Above: Wotten Waven, Dominica (All photos by CJ)
By Alexander Britell
WOTTEN WAVEN — It’s hot here.
Yes, it’s the Caribbean. And yes, the sun is heavy.
But there’s another source of heat; something beneath my shoes.
You can see it in the copper-orange pools of boiling water; in the fumes that rise to the clouds.
It’s a pulse, under the surface, but sometimes it escapes.
This is Wotten Waven, a bohemian corner of Dominica home to sulphur springs and tiny guesthouses and hillside art galleries.
It might be the funkiest place in the whole Caribbean — and the hottest too.
You don’t always feel the heat of course — not unless you wade into the springs or get too close to the sulphur seeping through pockets in the ground, or if you walk to what, if it were ever finished, would be the hottest bar in the Caribbean, a wooden canopy with a center table right at the edge of an ever burning billow.
Wotten Waven is a fascinating pastiche of scenes and characters: there’s Tia, the singularly named hotelier who operates a rather-well constructed treehouse hotel with its own hot springs.
Above: Wotten Waven has a decidedly artsy environment
Further up the hill, there’s the playfully named Screw, a discreet place to enjoy sulphuric baths with significant others.
And further still is the Petit Paradise guesthouse, where Joan Ducreay operates a small bed and breakfast for backpackers, adventurous travelers and the hikers braving Dominica’s 115-mile-long Waitukubuli National Trail.
She also makes a mean rum punch, a spicy, peppery concoction that tastes best when viewing the Roseau Valley from the hotel lounge. (It’s got tangerine, pineapple, grapefruit, fresh lemon, passionfruit, raisins, prunes, cinnamon and nutmeg — and, as she is quick to point out, “love.”
Joan, you see, is a purveyor of what she calls “Mountain Rum.”
Above: Joan Ducreay
Petit Paradise began as a place to stay for locals from nearby villages, growing from one room into, well, several rooms. When it seemed like the whole village wanted to stay at her place, it was time to expand, she said.
Wotten Waven isn’t really like the rest of Dominica — yes, it’s equally tranquil, but there’s a far-off vibe permeating the place, from the Paradise art gallery to the feeling that the earth is about to bubble over right below you.
Above: a bath at Tia’s Bamboo Cottages
Indeed you can truly feel the warmth as the fumes expand and the pools bubble and the rum punch gets to work.
Above: one of Tia’s cottages
And from all this flowing heat comes the hope of Dominica: a goethermal energy well that could soon become a geothermal plant that could power all of the island — and maybe other islands, too.
This eclectic enclave could one day be the green engine of Dominica, powering lamps and TVs and computers and homes with pure heat from the earth.
All in a very cool place.