2. The Edge of The Rainforest
No matter which way you choose to go, the road from Castries to the rainforest is an adventure. From the Morne, it winds down toward the Cul de Sac valley with its endless fields of bananas. On one side is the West Coast Road that dips and climbs and twists its way toward Soufrière. On the other side is the road that runs through Bexon, l'Abbaye and Ravine Poisson to the foot of the Barre de l'Isle.
This is the road we will take, climbing up the wide curves to the top where the view is breathtaking and the cool, damp air is fragrant with the scent of pines. Tree ferns cling to the steep slopes and the earth is as red as a clay pot.
The road continues on to Dennery and then to Micoud and here our bus leaves the main road to begin the six mile drive to the edge of the rainforest. On our left flow the waters of the Troumassee River. Soon we reach the end of the road.
The bus leaves and we set off on foot along a narrow dirt track that leads into the trees. Our rainforest walk has begun and we are heading into a part of the island that has remained almost unchanged for thousands of years.
The air is warm and still and a heavy cover of grey cloud hangs over the mountains. Overhead, hidden from sight in the leafy branches, we can hear birds twittering away. They sound like children at a party. Underfoot the ground is damp and covered with fallen leaves. On one side of the track grow mosses and ferns and a bushy plant with soft green leaves and purple flowers.
As we climb higher, the trees get thicker and many of the species are new to us. We cross a stream picking our way carefully over the logs or mossy boards that have been laid down to make a bridge. Beside a small shed, we see a stack of reddish-brown boards of mahogany. In the distance we hear the sound of a chain saw at work.
Forest and Lands Department have a controlled programme for harvesting timber from the forest. Only specially selected trees are cut and new trees are being planted all the time to replace them.