We were already a week away from Dominica.
In that time, we gradually descended from the almost north end of Portsmouth and Cabrits National Park to the middle of the east coast. Then we crossed to the opposite coast.
We made the capital Roseau a sort of operational base for the West.
A few days later, we decided to go out and discover the Dominica funds.
Green Mountain Dominica between Roseau and Soufriére
Its configuration as a large lush island-mountain, nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, makes Dominica a difficult nation to provide with roads. Once again, the route along Loubiere Road proves to be the only possible one. At times, it even seems unfeasible, conquered by the law of dynamite to the steep cliffs.
We passed the rocky Champagne Beach. Loubiere Road becomes even more winding and swinging. It enters a steep and dense jungle that, as we saw it, even animals will find it difficult to inhabit.
After almost twenty minutes without seeing the sea, we reached a panoramic high. To the south and to our complete amazement, an immense bay opened up, closed on the east by new mountains, the last of the island, as high and green as the previous ones.
From there, an unexpected vision marks a sudden difference. Semi-hidden by prominent canopies, in a smoothed section of the slope almost demoted to the slab, a house of all colors appeared.
Discovering the Picturesque Soufriére
We were at the gates of Soufriére. We needed to find the warm coast at its foot.
We crossed the border from the parish of Saint Luke to that of Saint Mark. Moments later, a church tower, erected in honor of the last of these saints, blesses us.
Soufriére is home to nearly fifteen hundred Dominicans. At that hour of the afternoon, around the temple and inside, we could not find a soul.
Frigates and squadrons of pelicans flew overhead, keeping an eye on the translucent water off the coast. We let another one of them get ahead.
When a white cloud flows over the pointed hill that encloses the bay and leaves the houses in the shade, we enter the deserted nave.
Light filtered through the stained glass windows highlights a peculiar altar that intrigues and summons us.
Centered on an expected Christ on the Cross, a mural painting illustrates the people and experiences of the island, faithful who deserve the protection of the Savior.
On the left, the Afro-descendant communities from the interior, the mountains and the jungle, growers of vegetables, fruit, beneficiaries of the island's volcanic and tropical fertility who celebrated to the beat of drums.
To the right of Christ, the men of the sea of Soufriére, pulling fishing nets from the ocean. A banner covering the pulpit used by the priest promotes the motto “Stewardship, a Way of Life”.
With religious curiosity satisfied, we returned to the outside of the village, in search of its mundane expressions.
Soufriére and its Bubble Beach SPA, A Bubbly Bathing Retreat
Only a few meters separated the church from the seaside and from an earthy sand bathed by a sea with a lake look.
When stepping on this beach, we come across an improvised bathing structure made of wood and painted tires.
A shelter from the sun separates a changing room from a providential bar. Almost on the waterline, a bench identifies a photographic point.
And a rectangle made of cement and sandbags that goes into the sea, delimits bubbling volcanic syrups that warmed it up and that justify the English name of the place “bubble beach spa".
For some time, we are the only ones to attend. Until, out of nowhere, two sisters, aged 11 or 12 and 15 or 16, appear. Reguilas and restless, in an obvious moment of evasion from home and school.
Already in amphibious mode, in the baths, they took the opportunity to play successive pranks on each other, pushing, amonas and pinching. Anything that crossed their minds that served as a distraction.
They calm down a little when they see us getting into the water and keeping them company, from then on, intrigued by our visual disparity, with the cameras we held, where we came from and what we were doing there.
We chatted a little, with fluctuations in the water temperature generating successive bursts of laughter.
In the meantime, at what seemed like after-work or after-school hours, a group of young expatriates flocked to the beach.
And there he inaugurated a conviviality in the expectation of the sunset, watered by rum punch and Kubuli beer, named after the name that the indigenous Caribbean gave to Dominica and which has the island's map in the center of its label.
From Soufriére to South, in Search of Dominica Funds
The animation of "Bubble Beach Spa” seduced us to stay there. On the other hand, we were aware that we were still only at the northern top of Soufriére Bay.
There was a rounded, forested expanse separating us from the southern edge of the island. Well, we had left Roseau with the photographic mission to explore it.
Accordingly, we said goodbye to the sisters with a “see you soon”, not sure if we would see them again.
We returned to the car. We take the coastal road that follows the bay, at the foot of the mountain.
Soufriére extends for a few hundred meters further. Soon, we interpose ourselves in the confrontation between the jungle and the sea, with the waves crashing into the wall and, here and there, splashing the asphalt.
Three and a half kilometers separated Soufriere from the bottom of Dominica. With the distance almost complete, we come across new houses.
The last of the island, belonging to the fishing village that once ventured there. And what ended up staying: Scotts Head.
Scotts Head and Dominica's Last House
With just over 700 residents, this village owes its name to George Scott, a colonel who, in 1761, participated in the British expeditionary force that captured Dominica from the French.
And that he was promoted to governor of the island between 1764 and 1767, only to see the French recapture it in 1778.
Intent on avoiding such a setback, Scott oversaw the construction of a fort atop the curved peninsula at the back of Dominica.
It is there that we head first, immediately, amazed by the incredible view over the basement in front and, in particular, by the assorted houses that perched above its forest.
Both the houses and the isthmus are bathed by two seas that, were it not for that derisory strip of island, would have touched.
From the top of the peninsula that the indigenous Caribbean called Cachacrou (“hat that is eaten”), between cannons and on a colony of oscillating bottle cleaners, we admire the translucent Caribbean Sea, to the north and west.
And to the south and east, the slightly rougher Atlantic Ocean.
A family of Dominicans, emigrants and visiting the island, experience a wonder comparable to ours. Theirs, filled with nostalgia and derived emotions.
We were still intrigued by why that village had settled there.
The explanation forces us to return to Scott's story and the France vs. Britain dispute over the West Indies.
Scotts Head and George Scott's Dominican History
After the British took the island, its French inhabitants contributed to the French reconquest. On the verge of the attack by the Gallic fleet sent from the martini island, a fearless group carried out a visit to the enemy garrison, eager for company.
As a result, they managed to get the soldiers in the den drunk and, if not enough, they sabotaged the cannons of the fort with sand.
By the end of that day, the French held the fort and, soon, Dominica.
For a short time. Five years later, the complex Treaty of Versailles forced them to offer Dominica to the British, something doubly frustrating considering that the island is located between two French islands, Guadalupe e Martinique.
With time and the conformism to British rule, the people and homes of the now called Scott's Head continued to increase, with life simplified by easy fishing and direct access to both seas.
The Tropical and Caribbean Wealth of Soufriere Scotts Head Marine Reserve
In times long after Dominica's independence in 1978, their home in the Bay of Soufriére provided them with new benefits. The bay lies over a submerged volcanic crater.
Its waters have such a rich fauna and flora that the Dominican authorities declared them a marine reserve. Today the Soufriere Scotts Head Marine Reserve it is sought after and traveled by thousands of eager divers.
The influx of money that this tourism added meant that a good part of the residents had abandoned fishing or practiced it only in moments of escape and leisure, something that seemed to be going to last, when we returned to Soufriére and its picturesque "bubble beach spa".
Sunset to the west had already turned it into a complete silhouette. Made up of many guests who spoke with their feet in the water or bathed.
And that of the restless sisters who, to our astonishment, continued to run to and fro, pulling and pushing.
With no reason to rush back to Roseau, we got back into that Caribbean Sea smoothed and silvered. And to submit ourselves to your company.