Down to the river — hiking in Fondes Amandes

I planned to spend the day curled up with a good book but my friend wasn’t having it. “We’re going to the river!” he said. He suggested that I dress for a hike. I have never been to a river lime.

Being an adventurer, I put on my sneakers and headed out into the sun. We were supposed to meet some friends along the way. As usual, they were running late, so we decided to stroll from Woodbrook to the Queen’s Park Savannah — and then to a nearby supermarket when they changed the meeting point. We were there for a while before the squad finally arrived, and announced that we would walk to the river. I don’t know many Trinidadians who like to walk, so I assumed the river was close by.

Almost half an hour later, we were still walking and all I saw was concrete. I wondered if the river was a dam. I was ashamed to ask.

Sign postPassing over a bridge and climbing steadily upwards, we passed large beautiful houses, nicely manicured lawns, at times high fences and many a chorus of barking dogs. As we treked up that incline and I melted under the hot sun, I gazed longingly at the luxury air-conditioned vehicles parked up outside those houses… But, I was heading to the river!

I sensed we were getting closer. I couldn’t hear the rushing of water but there was bamboo and a sudden drop, which could be the river’s course. We entered Fondes Amandes Road. This name was very familiar to me. Akilah Jaramogi came to mind.

She has done incredible work to preserve the forest and nature. This is the home of her Fondes Amandes Community Re-forestation Project (FACRP). It’s an amazing NGO, which collaborates with other entities to find solutions to watershed management problems. Before the year 2000, bush fires terrorised the area during the dry season and Mrs. Jaramogi, her late husband Tacuma, and members of the community worked assiduously to prevent the bush fires and protect the flora and fauna of the St. Ann’s watershed. I must come back to tour the project and participate in the educational sessions. Perhaps I can plant trees as well.

One of the small pools by the riverBeyond the FACRP and through a track is an opening to the river. The path led us down some very steep and partially slippery rocks. Jumping, hopping, crawling and climbing brought us to gorgeous pools for swimming.

It was incredible. I envied the people who live above the river. This is their backyard? It is clean and untainted. The water is filled with tiny fish and it is freezing cold. Just dipping my toe in was a shock to my body, so I decided to relax on a log while my friends jumped in.

The leaves were swaying in the gentle breeze. Butterflies flitted by. I was at peace. I had a child-like urge to chase them, but I didn’t want any broken bones, so I simply watched happily. Dragonflies with red wings kept me company as well — just chilling on some leaves. This solitude and serenity was exactly what I wanted, and needed.

Right. Enough of that!

Fish pedicureI got the guts to plunge into the water and I don’t regret a minute of it. My friends were doing somersaults off the rocks and diving into the river. Some of the diving angles looked like invitations to the Grim Reaper. Adventurous or not, I refuse to go back to Barbados in a box.

I loved that this river (like many rivers and waterfalls) provided its own natural spa experience. The fish seemed to love one of my friends’ feet. She entered the river with some dead skin and they gave her a free pedicure.

Although other people joined us shortly before we left, they were not loud yet had fun diving, swimming and liming in the pools.

As a final disclaimer, I’m told that this wasn’t a proper river lime because there were neither alcoholic drinks nor curry!

Maybe next time.

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Shelly Inniss

Shelly is a Barbadian adventure seeker at heart, and often galavants off the beaten path. She's on a self-mission to explore as much of Trinidad & Tobago as she can!View Author posts

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