There are a routine number of activities that are common among the locals on the weekends: Saturdays involve time in the garden, going to the market and washing clothes; Sundays are about going to church, eating a big lunch and taking a long nap. And when time allows, you fill find them hiking forest trails, swimming in the river or relaxing on the beach.
For me personally, I just spent a whole week lining up appointments, creating surveys, making phone calls, sending emails, popping in to government office buildings, connecting with tourism organizations and networking with people on the island for the development of my capstone internship project. So to get a little down time over the weekend has been a real joy. On Saturday I participated in an amazing ecotourism adventure called Hike Fest, which I will write about in another blog. So let me tell you what I did today.
Today is Sunday. After attending a local church service filled with island style music, dancing, special artistic presentations by the youth and some powerful preaching, I decided to hike into the jungle forest to try and find that cocoa fruit that I had promised to show you guys. As I made my way to the trail head I could smell the lemon grass that had recently been cut and all the evidence of a tropical island was around me. The Caribbean Sea was shimmering in the distance. Village streets were lined with trees adorned by mangos, bananas, kokoi-plantains, limes, soursop, breadfruit and pawpaws (papayas). I passed three kinds of nut trees too – coconut, almonds and cashews. (I try to avoid the cashew tree even though it has a tasty plum; I’ve learned the hard way that tampering too much with a raw cashew nut can cause a severe allergic reaction.) Moving on.
As I entered the trail I was greeted by five baby goats that were leaping on and off of a large stone – cute and curious. The trail meandered along a river which created the soundtrack for my afternoon trek. I found several guava trees along the trail but the fruit was still green; so I helped myself to some of the young red leaves to make into a delicious tea later on. I located some cocoa (cacao) trees but most of the fruit that remained had already dried up. Finally I found a ripe one, but it was so high up I couldn’t get to it. I started to climb the tree, but I had to step on a termite mound… so I changed my mind. I threw a couple of rocks at the cocoa even making a direct hit but that thing was not coming down.
I decided to walk further up the mountain trail toward one of the Waitikubuli entry points (the Waitikubuli is the longest hiking trail in the Caribbean). This segment of the trail has a primitive but adventurous swinging bridge like a scene right out of a movie. Passion Flowers, Flamboyant Trees and wild Caribbean Orchids gave color to the green landscape. Bananaquit birds were chirping loudly all around me, Green Throated Carib Hummingbirds buzzed by quickly then darted into the trees and two Jaco Parrots squawked overhead. At last I found more chocolate trees and one of them was ripe and in reach. Hooray!
The walk back home was just as nice and natural as the walk up the trail and it concluded with a not as natural dip in the swimming pool, but hey, I’m not complaining. Come discover Dominica for yourself.
Cocoa (Cacao) Fruit