Journal entry for November 30, 2012
Approximate Distance/Time Hiked: 17.0 km in 6h 40m
Although light, the rain continued to fall all morning. I actually enjoy and find it refreshing to hike in this type of rain.
The trail follows the coastal road before making a turn into the bush close to the ocean. I missed the turn and walked to the town of Sineku until turned back and found the sign indicating a right turn off the road.
It was hard to find the steep and slippery trail at the beginning because of all the overgrown vegetation. I was now in the Kalinago Territory, which is a region on the east coast of Dominica mainly populated by the indigenous Kalinago people. The trail rejoins the road before the little village of Mahaut River.
I stopped at a snackette which I remembered seeing during the cab ride when I first arrived at the island. What had caught my attention about this place back then was the sign outside that said “Have a Delicious Meal”. I got a fried chicken leg and a boiled egg for EC$4. I got approached by two locals asking me for money (in a non-threatening way). I gave them EC$1 each. I enjoyed the meal here and chatting with the very nice lady who worked there. After a short break, I rejoined the road.
By then, the only reason I was wearing my waterproof jacket was to store my phone and camera inside the pockets to protect them from rain. Wearing a waterproof jacket in warm and humid weather can be unbearable though, as it traps your perspiration inside. I decided to just put all my electronics in my backpack along with the jacket, and just hike with a tshirt.
The road goes into the bush a second time. This section was much nicer than the previous one. Once back on the road, I walked for a while before stopping at a little store to get some cookies and a local carbonated drink.
I kept on walking and run into a lot of locals that looked at me with a more amused look than usual. People in Dominica were always surprised to see visitors outside of the typical tourist spots. Since there is not really a culture of hiking among the locals, it is hard for them to understand why someone would fly all the way to their country just to hike trails they’d rather not walk. As I kept walking on the road, I suddenly got that strange realization that I haven’t seen a trail marker for a while. I realized soon that I had missed another turn and the special amused came from people not used to seeing hikers, since I was off the WNT.
I turned around and some locals pointed me a shortcut to rejoin the trail. I’m usually a strict completionist, meaning that I don’t want to miss any part of a trail, but I decided to take this shortcut instead. Doing this saved me about 1 hour. This was a long day and I didn’t have the luxury of time.
I arrived at the Kalinago Barana Aute, which means “Kalinago village by the sea”. It has many static exhibits showcasing how the Kalinago people used to live in times past. The WNT passes right through the village.
The trail makes a short steep climb going out of the village before rejoining the road again. I run into a guy who offered me fresh coconut juice for EC$2. After I accepted, he went back into house, came back out with a machete, went into the bush nearby, and within a minute came out with 2 coconuts. He gave me two instead of one, and cracked them open for me. I think this is the first time I ever had fresh coconut juice, and to be honest, it wasn’t anything special. I ingested so much liquid so fast that I felt super stuffed.
The next section goes into the deep bush. I starts to go downhill as it slowly approaches the end of the segment at Hatton Garden.
I decided to film a long video while hiking.
Fast forward to 1:35 of the video to the part where I slipped and fell. Fast forward to 7:05 to the point where I reach the Pagua River and encounter a few tourists tubing down the water.
When I finally reached Hatton Garden, I had hiked a total of 22 km for the day. The bus to Marigot stops right at the end of the segment. While I stood there for a while waiting for the bus to arrive, an older lady came by and we had a great chat. I told her I was planning on staying at My Father’s Place guesthouse, and she told me she knew exactly where it was, and that she would let me know where to get off the bus. Another example of how friendly most people in Dominica are.
Once on the bus, I remember very vividly enjoying the scenery outside the window, the music playing, the little girl behind me singing along, and the helpful lady sitting next to me. The same shops on the sides of the road that looked rundown and foreign during the cab ride after arriving a week ago now seemed beautiful and familiar. I smiled and realized that I was liking Dominica more and more with each passing day.
Nobody came to open the gate when I arrived at My Father’s Place Guesthouse in Marigot and rang the doorbell. I was able to get a very weak wi-fi signal and was able to use Skype to call Ian, the owner of the place. He came out and opened the door for me. Ian’s full name is Ian Africa. How awesome of a name is that? He lives by himself in this large complex with a few detached units that are used as guesthouses.
The room was supposed to be for one person at EC$50, but I think he ended up giving me a larger room since it was like a small apartment with separate bedroom, living room, and kitchen. There was nobody else staying at the guesthouse that night. Ian let me settle in and we agreed to walk into town to buy some food for dinner.
We got some local food to go and brought it back to his terrace to eat. We had a nice chat about the history of Dominica and international affairs/politics in general. He is a very smart guy and told me that he read every book he could get a hold off, but to my amazement, he didn’t know how to use the internet. For a guy who seeks knowledge all the time, his life will change the day he discovers it.
It had been a long but enjoyable day of hiking for me. I liked the segment and its mixture of road and bush hiking. Visiting the Kalinago Territory was also a nice change of pace.