Friday, January 6, 2017

Sari Sari Falls

We are on the island of Dominica, which is one our favorite places to hike.  This is a truly beautiful and largely untouched place.  It is extremely mountainous, with hardly any flat land to support agriculture.  It is said that Dominica has 365 rivers, and I believe it.  Many of these rivers have exquisite waterfalls.

Some really beautiful waterfalls are spoiled by hordes of cruise ship passengers.  Others, though, are hard enough to get to that casual visitors never see them.  A few years ago we visited Victoria Falls.  To get there, you have to wade through 5 river crossings, and scramble up big boulders.  This year we opted to hike to Sari Sari falls.  We were joined by fellow cruisers Craig and Bobbi, who we had just met the prior day, and by our guide Jones Younis.

The guidebook describes this hike as moderate, but that was before tropical storms washed out the main path.  Now you have to take an alternate, and very challenging route up the riverbed.  I think I counted six river crossings, but I may have missed one.  This photo gives you a sense of the boulders we had to scramble over:

We climbed up the riverbed for about an hour and a quarter, often out of breath and always very careful of our footing.  We encountered an older woman who had fallen off a narrow section of the trail.  We gathered she had broken her wrist, and Jones told us that she was taken out on a stretcher.  Reason to be careful!

Our self-confidence grew as we went along, and the many places where you had to stretch awkwardly for the next foothold seemed a little less daunting.

In the end, it was worth it.  This is among the best waterfalls we have visited in the Caribbean.  Here's a photo and a video showing what we saw:

It only took us an hour to walk back.  Downhill is not easier, but we were more familiar with the terrain.

After the hike, we went to have lunch with an acquaintance, Moses James.  Moses is an old Rastafarian (almost as old as me), and we met him for the first time when we visited Victoria Falls.  He has an establishment called Zion Valley at the trailhead.  When we were first there, there was just his "Rastaraunt" and beautiful fruit and vegetable garden.  Since then he has expanded, and offers some very rustic rooms to rent.  His sons are doing the cooking now, but he appears to have trained them well.

Rastas are vegetarians, but they still can make a hearty stew.  Ours had lentils, breadfruit, yams, plantains, potatoes, Callaloo, and Moses' secret mixture of spices.  Absolutely delicious, and when seconds were offered I gratefully accepted.  As often happens with Rastas, we heard some perspective on philosophy, and some fascinating history of how Moses grew up in the country, tried city life, and returned to the land.  His holding has a world-class view of the confluence of two rivers, and is completely beautiful. If you want to stay there, here's the Airbnb listing:
Zion Valley

The taxi ride to and from the trailhead showed us just how much Dominica's infrastructure has suffered from recent tropical storms.  Our route was about twice as long, because the direct route was washed out.  There was a great deal of rebuilding work along the alternate route, and a couple of pretty sketchy temporary bridges.  We hope they can get things put back in order soon.

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