail goes into the bush (as they call forest here). The incline/decline is steep at some points. I saw a lot of beautiful crabs.
The trail finally comes out of the forest into a basketball court in the village of Pichellin. I go down the main road and say hi to locals as I pass them.
I was supposed to make a left turn at some point, only to find out later that the sign indicating where to do this had been removed for some reason not long ago. I walked past this point for another 15 minutes until I realized by looking at my GPS app that something was wrong. After asking a few locals, I made my way back to the junction and resumed the trail, which became pretty steep. I had to make a few stops to catch my breath.
I came up to this fork, and took a left (which was correct). Not sure where going right would have taken me.
I chatted with a friendly local for quite a while. I was starting to really experience the friendliness of the people of Dominica.
At 2:30pm, I arrived at bus stop in Bellevue Chopin. This is where Segment 2 ends. I had hiked 12km in a little under 5 hours and didn’t feel like walking anymore. Just as I was boarding the minibus to Roseau, a guy at the bus stop tells me that I had left my hiking poles behind. That was a close one.
Once back in Roseau, I checked out the rooms at the slightly cheaper Bon Mache guesthouse. Since they didn’t impress me much, I decided to go back to Symes Zee’s, which is where I had stayed just a few days ago. They have a restaurant downstairs and I ordered a delicious chicken stew for EC$15. Did some grocery shopping afterwards. For the most part, I just bought cookies since I still couldn’t find any other suitable non-cook hiking food.
My feelings about Dominica and the WNT were still mixed. The trail was nice at some points but it wasn’t feeling ‘enjoyable’ to me. The hot humid weather made things uncomfortable. The people, however, were very friendly for the most part. I just had to ignore the 5-10% that were not friendly. It was not fair to have such high expectations for every person in any given country.