The Emerald Pool is one of Dominicaís most famous attractions. Tucked away in the tropical rainforest covering the Dominican mountains, this World Heritage Site is considered one of the most beautiful parts of this gorgeous (but small and rather impoverished) Caribbean island. Since many Dominicans need work, one service that some will provide is a guided tour around the island, including to Emerald Pool.
Our family, and the family on Sea Eagle, had taken an island tour the day before, but of a different part of the island. The man we went with, Martin, also offered a tour that would take us to Emerald Pool. (The tour also covered several other areas, such as the Carib reservation.) We had enjoyed the first tour, and agreed to take this one as well.
Unlike the weather we had on our first tour, which was very hot and dry, it rained throughout almost every minute of the second tour. We reached the Emerald Pool parking lot in the afternoon, and between the rain and the clouds, we could not even tell where the sun was. The rain was coming down in sheets, and as we dashed across the parking lot, we all got well soaked.
Before we went into the rainforest on the trail that leads down to the pool, we visited a small natural history exhibit. Dominica has several species not found anywhere else, including the Dominican Parrot, which is shown on the national flag. Several other animal species were also particular to that area. Very large epiphytes and mahogany trees are also found around Emerald pool.
As we started on the trail towards the pool, I noticed one significant difference between the pictures and the forest. All of the pictures we saw in the exhibit were taken on a day with much different weather than we had. They were all taken on a day with beautiful, clear skies, whereas all of our pictures would show a gray, rainy day. The forest, however, was beautiful even so, with a mix of green and brown. Flashes of red and other bright colors marked epiphytes and flowers. All of this was viewed through a gray veil of rain, making a gorgeous sight.
The forest smelled wonderful as well. We could smell the forest even before we entered it. The scent was of green leaves and bright flowers. The rain also brought the smell of wet earth. As we entered the forest, we could also detect a faint odor of decomposing plants, like in a leaf pile or compost heap.
The rain did muffle many sounds, but occasionally, a birdís cry would break through the constant pattering of rain on the huge leaves all around us. There were other sounds, too. Several streams feed the pool, and the trail goes right over one of them. The biggest stream that feeds the pool ends in a waterfall tumbling down with a great rushing sound. Another stream, larger than the others, runs out of the pool and down towards the sea. This one appeared to have been swollen by the rain, but looked like it sometimes got much higher than its current levels. As we approached the pool, these rushing, gurgling, and splashing streams and the sound of the raindrops on the pool itself blended with the forest sounds to make what could almost be called a soothing music.
The pool itself is not large, being vaguely circular with about a 20-foot diameter. It was slightly muddy due to the runoff caused by the rain, but was beautiful to see anyways. Two of the sides were moss-covered rocks. A 15-foot waterfall, carrying an impressive amount of water, rushed over one of these walls and thundered into the pool. Opposite the waterfall, a small river rushed out of the pool and down the mountainside. The third side was where our trail met the pool, a partially flat section of rock with several small caves.
The adults stayed huddled under their umbrellas over by the caves, but we (the five kids) jumped into the pool for a few minutes of swimming. As long as we stayed out of the middle of the current, nobody had any trouble, and there is a beautiful view from the pool. Looking up, we could see the bottom of the canopy, an expanse of pale green that disappeared into the rest of the rainforest. In the middle, a hole opened up, allowing us to see the gray and cloudy sky. Looking through that hole from the middle of the pool, we could see raindrops streaking down towards us.
We didnít stay by the pool long, but it was a wonderful, peaceful place to visit. I would like to go back there on a clear day, just to see what is different. However, rain or sun, Emerald pool is a fascinating and wonderful place to visit.
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