Features

The Soufriere Excursion

By SLNT Member, Gyanchand Rayman

THE proposed excursion to Soufriere last Sunday by the Saint Lucia National Trust created a buzz of excitement among its members and nature lovers itching for an outing. The very name ‘Soufriere’ conjures images of the majestic beauty of the famous twin Pitons, exotic scenery and a tempestuous past where colonial powers played out their war games. Some believe, too, in deeper mysteries, that within its pristine setting is concealed the elixir of immortality.

But Sunday’s excursion was to be a simple treat: to see the petroglyphs at Stonefield Estate and have a bath at Superman Falls.

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Two busloads of members and non-members departed Castries and Vieux Fort and converged in Soufriere. We were a party of approximately forty souls, comprising three generations. As the journey was expected to be of moderate difficulty, I wondered how the six- and seventy-year-olds would endure.

I thought that perhaps after a dip in Superman Falls, they would be invigorated enough and infused with superhuman ability to fly up the trail like the caped hero. I did not worry about the two-year-old who was asleep in a sling on his father’s back, dreaming what we cannot fathom, but perhaps realizing also dreaming to one day fashion a new world.

The combined treat was a visit to the Soufriere Fire Station where a young fire officer showed us a model guillotine which he and a comrade had erected in memory of executions that had taken place publicly in the community where locals lost their heads in the fashion of the then mother country, France.

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Gruesome that must have been and the excited blood-thirsty public cry that originated in France at the roll of a head has since found residence in the Saint Lucian vocabulary to describe any sudden unpleasant occurrence, for example, a fall. Thanks to France, we have learned more than just French!

Our visit to Stonefield was short and pleasant. Upon entering, a fountain of cool cascading freshness greeted us and many could not resist taking smiling pictures, posing in front. Further in, we noticed that the grounds were well-kept and the ambience most pleasant.

But soon the path led to a turn-off to the petroglyph trail and down we went, winding our way, the kids forever excited, rushing past the plodding, cautious adults. There were a few rock carvings inscribed there by our Amerindian ancestors who first roamed these parts, perhaps as far back as a millennium before the advent of Christ.

It is believed that some of the petroglyphs, wherever found, could have been in honour of their god of fertility. Who knows what else their carvings depict? Beyond that, we know that they have left their bloodline and some people I know have claimed to be of Amerindian ancestry and proudly embrace their Amerindian heritage. It was for us another opportunity to get our cameras clicking to record a little of our history before setting out to a more exciting event — the visit to Superman Falls.

At the entrance of the trail, we heard that the walk would be long and arduous and the children were asked to board a vehicle for a short ride to save themselves some energy until we reached a narrow descent. So they piled in and off they went, then on foot took the serpentine trail that snaked through a canopied heart of greenness, down, down, down, curving and twisting and forever descending until we heard the faintly sustained muffled roar of tumbling water and we knew we were drawing close to the famous Superman Falls.

Then excited young voices lilting with laughter reached us, which brought a smile to our lips and we unconsciously quickened our pace to close the gap. When we arrived, we beheld Superman Falls cascading liquid diamonds in unending torrents scintillating in the sunlight most spectacularly. Without a moment’s delay, we stripped and changed and joined the party in the pool.

Measured by my eyes, the drop was perhaps forty feet high, disputably more or less, but immaterial. Tots and teens and others of ages numbering many tens were there, splashing, smiling, some standing with bare back under the full force of the battering drop getting a back massage like none other.

Some reclined against the rock face in the gentler force of water slithering down. Others, joined us, face and arms smeared in black sulphuric mud and wallowed in the therapeutic bath. One woman in ecstasy, it seemed, took up residence under the warm torrent, reluctant to exit the pool for any reason.

Yet, some more were in a two-way stream taking pictures in relay. Some perched themselves on rocks, amateurs now professionals, taking their best pictures to post on social media, no doubt, for this is the age that it reigns. Enjoyment was evident everywhere.

Gracing the party of excursionists and having as much fun as everyone else was Director of the Saint Lucia National Trust, Bishnu Tulsie, his wife, and Programme Assistant for Membership, Melissa Mc Lauren. It was a fine time for fun and frolic and we had that in copious quantities.

Eventually, our time was up and we had to make a move. We changed and journeyed back up, in some places, step by challenging step, paused for a respite and moved inexorably forward for the event was over and we had to be homeward bound.

The trip advertised as being of moderate difficulty was arguably moderate and a pip, but say what, the kids made the climb, as did the seniors, and if our legs were sore, our enjoyment of the day’s outing outmatched that.

Melissa, who shepherded the flock, got roasted in the sun to a fine tan. Here and there, strangers became acquainted. Pleasantries and good cheer were in the air. Hospitality of well-wishers added to our pleasure as at Stonefield we were treated to cool and refreshing coconut water, fresh from the nuts, and at Superman Falls, from other generous donors, turnovers and lababad for everyone. It was another efficiently-planned and executed trip organized by the Saint Lucia National Trust. Kudos to you as an organization, and thank you.

Regulars and newcomers, see you on another National Trust event. Know your country, protect your heritage, as patriots we are.

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