Monday, March 17, 2008

Sept. 2007- New Solar Panels, THE DIG & DAJABON-Haiti Border

August 30th-Sept.21st. Another busy month.

August 30th.
We’re off to Santiago with Kerry &Kathy (Bellagio) and Dave & Liz ( Carry Okies). We left @ 0830 hrs and returned to Luperon by 1800 hrs. Between the three couples we purchased five solar panels. We have in fact two solar panels which produce 50 amps of power, however, the new panels (130 amps) will give us the additional power to help make the fridge more efficient. Ron said he would buy our old panels, so we will sell him one and give him the other as one has a crack in it. Back in Luperon we unloaded our purchases as quickly as possible and rushed off to our dinner date with the UNWIND crew as they were leaving the next morning on a 21 day excursion. Derek asked Randy to be the “keeper of the keys” for their boat.
August 31st.
What a great day!! We went on a tour put on by Janet on SATORI. She technically is an archaeologist and has incredible knowledge on the Dominican Republic and the history of the TAINO people. Twenty four of us loaded into two vans at 0830 hrs. Our first stop was amazing. We walked up a small hill and walked through caves where the TAINO people had lived some 600 years ago. We actually saw a water line which was approx. 50 feet above what is now the high tide line. Janet gave us a fabulous history lesson. This land is owned by Eugeen and Lisanne Blancquart-Dhaene .

On our way to Miamar we stopped at this churchwhich had been refurbished back in the early 80's . We actually wondered why the road was so much nicer in this area and it turned out the Pope was coming for a visit. To make a long story short---all the work was done,plans were changed as it was too far away from Santo Domingo.

Lisanne and Eugeen have done numerous digs on their land and have found incredible treasures which we saw in their museum at their hotel Miramar. We could not believe the quality of the artifacts in their possession. The Santo Domingo museums were nothing in comparison.
When we arrived at Miamar, Lisanne graciously showed us through the museum in small groups explaining what she and her husband have learned about the TAINO people. (What started out 600 hundred years ago as a population of one million Taino persons was destroyed within forty years leaving only 500 people.) Lisanne also explained what started out as an excavation for their 10 room hotel plus restaurant has given Eugeen & Lisanne a museum respected world wide. (Standing beside Randy is Norma, a wonderful lady who lives on her boat in Luperon)

Then came lunch!!! I actually should say feast! The first course was fish soup served in large soup tureens. The soup was followed by platters of assorted salad fixings which included two types of sliced tomatoes, one plain, and one marinated. Next came platters of thinly sliced meat along with bowls of steamed veggies, steamed potatoes, rice and then a vegetable that tasted like mashed potato that had been made into balls and then deep fried in a fine crust. Absolutely DELICIOUS!! Then Liz (Carry Okies) said “Oh my “god” you have to try the beef stew”. We did and it absolutely melted in our mouths.

Hard to see, but this is Lisanne.

After our swims in the beautiful large pool we were all called back to the tables for dessert. We each received large plates with ice cream in the center surrounded by an assortment of fresh fruit. The cherries, we think they were cherries, being freshly picked off the trees by our host/chef/Belgium Prince, yes all of the above. The fruit tasted like a cherry but had three pits inside.

We understand Miamar is open weekends only for lunch and dinner with free use of the pool or you can go and use the pool for 40 pesos-(just over a dollar). We’re thinking this could be a real nice day excursion. The rooms rent for 1000 pesos the first night then 750 pesos each consecutive night. Perfect spot for a short get away.

As our day was coming to a close Janet asked if any of us would be interested in participating in a two day dig. How exciting---a chance of a life time. We will need to commit to two days of digging in the dirt, being taught how to excavate pieces, the handling and cleaning of the artifacts. We will end each day with a meal at Miamar and a swim. I can hardly wait.

Sunday, Sept. 3rd. What have Randy and Bill found????

Esther on UNITY has invited us to her husband Derrick’s 65th Birthday. She has planned a pig roast. We travel in the back of Margie and Brian’s pickup truck with the crew from EXUMA GROUPER plus a local couple who live on shore. We again travel through the lush countryside, ending up on private property bordering the sea. The scenery is absolutely beautiful. There are probably 40 of us. The people who own the

property do not seem organized. Nothing is set up prior to our arrival. We’ve been told the food will be ready around 4pm. Unfortunately we all thought we were coming for lunch. We finally are lead to another large thatched gazebo where a long table is set up. The table in fact will only accommodate about one third of us, so now people are scurrying around. A Hiatsu truck arrives with more tables (these for food). We’re not sure why they weren’t set up before. The pig finally is served and has been literally destroyed. Using tongs one tries to get a piece of meat from the large metal trays. Bone and all has been
chopped into pieces. The long and short of it, we sure wouldn’t bother coming back. At 300 pesos a person, it was poor. To top it off while we were eating the cooks and their helpers started to help themselves to the food. I’ve never seen anything like it. We have to remind ourselves we’re in a foreign country and things will be different. Another DR experience.

