Sunday, July 17, 2016

Capuchin and Cliffs

One of the interesting sights I noticed on my recent flight to Dominica was the cliffs along the northern coast. They form nearly a straight line, with a steep drop-off into the waters separating Dominica from the French island of Guadeloupe. This view below from the airplane was my first glimpse of this rugged terrain.
Yesterday was “market day” for me. Generally, on one Saturday a month, I ride a bus to the second largest city of Portsmouth to shop at the marketplace (yesterday's haul included pineapples, oranges, potatoes, avocados, kenips, cassava bread, etc.). Often I finish my shopping and then visit with the Peace Corps Volunteer who works at a school in Portsmouth. Her situation is a lot different from mine, working in a larger school and living in an urban setting. [Personally, while there are advantages to both locations, I think I got lucky and received the better assignment.]

For yesterday's visit, I expressed an interest in exploring the northern end of the island. There is a bus route from Portsmouth to the village of Capuchin, on the northwestern edge of Dominica. Capuchin got its name because at one time, a group of Capuchin monks established a settlement there. While the monks eventually left, their name became attached to the village. By the way, Capuchin monks wear simple brown robes with hoods—the brown color is why the coffee and milk drink that is popular today is called “cappuccino” (not that I drink it). Some of you might also be aware of Capuchin monkeys, which were also named after this Catholic order.

We walked back to the marketplace and quickly caught a bus headed that direction. The small road winds through communities such as Toucari and Clifton, eventually ending at Cannor Park on the far side of Capuchin. The remains of the British soldiers' barracks have been recently restored, and a lone cannon (shown above) looks across toward the island of Guadeloupe. The historical marker shown below tells about the important naval battle between the British and the French in this strait between the island nations. [Clicking on the picture makes it larger, if you are interested in reading the sign.]
This sign also tells about the Waitukubuli Trail, which runs from Scotts Head in the south to Cabrits National Park in the north. It is the longest hiking trail in the Caribbean. The name Waitukubuli comes from the original name for this island—before Christopher Columbus arrived on a Sunday (which led him to call it Dominica, the Latin name for Sunday). Waitukubuli means “tall is her body” which refers to the high mountains here that are readily visible to anyone approaching the island.

We took a hike on the trail in order to see some of those tall cliffs on the north coast. It was fun hiking through the woods. There was a nice creek that bordered the trail for awhile. Once we crossed it and climbed the hill, we were eventually where the cliffs begin. Below is a picture of the breathtaking view. It was impossible for me to capture the top of the mountain and still show the coastline.

It wasn't a long hike, but it certainly was interesting. Just as a small bonus for you nature lovers, here is a picture of a monarch butterfly I watched as we hiked back.
I'm glad I got to see the northwestern area of this island. It is very nice there, but perhaps I'm biased—I wouldn't want to trade my village for anywhere else on this island!

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