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Dominica weekly is a personal weblog about the nature island of Dominica.

Archive for September, 2010


Calabash Restaurant in Calibishie, Dominca

Calibishie has a wonderful new place to dine out, the Calabash Restaurant. It’s conveniently located in a real beauty spot, moderately priced, and serves wonderful food. The phone number is 445-8438.

The Calabash Restaurant has an extensive menu featuring beef, pork, seafood (both fish and shellfish) and chicken in delightful preparations and available as both starters and entrees. And the Calabash offers nice deserts and brews a fine after-dinner coffee.

The restaurant has a well-stocked bar and offers indoor and al fresco dining, the former on the ground floor adjoining the bar and the latter on a first floor deck.

Tables on both levels are available overlooking Calibishie Bay, a beautiful view at any time. On clear days the fine ambience view includes Calibishie’s famed “Devil’s Gate and Red Rocks, the bay and reef, and the islands of Guadeloupe, des Saintes and Marie-Gallante.

the-calabash-restaurant

By night the restaurant floodlights the bay on its shore and one can enjoy twinkling lights on Marie-Gallant and/or the heavenly light of the moon, planets, stars and Milky Way while dining. Reservations aren’t required but a call a day or two in advance can secure menu choices.

No mention of the Calabash Restaurant would be complete without compliments to the staff and the fine service provided. The Calabash Restaurant is very easy to find. Coming from Portsmouth on the main road, look to the left about 150 yards after passing the school. It’s directly on the bay in the refurbished former Domcan’s Restaurant building. Make a point of visiting for a great meal.

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Image of the boiling lake in Dominica

Dominica is one of many the Caribbean islands formed on the site of volcanic activity. Its population (mostly blacks) grows bananas and nearly one-third of the labour force works in agriculture. Dominica’s mountains, rainforests, freshwater lakes, hot springs, waterfalls, and diving spots makes it an attractive Eco-tourism destination.

One of the many unique natural attractions in Dominica is the Boiling Lake, the second fumarole lake in the world (after New Zealand’s Waimangu if to speak about sizes). Though this comparison is rather relative – unfortunately for tourists the lake is used to drying from time to time, resembling a muddy pool then rather than a lake. Since 1887 there have been registered several such cases. Since then the Forestry Division and enthusiasts have been regularly monitoring the lake taking photos and trying to measure its depth and diameter at least approximately.

 Am image of valley of desolation in Dominica

Staying in the vicinity of the lake may cost you life because of sulphurous gas and steam from the empty crater. It should be noted that the temperature there is estimated at 92 ºC. Some even boil eggs in the lake as legends say. Sometimes during rains the temperature of the water goes down to 10ºC and some brave hearts dare swimming despite the fact it is strictly prohibited for the lake is unpredictable.

In its normal state (i.e. the enormous bubbling cauldron) the diameter is measured up to 200 ft (66 m) and its approximate depth exceeds 195 ft (64 m). This cauldron is surrounded by glib rock walls with the height of 60-100 ft. Sulphurous steam often conceals half the lake which has milky white surface then. When its bubbling and steaming activity is lower you can see grayish-blue waters below. The smell, it should be said, is skanky. Still many tourists from different parts of the world seeking adventures dare hiking to the Boiling Lake.

Image of breakfast river on the boiling lake in Dominica

The word “hiking” means you can reach the place only on foot. Since Dominica has become a popular place with tourists the locals offer services of hiking guides. You can find guides either in Laudat, the nearest village to the lake, or in Roseau, the capital of Dominica. Even do not keep it in your mind to go there alone. For some hotshots this trip happened to be one way. The distance between Laudat, initial stage of the trip, and the lake is about 8 miles. The two-way trail may take you 6-8 hours. You should soberly evaluate your physical abilities. If you hardly remember your last visit to the gym, you’d rather stay in the hotel.

The trail starts early in the morning. People, experienced it, advise to put on your cheapest and most comfortable clothes: shorts, sturdy sandals, hiking boots. Extra batteries for your camera, snacks, water-supply, waterproof rain gear, and some extra clothes will not be excessive. Leave all the jewelry in your hotel room.

The trail starts with Titou Gorge. There you can cool off, enjoy a soak in hot mineral spring if you are a good swimmer, of course, for you’ll have to enter the deep Gorge with few places to grip. This stage is also the muddiest one. From that point the path will lead you through the rain forest to the Breakfast River. It is the only spot where you can have a snack and provide you with clean drinking water. The run from the village to the Breakfast River is rather easy and pleasant notwithstanding the mud and sulphurous springs.

An image a natural pool on the trail to the boiling lake in Dominica

The next run from the river to the Valley of Desolation gets rather tough. First you go through the Elfin Woodlands where you can enjoy exotic plants, palms, shrubs and grasses, then you will climb, and climb, and climb along the ridge to the very top (3,168 ft) of the Morne Nicholls. At this point you may rest a bit and have a spectacular view: Morne Micotrin, Roseau, the Caribbean Sea, Morne Watt, Laudat, and Cochrane. Then you’ll have to descend from the ridge to enter the Valley.

It is a volcanic valley with hot sulphur springs and vapour columns. There you can admire the Fumarole Vegetation – the only plants that can survive there – and various colours resulting from volcanic activity. From that point the path gets vague. You will have to carefully cross and re-cross the stream, climb and descend the mountains before you get to the lake. The run from the Valley up to the lake will take you about 40 minutes or more.

An image Dominica boiling lake

At this final stage of your trail it seems that you have enough strength and will to make a way back to the village. But it just seems. The only fact making you continue your trip is absence of any means of transportation. No one will get you to your hotel room but yourself before it gets dark. Finally you return to the village, get a portion of hot meal, and have a soak in the bath.

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Image of miracle lake on the commonwealth of DominicaPhoto by Tropical Ties Dominica

The Miracle Lake (Lake Matthieu) is a real beauty spot of Dominica. But its divine beauty is not its only attractive feature. The other one is the lake’s age. How long do you think it exists? For epochs? For centuries? Missed.

In fact, it could not even be adult, if it were a human. That lake is a teenager lake, because it’s barely 13 years old.

Back in 1996, there was no any lake; the place was not desolated, though. There used to be a tableland with plantations, but in 1997 a landslide dammed the Layou River, and the tableland was flooded.

Three dams were formed, two of them burst in a week. The third one still remains, and this is the one which has shaped the Miracle Lake.

So far, nobody knows how stable the lake is, they are still investigating the lake’s safety. I don’t suppose you want to be there when another rock comes off. It is a very beautiful emerald lake, but nobody should come down. However, if you’d love to feast your eyes upon the lake, you should know that it is absolutely safe to be looking at it, while standing far up.

This safety issue should not bother you too much, because the land owner is perfectly aware of what is safe and what is not, and he can give you a tour. His name is Christborn Shillingford, and he’s a really good guide. And a good guy too, maybe that’s why he’s also known as Rambo. By the way, it is him who’s given the name to the lake. Officially, the place is called Mathieu Dam.

The Miracle Lake is larger than the Freshwater Lake and the Boeri Lake. Its maximum depth reaches 140 feet. New, wild, clean, and virgin, it will become a high spot of your journey. It is really worth of looking at. Just don’t forget to contact the owner before you come.

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