Mary’s looking for our next hotel, so I get a few minutes to add to our inland empire stories. From our lazy existance in Las Galeras, we headed to the more popular area of the northern coast. The serious resort towns up here are Cabarete and Puerto Plata, so we tried out a smaller town in between called Sosua. Right. The small towns up here are just sloppy resort areas for foreigners with less money. The beaches are great if you don’t mind the shacks along the waterfront selling everything you don’t want. Except the bars. They’ll send out all the beer and Cuba Libres (rum and coke) you can handle straight to your chair on the beach all day for $20US. Maybe that’s not so bad…
The fun thing about towns like this are the crazy foreigners you meet in the hostel areas. Between the crazy wannabe-IT guy who owns the hostel and wants to rip everything Microsoft and Norton off your computer before he lets you on the WiFi, the Louisana guys looking for a good time, the Canadian bartender who just wants a tip so he can down another beer, the old American who came down looking for a good time and apparently found it is cheaper to marry than pay for every visit (yet he still had a noon ‘massage’ appointment) or the Brit who traveled the world and then founded the seemingly popular and respected Dominican Website www.dr1.com. The last guy actually seemed pretty normal…
Needless to say, the next day we headed out to calmer waters. Literally, it turns out. We wanted to see a bit of the interior now that we’d seen nearly the entire norther coast, so we headed for Jarabacoa which is on the way up the mountains to Pico Duarte, highest point in the Caribbean at 10,500 feet.
Jarabacoa is like Tahoe. Beautiful mountain town with pine trees and near-alpine meadows. No lake, though. Like Mary said, we did the rafting thing. Maybe I expected a bit of white water excitement since we’re in the middle of nowhere and our lives are worth nothing here. But it was more like beer floating. 87 adventurous foreigners with neon bracelets that proclaim “One more free mai-tai!” bused in for the day from their comfortable lounge chair on the sands of Puerto Plata resorts accompanied our float down the river. No offense to the parents who may be reading, but once the gray-heads show up to a rafting trip, you know it’s going to be Rafting Miss Daisy at best.
OK, I’m being negative. We did get wet and I was able to set my paddle down and take pictures while we went through the “white water” sections. So it was fun. We did meet a couple guys from Minnesota who talk like my Dad and a model from Milan who’s here to get a boob job. If only we had video of the gestures Mary and this girl made while trying to get the point across. That 30 seconds was quite a bit more invigorating than the whole raft trip.
Next day of hiking was more our style. We hopped a moto (can’t call it a ”motorcycle” in good counscience if it’s just 100cc) out a few miles to the waterfall trailhead. We stopped twice and twice I burned my calf on the muffler. The injuries are moving higher…
We walked up to Salto Jimenoa which is claimed to be the waterfall background for the helicopter landing scene in Jurassic Park. Neato. Couldn’t find a dinosaur in my swim, though.
Oh – Looks like Mary found a home for us in Martinique, so it’s time for dinner. That was the deal.
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We left Las Galeras on 4-21 and headed inland. Internet availability is sparse and we´ve got a ton to upload as soon as we get access. These internet shops just don´t cut it. We went to the center of the island where the mountains are and did some river rafting and hiking to waterfalls. We´re in the capital, Santo Domingo, now and are leaving for the Virgin Islands tomorrow. There we´ll catch the end of their Carnival then jump onto a boat to sail the blue seas. Wonder if there´ll be WiFi on board. Ugh, laptops… can´t live without them, but can´t fit them in our backpacks. I guess if we learned to share then we would only need one.
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I finally posted a few pictures of Las Galeras on the website. Head back to prefectlife.net and check out the Travelogue. I’d try to write something mildly entertaining for you, but Mary has been waiting on me to head to the beach and find a color other than pale for the next set of pictures. So you’ll just have to wait.
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Every town has its stories and this is just one of many that we have heard about this one. Twenty years ago the French midget came into town and bought land from the locals for “a pair of shoes”. Over time he developed and sold the land to foreigners for a pretty peso, including the land under our hotel. Well, the country has a controlled title system similar to the states, but disgruntled ex-owners and their relatives who feel they were short changed have made attempts to reclaim the land. So it was that we walked out to the garden one day and noticed a barbed wire fence blocking our access to the beach where there was none the day before. The owner sent his lawyer out within a couple of days but the fence stayed up. Why doesn’t someone just cut it down we wondered? Apparently the guy responsible for the new land line was a known ‘pimp-daddy’ (in your best French accent), dealer, and killed a man in town by stabbing him. So the fence stayed up. Yesterday the fence was taken down for the party this weekend and today the fence is back up. So from our balcony view machete beats paper.
