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The Yachtie Chronicles - Rincon Falls



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Rincon Falls - a perfect eight

by Devi Sharp (S/V Arctic Tern)

When we met Jesse at 6:00 it seemed quite early; the orange winged parrots were still squawking loudly as they departed their nighttime roost to go where ever it is they go for the day. The nighttime air was just starting to warm up. As we drove out of Chaguaramas and into the hills of Petit Valley it was clear that many had started their day hours ago. Six AM is not too early to start a day of hiking.

Jesse says the Rincon Falls hike is an eight on a scale of one to ten with one being the easiest. We all have our own basis of rating trails according to our level of experience and fitness. Regardless of rating I can say we had a great day and that you do need to be prepared for a few hours of hiking, a bit of steep terrain and whatever weather the day brings. The youngest hiker in our group, an eleven year old, was consistently in the front of the line hopping logs and ducking vines. Lunch, water, insect repellant and good shoes are essential for the trip.

Jesse runs a tour and taxi service called Members Only Maxi Taxi. Jesse provides regular shopping trips to the market, grocery and large hardware stores, as well as custom trips for hiking and evening trips into town to listen to music. Jesse is a great ambassador for his county and was awarded with the Seven Seas Cruisers Association 'Camaraderie Award' in 2001 and the Seven Seas South Bound II Award in 2005.

We met our guide, "Snake" (his real name is Laurence), at the start of the trail. As we got our selves together I saw Snake and his assistant unload a few ropes and a lifejacket from the trunk of his car. Snake gave us a safety talk and we were off down the road. We passed a few houses and active gardens. Snake stopped now and again to point out plants of interest and tell us the medical and practical uses. We all tried a plant that tasted a bit like spinach. I enjoyed the botanical lessons. At this point someone remarked about our good fortune to have and early start and to beat the heat.

The trail followed the contour of the hillside and was an old path that was used for transporting coffee and cocoa to market in St. Joseph, when it was the capital of the country. We stopped at a field that was planted with pumpkin and cucumber. The cucumbers had been picked but a few were missed, and Snake used his cutlass (machete) to peel cucumbers and gave us each a slice. He then tossed us each a mango as a desert for our snack. After about two hours of hiking we reached Black Waterfall. We took a half hour break for a swim. A few of us, (okay, only Jesse and I), climbed up about ten feet in the chute of the waterfall and slid down into the water. It was a refreshing break.

Another hour or so and many "nature food breaks" got us to the edge of Rincon Falls. Snake rigged a hand line so we had something for our hands to grip as we walked down a slippery muddy gully. We all arrived safely to a pool fed by a 300 foot waterfall. The falls stepped down the cliff in small shimmering ribbons and pooled on ledges and continued downward traversing the ledges. We lunched and swam for an hour. Snake rigged another safety rope in the deep pool just in case someone needed help. Snake had obviously spent a lot of time and planning on his safety plan.

Seemly out of nowhere Snake produced a red tailed boa. I admit I am a fan of snakes, especially boas and pythons. We are too big for them to eat and we present no threat to them. Several of us enjoyed handling this gentle forest dwelling creature.

Our natural trail snacks included mamey apples, known as apricots in some of the other Caribbean islands. We stopped at a bread fruit tree and Snake showed us that you can make a slash in the tree and the layer beneath the bark will weep a milky substance. If you let that milky gum sit there for a few days you can return and scrape the gum and have your self a nice wad of chewing gum. It has no taste, but a good consistency. It is best not to take it out of your mouth and look at the color of the gum- it is an unappetizing shade of gray. The color of chewing gum is overrated!

After a bit of a steep downhill hiking we hit a dirt road and crossed a few streams. In a deep stream Snake got busy on a project. He was vigorously rubbing a palm fruit on a rock. A blob of yellow slime was growing and he reached up and started shampooing his hair with the yellow stuff. I admit that I am terminally curious and besides I felt that Snake would be disappointed if no one took him up on his offer of a shampoo. I wet my hair and offered up my head for anointment with the yellow goop. I lathered and rinsed and after a few more rinses my hair was clean and soft. In fact I think even now a few days later it is a bit softer.

We got back to the van and changed out of our wet clothing and headed directly to Maracas Beach for a Bake and Shark. It was a great day.

Devi Sharp
S/V Arctic Tern

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