I awoke to the peaceful chorus of hundreds of forest birds. It was a blessed relief to see sunlight filtering through the wooden slatted doors of our eco-villa. Morning at last!
What a night it had been. The hugest moth in the world had tried to force its way through our mosquito net and given me the shock of my life. This just confirms my moth phobia is not completely irrational – they really are crazy!
Today we would be leaving our beautiful eco-villa in the middle of the jungle. I was grateful I made the most of my time here by immersing myself within the natural surroundings the previous day.
Yesterday I hadn’t felt ready to leave this paradise. But after my encounter with the moth of nightmares, I now felt excited for the next stage of our journey.
At the communal villa, Melissa had cooked up a delicious breakfast for us. Bacon and eggs. It felt like the perfect scene was unfolding as Lewis and I sat at the breakfast table on wooden decking, looking out over the river and jungle in front of us whilst eating a delightful breakfast and sipping on tea.
Despite the moth, I was still going to miss this place. Our hosts, Melissa and Andy, had made us extremely welcome and there was something so special about the location of these eco-villas, completely off the beaten track, in the middle of the forest.
After breakfast we had a moment to gather our things before we met Andy by his pickup truck. The long journey back to civilisation was about to begin.
I opted to stand in the back of the pickup for the return journey. Because, why not?
The sun shone down over the valley and warmed my skin as I stood in the back of the silver pickup with my hands gripping the surrounding railings. It was going to be a fun drive!
It felt liberating to be standing on the back of the truck as it bumped and juddered down the jungle trail that lay before us. I watched as the overhanging bushes hugged the side of the vehicle and occasionally had to duck to avoid being taken out by a branch or vine.
I took in my final glimpse of the beautiful valley. I could just make out the river behind a row of palms in the distance and beyond that a majestic jungle-coated mountain.
I recognised the field where we had gone searching for coconuts with Jerry and smiled as I laid eyes on the juicy orange coconuts which sat high up in the palm trees that dotted the field.
I was certainly leaving with some fond memories.
Eventually we reached the end of the road beside one of the great rivers. Our pickup truck splashed into the shallow edges of the river as it turned itself around. Then it was time to get off.
I was pleased to see that the river was a lot lower than it had been when we’d first arrived. This meant it would be easy for Lewis to cross. I took in the view of the sparkling cyan water which almost looked peaceful as the sunlight reflected from its cool surface.
Our luggage was hauled into the hanging basket which was going to take it across the river. I watched as one of the lodge’s staff members pulled on some rope which hoisted the bundle across the body of water, all the way to the bank on the opposite side via its own personal zipline.
Lewis began to cross the river. The water was barely lapping at his ankles as he walked across the submerged road.
It was my turn to take the zipline which would take me across the river. Andy ventured across first and then it was time to clip myself in and swing.
On the other side of the river, we found ourselves trekking through the muddy field which now was anything but muddy. With the sun beating down and lighting up our surroundings, the field had a completely different feel. It no longer seemed scary but comforting.
The gushing sound of fresh water entered my ears as we reached the second river, the largest of the two.
The zipline platform here was incredibly high up as the bank on this side of the river was pretty steep. I stood on the platform and surveyed my surroundings. Far below me I could see our bags going into their second hanging basket of the day and further upriver Lewis was clipping himself into the low rope line that would support him as he waded through the water.
The river was undoubtedly lower than when we arrived but it still looked huge and powerful.
I took a deep breath and ziplined across.
It was a relief to be safely over the two rivers – not for my sake but for Lewis’. He had been so concerned for the past 24 hours, wondering if the water levels would be too high for him to be able to cross. Thankfully, for the first time since arriving in the Caribbean, luck seemed to be on our side and he had an easy and enjoyable time crossing the rivers.
I stood on the boulders that jutted out towards the river, waiting as Lewis drew ever closer. He wobbled as he took another slow step forwards, the icy water lapping against his legs. One more step and he was safely across, smiling at me in satisfaction.
Together we climbed the steep riverbank with our bags and made our way to our car.
We waved goodbye to Andy and his team. Goodbyes are always bittersweet.
Staying here had been an adventure, one that pushed both Lewis and I far outside of our comfort zones. But I was glad we had this experience. I feel like it helped us to grow as people. We started up our car and began to drive away.
Our black 4×4 pushed through the thick undergrowth which reached out over the raggedy trail. Sunlight filtered down in dappled streaks through the thick canopy above us. Out of my window I glanced at a looming cliff face, covered with dense foliage, which stood in the near distance. I nearly gasped in awe when I noticed from a gaping cave carved high into the mountainside, a stream of water cascaded down a vertical drop. It was magical!
