Sunday, June 5, 2016

Bwa Nef Waterfall Hike

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the long hike our school undertook, known as a “Belle Marche.” Our intended destination was Brandy Falls, but we never quite found the waterfall. However, we still enjoyed ourselves, as described in that story.

There is another waterfall that is ostensibly within walking distance of our village, albeit a long hike in the opposite direction. I orchestrated a “Belle Marche” of my own to go see the Bwa Nef Waterfall, located north of our village.

I told students that I would pay for a bus driver to take us from our village to the trail head about five miles away, thus saving some energy for us. I made rules that only older children could go, that they had to be at the bus stop by 9:00 if they were going, and that they must bring a supply of water and some lunch (I still ended up sharing most of my lunch with them, trying and failing once again to perform the “Jesus feeds the multitudes” trick that I wrote about near the end of this story).

I ended up with nineteen children joining me for this day hike. I sat up front with the driver while they jammed into the back of the van, and soon we arrived at the trail head. Twenty of us hopped out of the van, took the group picture shown above, and then proceeded up the scenic pathway.
The trail follows the course of a river (Americans would call it a creek) up the hill toward the interior of the island. There were numerous places where you had to cross from one side of the creek to the other in order to follow the trail (providing lots of places for kids to splash and get wet feet). You also had to cross over a large fallen tree that had blocked the path. Eventually, we reached our destination. I was bringing up the rear of the group, while some older students were leading the way. The picture below shows some of the faster students walking out of the entrance, as the back end of our group arrived.
It was unlike any waterfall I had ever seen before. Our uphill climb had led us to what Americans in the southwestern United States might call a box canyon, or perhaps a slot canyon. A slim opening, with steep vertical walls on both sides, led to a back wall with the creek cascading down from probably a hundred feet above. The splashing of the water reverberated against the rock walls—soon to be joined by the loud yelling of my 19 students echoing within this deep, narrow canyon. The picture below was my attempt at a vertical panoramic picture, because it was too high to fit everything into one picture frame.
To make things even more interesting, there was a huge boulder that was precariously balanced across the gap of the canyon far above (I had heard about this unusual feature when I was planning our trip). I just hoped that the “sonic powers” of my loud students would not disturb the boulder, causing it to fall from its longstanding perch. There appeared to be a second boulder straddling the gap where the waterfall began, because something seemed dark above where the water started falling. But that was not nearly as concerning as the solitary rock which has hung atop the canyon for countless years.
The students were a bit cautious at first, given the darkness (a deep narrow canyon with a slim opening doesn't let much light in), the black rock walls, the noise, and that looming boulder high above them. Some of them mentioned that it seemed like the sort of place that a secoya would live (secoyas are evil spirits that live in the bush). However, eventually some of them wanted to get in the water and swim to the back wall. [The picture below shows the view looking out from the canyon.]
They had a great time splashing about in the water, and “showering” under the waterfall. Some had never before enjoyed that unique feeling of a waterfall beating down upon you. They were having such a good time (having forgotten about all the scary aspects of this place) that I ended up joining them. The picture below makes me appear very white—I think this is because my camera was trying to overcompensate for the lack of light in this strange but beautiful waterfall.
After we had all had our fun there, we hiked back down the ravine to the main road. Thus began our road hike back to our village, along a roadway with many scenic views (as well as a few wild mango trees, where the kids would stop to gather fallen fruits). The picture below shows a view down the coast towards what became our next destination. It was taken from an overlook that included a picnic table with a roof over it.
The rocky point shown in the picture above is known as Au Tout (pronounced “oh two”). It was one of the sites used in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie that was filmed here.
This view shown above was taken from Au Tout looking up at where we first saw this peninsula jutting out into the ocean. I added a red arrow in the sky—if you look close, you can see the small picnic shelter roof. This also gives you a sense of how far we had walked during just that one segment of our hike.
This rocky peninsula provided lots of fun for the students as we explored all around this area. We watched the powerful waves crash against the rocks, both from higher vantage points (shown above) as well as down near sea level (shown below).
They also enjoyed doing some rock-climbing at Au Tout.
After spending a good deal of time exploring Au Tout, our next stop was the Au Parc swimming area further down the coast (but I didn't get my camera out while I was there). We hiked the hillside there and then swam in the ocean. The government has tried to make this into a water recreation area by creating a rock wall to thwart the strong waves. However, I think it ends up just making a protected area for coconuts, trash, and driftwood to accumulate behind. It is hard for mankind to control Mother Nature! We soon decided that the beach in our village was much better.
Thus, our beach became our final destination. As we neared our village, our original bus driver came upon us and decided to give us a free lift the rest of the way back home. We made it back to the village and finished the day swimming and playing on our own beautiful beach (the picture above of me with some of the students was actually taken at Au Tout—you've already seen plenty of pictures of our beach in this blog). While it is good to get out, get some exercise, and see the countryside (and nearly all of these children had never been to Bwa Nef or Au Tout), it is always great to come back to home, sweet home!

No comments:

Post a Comment