Monday, March 17, 2008

October in the DR..

We continue to go to the Sunday Swap N Shops. It is a great time for Net Working.

Jeanette invited Kathy and I along to see a parade in La Isabella for Christopher Columbus Days.

We ran into Liz & Dave (Carrey Oakies). They rented a motor bike for the day.

Oct. 13th.

Sybil and Hanns had a grand opening for their new restaurant.....Route 66 A large group of us helped them celebrate. They will specialize in Hamburgers but for tonight they had a special
German menu.

Jeanette and Bill (Sea Lion)

Wendy (Merengue)
Kerry (Bellagio)
Donna (Naomi Marie)

Randy with his buddy Derek

Janet on the left and her hubby Chuck (on the far right)

Kathy (Bellagio) & Jim (Merengue)

On Sunday Oct. 21st we went on what we feel will be our last mini excursion seeing the Dominican Republic. We rented a Nissan with our travel companions Jeanette and Bill (Sea Lion) and Kathy and Kerry (Bellagio).

Traveling East for almost 6 hours we arrived in the seaside village of Las Galeras . We spent three nights in a very nice, fairly clean cottage. Our cottage in fact was a duplex which we shared with Kathy and Kerry. We had a huge entrance

patio where we all would meet for happy hour. Our sleeping area was up in a loft. We had the odd resident cockroach and many large sphere shaped spiders however; they didn’t seem to want to bother us.

What we truly enjoyed was the lack of humidity. We weren’t constantly “greasy”. It was nice to feel what we remember as being normal. We did have rainstorms during the nights and mornings.

We rented ATV’s for a day. Our guide took us on a tour through the beautiful country-side. We made a number of stops along the way. Our first break was a small “farm”. The family grew coffee, cocoa, sugar cane, passion fruit, plus grapefruit, bananas, and pineapple. We were offered a snack of coffee, bananas in shredded cocoa and pieces of sugar cane.

Then off to the seashore where we “zoomed” along in the sand. We had a quick dip in an incredibly transparent stream. It was to cold and blustery to stay in for long, but we felt it was a chance of a lifetime.

Our lunch was served at the home of the ATV owner. Augusto’s family prepared a typical Dominican lunch which included Rice & Beans, Green Salad,(which is usually cabbage and tomato served with oil and vinegar dressing), fried chicken, fried fish, plus French fries….Yes fried, fried, fried.

After lunch we went to Boca del Diablo; Mouth of the Devil which is a renowned blow hole. We all enjoyed standing on the edge letting the strong winds trying to push us around.

We had a wonderful full day seeing many small communities where many children would rush out to greet us as we drove by. They would wave madly. It was not until much later we realized they wanted us to throw them pesos. Randy and I commented to one another though how clean the yards were compared to Luperon. Many women were out sweeping their yards of russet colored clay.

On our second day we traveled to Las Terrenas. This former fishing village has grown to a tourist destination. The town is booming with construction. The vehicle traffic was terrible. Hopefully when the construction winds down they’ll either stop the flow of traffic in the town center or at least divert it. It was impossible to find a nice quiet place for lunch.

Leaving Las Terrenas we headed for the infamous El Limon 50 meter Waterfall. The waterfall was accessible only by a twenty minute horseback ride and then a ten minute hike. The trail was quite dangerous for horse and rider. The terrain was not only steep, but due to the torrential rainfall the trail was really slippery. Even the walking hike was very slippery and steep. The waterfall was gorgeous. At the base of the falls the guide books had noted there was a swimming hole, however, to us the current seemed too swift.

Jeanet & Kathy with me

Wednesday morning we were up early to get ourselves packed and on the road by 0900hrs. We wanted to be back in Samana in time for the 01100 “ferry” ride over to Parque Nacional Los Haitises. Well, the ferry was a sixty foot passenger boat. There were probably forty people on board. It was too shallow to dock at the dock so a skiff came out to retrieve us all. It was every man woman or child for themselves. We couldn’t believe all the pushing and shoving. We elected to wait for the second trip to shore. Of course as we tried to get out of the skiff with our luggage, a number of young children jumped onto the skiff and tried to grab our luggage out of our hands “to help us”. We literally had to grab our luggage from their hands and say a firm “No Gracias”. Moto-conchos were in abundance. Finally after quite a bit of bartering a truck came and picked us up and took us to Parasio Cano Honda. We managed to agree on 2000 pesos (sixty dollars) return.