I was surprised when we reached the river crossing. It seemed to appear far quicker than I remembered. Perhaps Lewis was accustomed to driving down narrow jungle trails at this point.
Confident from tackling the crossing once before, Lewis put on a burst of speed and we splashed through the great stream and easily reached the other side.
We climbed up the tumbled path, skidding on small stones and narrowly missing ominous craters in the road.
Before we knew it, we had reached the end of the trail and the smooth tarred road appeared before us. We couldn’t help but smile, knowing we were well on our way to our next destination.
Our destination was a small coastal town called Calibishie, situated in the north east of Dominica. We were travelled from the outskirts of a town called Rosalie.
Although Rosalie is also on the west coast, the only way to travel between the two is to journey inland and from there you can either take a route which ventures even deeper into the heart of the island or take a turn which leads you on a journey up Dominica’s coastline. We opted for the latter.
The journey was estimated to take an hour and a half.
I felt grateful to be back on the road. There’s something exhilarating about travelling down a road you’ve never laid eyes on before and absorbing brand new surroundings.
I never got tired of the magnificent peaks which dominated the landscape, dressed in thick rainforests.
Our elevation was changing constantly as we hugged mountainsides before descending into lush valleys and over rivers. The cycle would repeat itself as we would start to ascend another mountain, winding round countless hairpins as we slowly got higher and higher.
After around half an hour of conquering the hilly interior of Dominica, I caught a glimpse of the pristine blue ocean on the horizon.
Even as we entered the coastal village of Castle Bruce, the terrain was incredibly mountainous and the road hovered high above the beautiful bay that lay below, lined with a quiet black sand beach. At the edge of the beach I spotted several islets covered in dark green foliage.
From Castle Bruce we hugged the coastline and ventured up north. For a while our view of the navy ocean was from hundreds of metres up with steep cliffs dropping down to our right.
The coastal regions of Dominica looked to be more heavily populated and we found ourselves passing frequent settlements and small villages which consisted of a colourful array of houses and stores.
Eventually, the road started to descend from the great coastal cliffs and we found ourselves enfolded by a swatch of palms. I could just make out the ocean and a beautiful beach between the tall bases of palm trees.
We crossed over a gurgling river which fed into the ocean before the road travelled towards the beach.
I listed to the crashing of waves as we travelled parallel to the ocean, the deserted black sand beach only a few metres from our vehicle.
My stomach was rumbling as we approached a boutique hotel and restaurant which was situated across the road from the beach. This was ‘Pagua Bay House’ and had been recommended to us by our previous hosts back in Rosalie.
We parked up and began to walk across the quiet gardens to Pagua Bay House’s Bar and Grill. There we were greeted by a friendly Spanish waitress who showed us to our table overlooking the hotel’s infinity pool.
The view from the restaurant was gorgeous. Before us was a turquoise infinity pool which overlooked the wild beachfront. Large waves lapped rhythmically against the shore, their song loud and soothing. At the edge of the beach were great hillocks covered in trees.
The menu was delicious. After not having much meat for a couple of days, I was itching to eat a good meaty dish and so we ordered some local pork ribs which had been slow-cooked for 72 hours. They did not disappoint. The meet was practically falling off the bone and was full of so much flavour.
I was even more delighted when I heard a little mew from beside me. I turned to see a lithe tabby cat sitting by our table and my eyes lit up in excitement. Of course, I couldn’t resist smothering the cat with strokes which it seemed to love!
Views, good food and cats – Pagua Bay House really had it all.
It was time to embark on the last leg of the journey which my sat-nav told me would take just under thirty minutes. However, just as we trundled back onto the main road, dark skies gathered above, devouring the island in its shadows. Then came the rain.
An endless cascade of rain bucketed down around us, obscuring our vision and gathering in slippery puddles on the winding road. Our wipers beat frantically but even at full speed they couldn’t keep up with the rain.
The hairpin bends were even more dangerous and we were forced to slow our speed quite dramatically.
The final segment of our journey took us through even more coastal villages with beautiful beaches. It also took us round Douglas-Charles airport and we found ourselves hugging the border to the runway.
We drove past banana plantations and through fields where a couple of cows were tethered in the distance.
We saw numerous beaches and ascended and descended countless cliffs, some giving us a gorgeous view of the coves below and the steep orange cliff faces which surrounded them.
Finally, after a 50 minute drive as opposed to the estimated half an hour, we turned right off the main road and onto a sandy track. By now the rain had stopped and sunlight was already peering through the clouds and bathing the road in warm light.
Villas and houses of various colours sizes lined the trail, separated by low mesh fencing and numerous palm trees. I noticed a single goat tethered beside the road.
After a couple of minutes of trundling along the path I saw the sign to our accommodation and smiled.
We had arrived at our final destination for the trip.