Thursday, January 7, 2016

La Soose

One of the many interesting things about my village is “The Spring.” It is also known locally by those who speak patois (a local language sometimes referred to as creole or kweyol) as “La Source” (I'm guessing that is the correct spelling, but it ends up pronounced as “La Soose”).
The spring itself is about halfway up the mountain behind our coastal village. The water issues forth from a crack in the rocks, as shown above. A small cement retaining wall was built around the spring, and a long pipeline was installed to bring the clear, fresh water down to a spigot along the road, where villagers and visitors alike can easily fill their water jugs for free (and folks from far and wide come to get our renowned spring water). This natural resource proved instrumental in our coping with Tropical Storm Erika.
Look close and you can see the pipeline to the right side of the trail. Also notice a villager down below who happened to come around the bend in the path just as this picture was taken.
Even though we now have public water, I have chosen to continue drawing water from the spring to use for my drinking water. The Peace Corps provides us with a fancy water filtration system, which uses ceramic and charcoal filters to clean our drinking water, so please don't worry about my safety. I enjoy walking up the hill to get the water I drink!

I feel fortunate that in my village, I get to experience a beautiful ocean beach as well as a mountain forest. Walking to the spring reminds me very much of my home state of West Virginia. A trail just off the road leads into the woods and up the narrow valley of a small creek. The dappled sunlight, the lush greenery, the melody of a bubbling creek, the rocks along the trail, etc., are very reminiscent of West Virginia.

I'll never forget the first time my host sister brought me to the spring shortly after my arrival. On that hot August day, you could feel a trace of cool mountain air flowing down the forested valley. I fell in love with it! Even before we reached the spring, I stopped her because I had to take a picture (shown below) of these woods that reminded me so much of my home.

However, the vegetation is very different. Palm trees, cacoa trees (whose seeds eventually are processed into chocolate), and breadfruit trees aren't found growing wild in my home state. The thick buttress roots that cross the path (at least until villagers with machetes hacked away at them to eliminate this blockage) are reminders that we are actually in a tropical jungle.

Lizards frequently scurry across the path as well—and yes, Little Orphan Annie, they can indeed leap!

There is more at the spring than just the small catch basin around it and the long pipe to the road. The village has constructed a large pool that can be plugged up and used for swimming once it is filled (Jed Clampett would probably call it the cement fishing pond). A shaded bench area was built alongside the pool, as shown below. This enables them to host pool parties at La Soose. It's a unique experience to be swimming in a cement pool in the middle of the jungle!
A couple of my students couldn't wait until the pool was completely filled up before they started swimming.
An open shower facility was also installed at the site. I first used the shower at La Soose during the days following Tropical Storm Erika when the public water system went down. However, it became my daily ritual after teaching in a hot school to come home, change into my swim trunks, and head up to the spring to rinse off the sweat under this cold shower of mountain spring water. It may have been cold at first, but as soon as your body gets acclimated to it, that cold shower felt very nice! The locals refer to such afternoon showers as a “wet up.” My daily wet up helped to punctuate the transition from the school day to my own time.
During Dominica's Community Service Day (the day after their Independence Day) in early November, our village hosted two different service activities. One was a beach clean-up effort, while the other was a “sprucing up” of the spring area (shown above). Many citizens turned out to make a variety of improvements at our “municipal swimming pool.” It really says something about the community spirit of my village that this facility was built for the benefit of all, and continues to be maintained.
Thus, I feel very fortunate that I can enjoy the beach on one end of my village, and yet also enjoy a mountain forest spring that is somewhat similar to my home state of West Virginia by heading up the trail along the creek to take advantage of this nice facility. I feel I have the best of both worlds in my village!
This is the pipeline spigot at the road. The long faded words painted on the wall read as follows: "Fresh Spr-
ing Water." Further below it reads "Welfare for one, welfare for all" (welfare in this case is a positive description, and should not be confused with the negative connotations that Americans too often associate with this word).


  1. Once again, you've captured the "glass half FULL", if not overflowing! Thank you for that.

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