Hiking La Soufriere Volcano from the Windward Side and back to Richmond Vale
Rabacca Travel Blog› entry 6 of 7 › view all entries
February 5th, 2009 – by: hoofinnit
A guy named Alex also sat at my table, as well as Stina. Alex is from Romania and I had played a couple games of ping pong with him. He is the only other visitor at the Hiking Center, and arrived a day before me. As Franklyn had told me yesterday, he is here for a month to visit his friend Deanna (who was his girlfriend before she left for Richmond Vale) also from Romania, who ended up befriending Phillipe from Argentina on the first day of the program. Phillipe and Deanna are now boyfriend and girlfriend, and while I have no idea what Deanna has told Alex about the situation, Alex is clearly not having a great time. Franklyn sat down with us and invited Alex to come on the hike with us. (Franklyn later told me that Phillipe had put him up to asking Alex to go.) Alex seemed interested, but admitted to being unfit as he has a desk job at an IT company back home.
After Alex got a few things together, we were all set to go. As Nick-- a teacher at the Academy-- was heading into Kingstown, Franklyn, Alex and myself piled into the little Suzuki with him and headed off on our adventure. The plan was to hike to the volcano from the Windward side of the island. After getting into Kinstown, we would take a minibus-- a really inexpensive mode of transport on the island which all the locals use-- to Georgetown. We planned on taking the minibus into Georgetown to buy bottled water at the supermarket, then figure out a ride to the trail head. Franklyn and I had planned to walk to the trail head from Georgetown, but as Alex came along we decided to change the plans a bit.
When we go into Georgetown Alex wanted to top up his cell phone card, so we set out to find a provider. As we walked around Kingstown, Alex checked out a few stores, and stopped at a couple street vendors to look for a rasta hat. He finally found a hat, then he got the phone card, and then we headed to the the minibus station. While there he tried to find the driver who had taken him to Richmond Vale as he had left his cell phone on the bus. (I was a bit confused as to why he wanted to put more minutes on a cell phone that was not in his possession, but that's just me!) Anyway, Alex's driver wasn't there, so we looked for a bus that would take us to Georgetown.
The bus station was packed with buses, and on each bus there seemed to be a driver, another guy in the front passenger seat--whose job description I was clueless about--as well a third guy who collected your money and opened and closed the door along the way for passengers. The guy who took your money also seemed to be the marketing guru as well, as he walked throughout the station trying to get business for his particular bus.
We had a choice of at least two heading to Georgetown, and as Franklyn didn't know either one of the drivers, he picked one at random. The minibusses are minivans which have four bench seats in them behind the driver. There is a section missing in each of the middle two benchseats to create a walkway to the back of the bus without having to climb over seats or people. It is eventually filled with extra cushions, so by the time the bus is full, there is not an inch of seat uncovered.
We pull out and start to wind up, down, and around the narrow roads at what seemed to be 65 miles per hour. Somehow, I felt safe with the capability of the driver.
Franklyn let the driver know where he wanted us to get off, which we later found out from a manky looking rasta man smoking a huge joint on the side of the road that we were well past the supermarket. Franklyn asked if he knew anyone we could pay to give us a ride to the trail head.
Since we still needed bottled water, the rasta agreed to meet us at the Dry River in about a half an hour. We stopped at several little minimarts--I am using this term loosely as they were basically shacks which offered a small selection of canned goods or snacks-- along the way. As some of them didn't have water, and others only had a couple of small bottles each, it took several stops before we had enough. In the mean time, Alex decided he was hungry, so we then went in search of something for him to eat. As you can imagine, all this is taking much longer than we planned for. We finally are set to meet our rasta man, so we walked the now short distance along the ocean's edge on the road to the Dry River crossing--which got its name practically as it was created by the volcano erupting and doesn't ever have water in it!
We arrived at our pick up point about 40 minutes after we talked to rasta man, and he wasn't there.
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