Parasio Cano Honda is in the Parque Nacional and it is fabulous. The owner had a wonderful dream that he is in the process of bringing to fruition. One rustic building housed six rooms which is where we stayed. Our room was rustic, with actual pieces of leaves implanted in the ceiling adding to the ambience. We had a small deck with a hammock. Unfortunately we could not take benefit of the deck as there were so many bugs. Three meals were to be included in our rate and unfortunately two of the three were very disappointing. Upon arriving we booked two tours for the next day. The first one would be a 2.5 hr. hiking tour through part of the twelve hundred square kilometer park. The second tour would be by boat through the countries largest unblemished stretch of red and white mangroves.

What we truly enjoyed was relaxing in a few of the twelve fresh water pools at Cano Honda. Slowly but surely the owner is building massive waterfalls which pour into pools of fresh water. One was long enough to do lengths in. We all had fun standing under the waterfalls with the water pounding on our heads and necks. A great way for a massage!!!

Jeanette and Bill decided not to go on the walking tour. Now looking back it was a very wise decision. To put it mildly the hike was very difficult. Again due to the heavy rains the trail was slick and steep. At many points there in fact was no trail. We were in a jungle. Unfortunately we had difficulty communicating with our guide. We all tried and managed to grasp what each other was saying only to a certain point. By the time we reached an information station we decided not to rest and just carry on as we were constantly attacked by mosquitoes even though we all had heavily sprayed ourselves with Deet. We hate the stuff but we did not have a choice.

We told our guide Ernesto we wanted to move on. As we began climbing uphill again, at times on our hands and knees, we arrived at a cave. We all asked “We’re going in there”? Ernesto said “You signed up for an adventure, No”???? So, in we crawled. It was absolutely pitch black, we could not see our nose…Finally we had a bit of light from Ernesto’s cell phone. Like I say, a bit of light.. We had to check our every step. I think we were all a bit stressed at this point, I know I was. Finally leaving the cave behind us we had a short walk to what ended as a beautiful bay totally

enclosed with high rocks on three of four sides. Ernesto in fact said we did the walk in 1.5 hours instead of the normal 2.5 hours, the quickest anyone had ever completed it in. We laughed and explained it was probably because of all the bugs. Our next tour was to start from this point and we were an hour early. We spent the time trying to clean ourselves and we were so thankful that Bill and Jeanette were not with us. We do not think they would have had a good time. Of course now Ernesto’s cell phone would not work, which was not a good thing. Shortly there after we heard the roar of a speed boat and sure enough racing around the corner came what looked like a cigarette boat, not with just Bill and Jeanette but a large German tour group. They looked at the five of us in awe, wondering where the heck we had come from. Like Rand said---it was as if we had just completed a day at Survivor.

The boat trip took us to a number of Taino caves. The German tour operator was most gracious to us, explaining the sights in English and making us all feel like we were part of his group.

We ended the tour back a Cano Honda where we had a great buffet lunch. Then it was time for us to pack up and get ready for our trip back to Samana. By 1630 we were in the car heading for Cabrera.
We had planned to spend the night at La Catalina. Of course it had started to rain again and as it started to get dark we had a hard time finding our way.. Up and down hills, we made many turns not the right way. Finally we found the place, signed in and were taken to our rooms. It turned out we shared a two bedroom, two bathroom condo with Kathy and Kerry. It had private patios and a full kitchen, living area. Beautiful…..Rand actually managed to get the internet on the patio which was a great bonus.

We all met for dinner in the dining room. Because the hotel was full of a golfing tour group the dinner menu was pre- set and was delicious. I had lobster tails and Rand had steak. Our morning breakfast was included in the room rate and again was delicious. The rain continued all night and into the morning, so we decided we would not spend any time in the pool and instead head to Sosua to the German deli and then on to Caberette for some shopping.

From Caberette to Luperon it continued to rain. When the rain stopped the humidity got intense. We knew we were getting closer to home. We barely got our luggage onto the boats when it started to pour again. Welcome back to Luperon!!

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