Sept. 5th

Randy offered to help Jim, the man who owns the WI-FI. The first day he spent ensuring the tower was straight (as it wasn't) and put additional guy wires in place to make it more stable. The tower is approx. 40 feet high and sits on top of a square cement building. It isn't bolted down and a number of the steps are broken. YIKES!!!

Ron being Rand's ground man
Wednesday Sept. 6th.
We have just listened to the net broadcast. Twice a week the harbor boats review health and safety issues, commercial announcements, misc. for sale, weather reports etc. etc. To-day there was a reminder for everyone to try and get along. Last week there were three fights that we know of. Randy and I joke it’s like a “trailer park” (sorry mom and anyone else living in a mobile home park). Many people seem to know everyone else’s business. All the boats in the harbor monitor channel 68 so when someone calls a person, they in fact go up or down a channel (to a clear channel) and carry on their conversation. Of coarse many who have nothing better to do roam all the channels and listen to everyone else’s conversations. This is why Randy and I prefer to go and “visit” a boat we want to talk to just for a bit of privacy. Half the time I can’t hear the radio anyway.

Randy went back to Puerto Blanco Marina today to help them with their Wi Fi Tower. He spent yesterday morning there ensuring the tower is straight (as it wasn’t) and putting additional guy wires in place for more support. It is approximately forty feet high and sits on top of a square cement building that has a flat roof. It isn’t bolted down and a number of steps are broken. YIKES!!

We have decided to take our Spanish lessons only once a week as we have so many projects to do and we are not getting them done.

Thursday Sept.7th.

We went to Imbert today with Virginia, Ron, Katrina and Caitlin. We found a nice little family run restaurant and had the usual Dominican meal of chicken, beans & rice, and salad. It was a nice break from Luperon.

Friday, Sept. 8th.

We’re off on our excursion to Sosua; to the German butcher and bakery, then on to Caberete; to the beach, and lastly out to the mountains for lunch. There are eight of us in a gua-gua.(hired van). We had a wonderful but long day as we didn’t get back to Luperon until 1800hrs. We basically couldn’t find the restaurant in the mountains. We must have stopped and asked at least ten locals. Many had no idea at all while others would say we’ve

missed the turn “go back down the hill until you see a disco and then there will be a rectangular sign where you turn right”. We still couldn’t find it. We were sent down one very long bumpy road where the gua-gua continually bottomed out. We ended at a Ranch on the Rio Yasica ( river), south of Caberete. Safari trucks full of tourists from an all inclusive were using the site. People were in the river, music was playing but there was no place to buy food or water. We decided to head back to Cabarete and have lunch at an Irish Pub. It was a very quiet trip home as I think we were all exhausted from the heat. (The air-conditioning had decided to break down around 9 am.)
Thurs/Friday Sept 14th and 15th.

The experience was everything I had hoped for. Rand had decided to stay behind and get a few boat projects completed. There were a total of 12 people in the group. The excavation site was a five minute walk from Miamar. We left Puerto Blanco dinghy dock at 0730hrs and returned at 1800 hrs. All morning we dug in dirt approximately 2-3 feet from the surface. We primarily found pieces of pottery, shells, some animal vertebrae (which was used to make

jewellery) and petrified coral. Janet explained due to the fact we were digging in amongst tree roots it would be very difficult to find large pieces of pottery. We dug until noon and then went back to Miamar for a refreshing swim and lunch. We were all absolutely filthy. After lunch we went down to a cleaning work station where we had to scrub our pieces with water and a tooth-brush, set the pieces out to dry and then catalogue them by type and number of pieces. I had three large Ziploc bags myself to clean and catalogue.
Everyone was able to keep two pieces of their choice as a keepsake. Kathy (Bellagio) and I were very fortunate to find two pieces each of engraved pottery that actually fit together.

On Friday we were back on the road by 0730 for another fun but dirty day. I continued to dig where I was yesterday as Janet thought it was a good spot. It in fact was with me finding over eleven individual pieces that Janet thought were all from the same bowl. After bagging these separately I found many more pieces of another pot.
Janet and Eugene took us on a short hike to another site. This site in fact was where a large new road was being made. Sure enough the excavators had pushed dirt and rock to the sides of the cleared area and we found a huge quantity of artifacts in less than an hour. We regretfully had not taken our picks but managed to dig with sticks and small rocks. Because the ground was rocky I kept a good eye on where I placed my feet and sure enough facing upright, right in front of me, was a small pot handle with a three dimensional face. I was ecstatic. Becky from Half Moon found a larger face about 3 inches wide that is gorgeous.

We then headed back to Miamar for another delicious lunch and swim. Then off to do our cleaning and cataloguing. We all seemed very tired from our full two days and were ready to head back to Luperon around 1600hrs.

MONTE CRISTI AND DAJABON (pronounced Dahabon)

Sat. Sept.16th to Mon. Sept.18th.

