Alex started his first day of clinicals so Thom and I had to figure out what to do all by ourselves. I thought laying in the hammock by the beach with my Kindle sounded divine but by the time I had lotioned up and gathered my things Thom had booked us on a tour where we were supposed to swim from one waterfall to another through a gorge. I had to admit that did sound pretty fun so we had a quick breakfast and off we went.
Tour guide Clem picked us up at our hotel with Lori and Keith, who said they were staying at a hotel called “rustic” by TripAdvisor, which is code for cheap dump. They said it was hard sleeping there at first but after applying Deet the bugs left them alone. (I can highly recommend the Fort Young Hotel, by the way, no bugs or rodents and right on the ocean.)
Our first stop was Trafalgar Falls, a set of two waterfalls that merge into one river. The higher/longer one is called the father and the other the mother.
On the hike down we came across lots of these Dominican crabs, many holding fallen figs in their pinchers and scurrying back to their rock holes.
At the base of the “father” fall were several pools of hot springs. They’re about 100 degrees and have special fountain-of-youth and healing powers. I’m always up for a fountain of youth treatment so jumped right in. I was a little worried about that big crab on the ledge but Clem assured me it was not an attack crab and that even if it fell in, the hot water would kill it. He did concede, however, that if it fell in it would still have time to grab me with his pinchers before he died.
Next on the agenda was the trip to the Titou Gorge. We took a short hike along a wooden water pipe and across a rickety suspension bridge.
Ti-tou means “little throat” in Creole. It had just rained and in fact was sprinkling when we got there so the water was high and the currents were especially strong. We started off in this little pool of water. Thom, of course, dove right in. Lori followed but let out a scream when her foot hit the water — it was like Lake Superior. I tried it and it was freezing! I hate swimming in freezing water. It’s so cold. Thom, the big fat liar, said it wasn’t cold when you get in, it’s just the contrast from the hot springs that was making it feel cold. Believing the love of my life I believed him and jumped in. Have you ever been seized by such instant pain/shock that you’re immobilized for a moment? Yes, it was that cold, being mountain water and all.
I guess Thom wasn’t such a liar after all because after about five minutes I didn’t feel cold. But, that might have been because we all were swimming so hard against the current and trying to keep from being buffeted into the rocks that we forgot the cold.
Here is the start of the little throat — the current wasn’t that bad here.
We obviously couldn’t take a camera with us so these next two photos were taken from the hiking trail above the gorge. They show the progression of the canyon. In this first one below you can see the current getting stronger as it gets closer to the falls. I have to say it was really cool, being at the very bottom of this narrow echoing canyon in pure mountain water.
In the photo below the upper diamond-shaped pool of water shows where the waterfall was landing. The extreme turbulence caused by the recent rain made Clem worry about flash-flooding, so he kept telling us to hurry. The bottom smaller diamond shaped pool of water, just slightly(!!) less turbulent than the upper pool, was as far as Lori, Keith and I could get. See that sharp jut in the middle (on the right) between the two pools of water? Try as I might I couldn’t get around it, the current was too strong. I tried for 20 minutes to rock-climb around it (until a couple of my fingers were raw). Thom, Lori and Keith couldn’t get around it either so that made me feel better. I wasn’t such a wimp after all.
Clem suggested propelling myself to the opposite wall (on the left, you can’t see it), and then trying to kind of leap over the heavy part of the current with a big push of my feet off the wall. I knew that if I could just get around the corner I could use the current to my advantage and kind of walk up to where a little ledge was (i.e., around the ledge the water would push strongly at my back, perpendicular to the wall and then I could just kind of rappel sideways against the current). (Clem kept saying that normally the gorge was very placid and an easy swim up to the falls.)
I tried this tactic but being short and light I landed smack dab in the middle of the strongest part of the current and before I knew it was two turns back in the gorge. I swam back up in time to see Thom succeed. I was so jealous! Lori and Keith didn’t even try.
As I said before, Clem was really nervous about a flash flood given how strong the falls were so we quickly floated back to the mouth of the gorge. Lori snapped this shot of me coming out of the gorge as she and Keith had floated back way before us.
It turns out the waterfall at the mouth of the gorge came from a separate hot spring source. Ever wonder what ecstasy looks like? See exhibit A below.