I planned my visit to Dominica to cover three different areas so as to experience the varied scenery and atmosphere of the coastal towns as well as the rain forest. By this time, I was feeling much more comfortable with Dominican driving, but still wanted to get an early start to allow plenty of time to cross over the island, as road signs are practically non-existent.
I had planned to stop by the Emerald Pool along the way, located in the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but my early morning start put me there much earlier than I had anticipated – even earlier than the ticket attendant. Instead of locked gates at the entryway, however, the entrance to the pool was wide open, allowing me to walk right in. This afforded me an hour-long blissful swim in this pristine waterfall, all alone. It was one of many such “not to be believed” moments that I would have on this enchanted island.
The island crossover would also take me through Roseau, the largest city in Dominica, so I stopped to have a look around, do some shopping, and have lunch at the famous “Pearl’s Kitchen,” where I enjoyed a lunch of stewed fish creole, provisions, and fresh squeezed grapefruit juice.
Roseau was the only place on the island where I would really feel the oppressive tropical heat, as the sun was baking and there were no tropical breezes.
So after a few hours of looking around, I was eager to arrive at the beautiful, serene Papillote Wilderness Retreat, just 20 minutes outside of Roseau, but veritable “garden of Eden” paradise away.
I struggle for words to describe Papillote, as any aspect would be enough to enjoy, whether it be the open air dining room overlooking the steep lush green valley below, the deliciously prepared meals with an array of fresh vegetables, the beautifully landscaped gardens full of tree ferns and exotic tropical plants, the dozens of hummingbirds feeding around the bird viewing house, or the side by side cold and hot mineral pools next to a waterfall. But the sum of these parts made for an indescribably magical experience that I hope I never forget.
My favorite afternoon treat was to stop by the bar for a lethal rum punch “to go” as I headed down to the soaking pools, alternating between the warm, mineral-rich bath from warm river to the brisk cold plunge coming straight from the waterfall until I was comfortably numb…