Leaving Luperon at 0900hrs., we went by taxi to Imbert, by bus from Imbert to Navarette, and changed to a second bus to travel from Navarette to Monte Cristi. We arrived in Monte Cristi by 1400hrs. We traveled with Yvon and Carmel (TAIMA) from Quebec. Walking down the main street and checking out the side streets we came
across a hotel called Don Gaspar. We checked out the rooms and decided for 450 pesos ($12US) they weren’t too bad. After having lunch we decided to hike down to the ocean. We came across large square shallow “lakes”. Men were farming salt. We watched as they scooped shovel loads of salt into wheel barrows and then transfer it into large sheds. Continuing down to the beach we found it very coarse and dark. There were a lot of small rocks and small boulders, many red in color. The sea was very dark and shallow. Walking back to town we stopped for a cerveza and juice as it was so hot.

For dinner we went to a restaurant called El Bistrot which was owned by a French couple who had come to the DR 20 years ago. To make a long story short within an hour after eating Rand was sick with food poisoning.
On Sunday morning Randy decided to stay in the room and rest while Yvon Carmel and I went to hike the National Parque. We hired a moto-concho (motor bike) to take us to the Parque entrance. There were stairs for us to climb the 840 foot hill; however, the entrance was blocked with cross-arms. A guide said this was the only way up and he would take us (carrying his pistol grip shot gun). Many sections of the stairway were in total dis- repair or completely missing. Three quarters of the way up Carmel and I decided we had gone far enough while Yvon and the Guide climbed to the top. The view was beautiful but it was stifling hot.

Yvon, Carmel & our guide with his pistol grip shot gun.

Back in our room Randy was starting to feel better. We had to vacate the room by 1300 hrs and he thought he was well enough to travel so we went and got the bus to Dajabon.

The whole point of going to Dajabon was to experience the Haitian market that happens in Dajabon twice a week. The town of Dajabon is on the border of the DR and Haiti. A river runs between the town and the Haitian border. There is a bridge where the guards try and control how many people enter into the DR at one time. The system is very futile however as the majority of
Haitians just cross the river and do not use the road. It was recommended we arrive in the market very early and leave early. We arrived by 0700 and witnessed the crossings which were mind boggling in their own right. Then we went through the streets where the Haitians set up their wares. We really did not go to make purchases. The experience was like what one sees on T.V. in India’s markets. This is why we went early. As it was, it was crowded not only with people but motor bikes and people on bicycles wanting their share of the road too.. Randy did see a couple of guys getting ready to pick pocket Carmel. Theft is huge here. I had our
extra money in my socks and bra.

What was for sale?? Besides fresh fruit, veggies, spices, huge bags of pastas? There were shoes, shoes, and more shoes…dress shoes, runners, sandals, men’s shoes, ladies shoes, children’s shoes. Jeans, shirts, winter coats, yes winter coats, bras, panties, stuffed toys, used toys. We saw a UN truck across the river. They must have to make a presence but must shake their heads. We understand what is being sold is given to Haiti from the UN. Why would a Haitian need a winter coat?(unless he was trying to get to Canada?)

By 0900 we were heading back to our hotel “Massacre” for breakfast. Our room was 350 pesos for the night (just over ten dollars)….It included only a couple of cockroaches and the shower, well, let’s just say we did not use it.

At one point we had to take cover in the Town Square. It poured so hard we had to jump two foot wide rivers running down the streets.

In all honesty we were pleasantly surprised with the actual town of Dajabon. The streets were fairly clean. There looked like there was a lot of commerce going on. We saw two large banks.

We really enjoyed our three day trip. The bus system works very well, with reasonable prices and run on a regular basis.

Leaving Dajabon we went through fifteen road blocks. We were the only “gringos” on board. Not once were we asked for our passports. We believe they were primarily doing head counts to ensure the bus had not picked up any Haitians along the way.

Tuesday, Sept.19th

I had a catch up water-color lesson this morning. Tonight we are having dinner with the Enterprise crew as Virginia is taking the girls home for a surprise visit to her parents and sister. We’ve also had to cancel tomorrow’s Spanish lesson as we are going to Santiago.

Wed. Sept. 20th

Off to Santiago with Jeanette and Bill, Kathy and Kerry. When we go on these excursions we rent a gua-gua for the day. The driver and van stay with us all day and take us where we need to go. It is a system that works very well especially when we are provisioning. The town of Santiago is so large we would not be able to accomplish everything on our lists let alone carry it all.

This trip us women were dropped off downtown and the men ran around to all the hardware, stainless steel type stores etc. etc. We ladies hit the fabric store, clothing stores plus our main mission was finding water- color supplies. By 2:30 the men met up with us and we finished off the day by getting groceries.

Randy and I are ready for a REST!!!! And people wonder what we do all day.

As I finally put my notes from the past few weeks into”word”, Randy is working on the wiring for the new solar panels. What happened to resting?? Manana

1 comment:

Agneta said...


I'm a girl from Belgium. My parents are looking for the adress of Eugeen & Lisanne. Before Eugeen & Lisanne moved to the Dom. Rep. they've worked there.
All the contacts were broken.
Can you help us to find them ?
An e-mail adresse?

You can mail me to :