I fell in-love in Dominica. With my mosquito net.
I woke up my second morning with my room bathed in morning sunlight and shadows on my bed created by my mosquito net. I quickly noted to myself to find a way to install one back in my New York City apartment.
After a morning shower with a brown grasshopper, I walked to the yoga room at 7:30am and wished that it was this easy to commit to morning stretches back in my real life. In the restaurant an hour later, I had breakfast of eggs, fresh papaya, watermelon and star apple. These papayas were so soft and fleshy; the watermelon juice dripped onto my shirt; the star apple was actually sweet instead of sour. I felt so short-changed all of a sudden because fruits do not taste the same way in New York. I walked up to my room for my second shower of the day before joining the Victoria Falls tour with Ade and a family from Chicago. Mister Grasshopper had left for the day.
Carlos, the guide who will become my favorite throughout my stay, hauled ass driving to the falls. It was a quick drive and a short hike through an even more lush forest with four river crossings. I didn’t wear my hiking boots this time. I followed Ade’s lead and went barefoot most of the time to negotiate the slippery rocks. I used my hands to grab on to tree roots to hoist myself up. My camera was in a Ziploc held between my teeth. Good thing too that I wore my surf shorts instead of a heavier pair of hiking shorts–the water was waist-deep in two of the crossings.
It was beautiful in the forest. The morning light kept seeping in through the thick canopy of greens. (Reader beware: I will be talking a lot about morning light in these posts.) It was the perfect setting for someone on hallucinogenics–or so I’ve heard–or Avatar Part Two. It was so green and alive that even the moss on boulders were as soft and bright green as the best AstroTurf. Trees covered the surrounding cliff. They seemed to occupy every vertical space possible. My camera–any camera–couldn’t do the scenery any justice.
The gushing water of Victoria Falls reminded us that there is something bigger than life. The water power was so thunderous, we kept screaming at each other about how incredible it was without hearing one another. I was just in awe.
I slipped once but thankfully landed on my ass on a round rock. I held on as the wind power from the cascade tried to blow me away. I could not even swim past the rocks’ edges. The water was cool and refreshing and provided respite from the humidity. I tried very hard to keep my bathing suit on while traipsing.
On our way back to our truck, Carlos cut and skinned a stalk of sugar cane and we passed the pieces around to suck off its sweet juice. I picked and smelled several leaves of fresh lemongrass, wild thyme and rosemary. I was thinking of roasted pork tenderloin and lamb chops, but happily settled for a lunch of fish curry roti back at Jungle Bay Resort with a couple of their homemade ginger-lime iced teas poolside. I read my book in between hot naps and cool swims. I had the pool and the afternoon to myself, but it felt like I had the whole world.
I showered back in my room, chilled on the hammock with my book until it was time to join Nancy, Jai and Ade for a power walk up Paix Bouche hill. Nancy has been doing the walk everyday since she moved to Dominica three years ago and the entire staff shook their heads at me when they found out Nancy had convinced me to join her. (I came to tease her for being the crazy white lady who walks everywhere after also hearing the story that she once walked to the town of Rosseau which took her four hours.) No one could tell me how long of a walk it was, but it was no joke: the hill went up a 35-degree angle. The roti in my stomach felt like extra weight I had to carry; my achilles were throbbing. The walk was good for my calves even though they cried for help during my Swedish massage afterward. I ended up walking the hill with Nancy nine more times during my stay at Jungle Bay and I appreciated that I my afternoons were spent getting to know her during those walks.
For my second dinner with Sam’s family, I had the traditional Dominican platter of shredded cod and dried herring with fried plantains. It was one of the best appetizers I’ve ever had–a combination of sweet and salty all on one plate. (I would end up ordering this every time it showed up on the menu.) I barely had room for the grilled kingfish and vegetable rice after the bowl of hot seafood chowder. I was impressed at what Joanne and her kitchen staff were cooking up in the kitchen. For the rest of the night, I forgot about tenderloins and lamb chops.
I will end up forgetting a lot of regular life during this Dominican trip.