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The Dominicans don’t hunt for eggs here, they prefer debauchery and Easter is their favorite time of year to pursue it. They pack the family into the truck with tents, beer, and rum and head to the beach to check out the action. So yesterday we decided to bike our way over to Playa Rincon. No one in town knew how far it was, but the estimates of a few miles sounded like good exercise. And that was the last time I smiled for the next six hours. The hills rolled more up than down and passing trucks would jeer us more than cheer us on. When we told them where we were headed they called us crazy and made motions to peddle faster. We passed by some lovely countryside but I was too focused on keeping my legs moving to notice. It did concern us a bit when we stopped on the side for some water and a local on a scooter with a red cross on his shirt told us not to stop in a remote area because it was “mucho problema aqui con mafioso”, much problems here without other people around. So that gave us some incentive to keep moving since most of the area was desolate. When I stopped in a small gathering of houses at the top of yet another hill, two girls asked me if I was out of gas. All I could do was to try to hold back my panting. They shook their heads when I answered yes we were going to Rincon. Some locals made it a point to walk past us up hills. The joke was lost on no one except us. When we hit the dirt road and I started bouncing violently from rock to rock with my non-suspension bike the passing vehicles enjoyed the entertainment. I could feel the flab on my arms and the chub in my cheeks gyrating to a Euro house beat. After surviving that trial we finally reached the beach only then to swerve through what felt like quicksand. The 2 hour, and what we think was nearly 10 mile, ride was hellacious on our meagerly padded bums. We devoured our grilled fish and coconut bread then loitered around to see if there was any open space on the boats returning to Las Galeras. That’s right, the boat. Because we knew the way back would be twice as far. Luckily we didn’t know the word shame in Dominican.
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I’ll blame the week silence on the intermittent internet….
View from the grill at Playa Rincon
But some of the delay was good old fashioned US of A laziness.
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After yesterday’s excitement we were looking forward to a nice uneventful day. There was a short but considerable downpour in the morning so we went on a trek for our daily provisions of water, juice, salami, bread and doritos. This time we splurged on peanut butter and crackers for breakfast. Afterwards we negotiated a ride out to Playa Fronton for an exorbant amount of Dominican pesos. This would be our first ride in Caribbean waters and the scenery was more breathtaking than all the brochures and websites we’d seen. Pictures really didn’t do it justice. We rode past huge cliffs with scattered palms and caves. Around a corner the water turned from tidy bowl blue to emerald green and the cliffs opened up to a stretch of sandy beach. There were about 5 other people and a family locals dotted amongst the palms. We walked to the end and jumped over some rocks to find a secluded area that we called home for the day. A little nap here, lunch there, hmm..Steve’s looking red again. As we were having fun with the pagers Steve frolicks in the water and says he found something sharp with his foot. Turns out he stepped on a sea urchin. So we spent the next 20 minutes trying to pry the spines out of his left big toe. The very same big toe that did not get along with the pavement in St. Thomas and ended up losing a chunk of skin a few days earlier. He had a good dozen jabbed into his skin and I sat there with the sharpest object we had, a plastic knife, trying to free the spines from the prison that was Steve’s foot. It really didn’t work, but it did give him an opportunity to practice his zen of accepting pain. In the end he just had to suck it up, not literally cause you bet there’d be pictures of that, and deal with the discomfort. If his foot turns green and he starts seeing purple spots then we’ll deal with that.
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Saturday April 8th – I think…
It’s our 2nd full day in Las Galeras on the northeast corner of the Dominican Republic. We arrived Wednesday morning and found a comfy bus to take us the 4 1/2 hours to our nearest big town – Samana. From there, it was a bouncy cab ride down a 10mile dirt road to our current home. This area is growing very quickly. There are huge walled estates sprinkled in between the somewhat impoverished fishing villages. I suppose nothing here is truly “impoverished”, though. Third world, yes. But there appears to be food and warm weather for all. There’s a lot of dogs running around, but they’re all fat, happy and wearing collars.
We had a bit of excitement today. We spent the morning talking with a Bostonian couple that built a house up the road and walked out to a hidden beach she told us about. Had some great fresh pineapple juice and went back into town. Just after we finished lunch, Mary collapsed at the mercado shopping for juice. She’s fine, of course. The people here were great. Even got a ride back to the hotel from someone. The concensus from the locals was dehydration exacerbated by too much pineapple juice. Who would have thought …
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We made it out! The last couple days were incredibly hectic and we wouldn’t have made it without some incredible help from Weldon. He must have really wanted to see us leave…
We landed right after lunch in St. Thomas and spent the day recovering from the recent lack of sleep. Now we need to figure out how to repack our luggage to fit onto the puddle jumper that will take us to the Dominican Republic tomorrow. It’s amazing how much space all those little DC power adapters take up and how little luggage space a small plane can have.
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