A hike in the rainforest?
I think about my house in the mountains. There is nothing like walking up to the front door. My reaction is always immediate. It is the place where I exhale. I watch squirrels hide their nuts and then watch Blue Jay’s dig them up. I smell the fresh scent of pine needles that reminds me of my childhood. There are many trails and views of the city that are spectacular. All of this is why I exhale. It is amazing that I can be in the bustle of the city and within two hours I’m transformed into just being me. I love nature because it brings me back to the basics! Of course. I can fit in a morning hike.
We started out on rather flat terrain and we enjoyed the scenery as we briskly walked through the forest. We refilled our bottles of water with natural spring water and marveled at the beauty around us. Elaine and I noticed that we were a distance from the others, but we thought they were busy taking in the beauty.
We waited for a long time, worrying about them, until deciding to go back down the stairs to find them. There they were. Brian, Amber, PJ and Karla, huffing and puffing. Once we all reached the viewing deck and were rested, we continued.
There was a fork in the road. I could either continue with my group or walk the five hours across the island back to my village. Of course, I chose to walk back to my village.
Alright, I admit there might be small exaggeration here. Well, alright maybe it’s more than small exaggeration. Ok, so PJ and Karla are marathon runners and Brian and Amber are in great shape. And, ok…I didn’t really walk another five hours to my village. But some of it is true. Elaine and I are in the over 50 group, there were 566 stairs and it was a beautiful hike with great company.
Until recently we have not had any significant rainfall. As a result, the water company forces rationing by turning off water supplies, for days and sometimes weeks, to residents homes. While walking on the cool trail with the dense canopy, I was reminded of the importance of the rainforest and we talked about it amongst ourselves.
A few years ago, I was in Honduras with two of my sons and we flew to Guatemala. I had a window seat and as we flew over the canopy, I noticed clouds hovering above the trees. I naively concluded it to be smoke coming from small fires throughout the land. Then I remembered some of my old science classes and realized I was witnessing an amazing purpose of nature.
I’m not a scientist and I have only a little knowledge about the importance of the rain forest. It is like a sponge. It absorbs rain and stores it into the ground. The trees draw the water from the ground and release moisture above the canopy. It is released into the atmosphere in the form of mist and clouds. It is nature’s way of recycling.
Deforestation is a major contributor to the water crises. Of course there is a lot more to tell about the benefits of the rain forest; the insects, mammals, birds and snakes that flourish in the forest. But, as I said, I’m not a scientist.
The real beauty of the forest, for me, is in the details. At one point I stopped and just listened. There are no sounds like it. The humming birds, butterflies and giant moths are too fast to capture, but the yellow mushrooms, giant trees and bamboo dressed in grass skirts remain still. Nature is amazing and I always find relaxation amongst its beauty.
After a few minutes viewing the sweeping view extending to the sea, we were on our way out of the forest. Just before we reached the road, and at the very instant we approached an old building, we were startled by a loud noise – a generator to power electricity to the village below came alive. It served as a reminder that ‘progress’ abounds.
We walked down the road to find our bus, saying hello to people in the village, and answering the inevitable question, “Do you know Justin?” Yes, and we will say hello for you. Justin, a former volunteer left a few months ago, and is remembered throughout this village.
On my way home that day I passed the abandoned Westin Paridise site that is half-built, abandoned and decaying. (I can never resist an opportunity to give the Westin proper credit and a shout out for the work they did on this beautiful island).
Saint Lucia is in a delicate state. They are dependent on tourism and people who bring Dollars and Euros into the country. They are also dependent on the natural beauty of the land. This delicate balance requires a lot of thought and planning.