I can't be held responsible for the things I say or write...

2.22.2009

The Dominican Republic...

is amazing. Mainly because Ruddiger wasn't there. Just kidding. That was my little joke last post. I don't hate Ruddiger. I don't not like him at all. He's just swell. So if I made anyone uncomfortable or caused anyone to spontaneously make fun of me for the last month because of a fictitious disliking of someone, I'd just like to say I was kidding.

Is fictitious the right word? I wanted to write fictionous but I don't think that's a word. It should be though.

Anyway, this is my guidebook to the Dominican Republic.

The wife and I flew in on a Saturday landing around 1 pm. We walked through customs and all that fairly simply, collected our baggage and then walked the red carpet. For anyone that's never been to a Central American, Latin American or Caribbean country, the red carpet is when you walk out of the airport through 2 lines of cab driver and other assorted random people who look like they want to offer you a ride, take your money or dance with your dates. Either way, this is usually where I start to freak out a little. But not this time. This time, i was focused and ready to go. Why? Well, the first part of our trip was renting a car.

That was easy. Then we got in the car. It was small. It was a Kia Picanto. It was not made for what we did, but that added the fun to it. For starters, the DR has a new highway that is 1 lane in each direction. Fortunately, there are no driving laws in the DR so at first I was nervous but then extremely excited. No laws meant I go to drive like a teenager again only this time with no problems. Passing on the other side of the double yellow, speed limits, cows, all of that was cool. So this little Picanto, myself and the wife get through the highway with no problem and then onto the local roads. Our map comes out of a guidebook so all we have is the street signs and the towns listed on the maps to get us there. This works no problem, save for a little nervousness...but a lot of laughter. Part of the laughter came from this:

Those are cows and they were in the middle of the road. AWESOME.

So about 1000 potholes later, we make it to our location: Las Galeras, which is in the far east part of the Samana Peninsula. This place was pretty awesome. It's a small town on a dirt road. The dirt road runs into a beach. The beach there is actually not all that awesome because there is a ton of shit in the water. However, if you swim out 25 feet, you're in clear blue water. We stayed at a hotel type establishment called Villa La Plantacion. This place was pretty sweet too and had a circular pool right outside of our room. Our room is the one on the bottom floor, second from the left. It had a bed and a bathroom...and that was all we needed.


We eventually walked down the beach right there and watched the sunset, so there were redeeming qualities of the location. The next morning we got up and walked as far as we could down the beach, which took us through a resort. A coconut almost fell on us and I got to break it open...that was fun. Eventually we found our way back to our beach and took our only swim in the water. Where we went in was really clear and we saw a lot of little fish swimming around. This would be the only time we'd go in this water. Why? Well....

We knew there were really nice beaches around and knew there was one in walking distance, so off we went. It was about a 20 minute walk through a dirt road that ran by a few homes and eventually put us out on an amazing beach. The water was filled with plant life as well as what looked like an open water part. There appeared to be a path cut out so we could walk out to the swimming spot. It turns out that out there is a bunch of reef formations with a ton of fish, urchins, etc. living and swimming. We brought our goggles with us, so we had some awesome views of marine life.

We ended up going to this beach 3 times in total because it was pretty amazing and easy to get to. At no point were there ever more than 20 people on the beach with us. Also, there were 2 restaurants on the beach, one which took 2 hours to bring us food and the other which already had food cooked and waited for you to show up. If we did it again, we'd wait 2 hours because the second place we went was kind of nasty.

But hey, you can't beat the fact that it's got it's head on it still, right?

Our days pretty much consisted of what beach did we want to go to that day? The best beach to see is Playa Rincon. We had an offer for $55 each to not only go to Rincon but also get a tour of most of Las Galeras. On this trip we were taken by a fruit stand with gigantic avocados, taken to a what was called a plantation where they grew all sorts of vegetables as well chocolate...it grows on trees? Also, they grew their own coffee beans, so we sat down and had a small glass...and we met some of the local kids.

These kids saw us drive by and chased us down the dirt path that our tour guide drove us down on his dirt bike and our ATV.
Oh yeah, I got to drive an ATV all freakin day! It was great. The roads were not good. They were rocky, filled with giant holes, water, whatever, but it was the shit.

So after the plantation, we eventually made our way to the best beach I've ever been to in my life. It was the clearest water I've ever been in...including pools. We tried to measure how deep it was in certain spots where it was completely clear and we estimated around 14 feet. Our scientific way of measuring was the wife would swim to the bottom and I'd push myself underwater until I stood on her shoulders. My head was still a few feet under, so there you have it.
This is where we had our lunch...with this view. Just amazing.

Eventually we got back on the road and raced a kid on a horse. Seriously.
We were going around 25 mph when he caught up and passed us. It was cool. He then slowed down to stop and his little brother who tried to keep up almost ran right into the back of him with his horse. Sweet.

Our tour ended at what was called "El Boca Del Diablos" or The Mouth of the Devils. Why? Well, apparently, the water crashes below these rocks and makes this howling noise through a hole in the rocks. It was a calm day at sea so there wasn't too much noise but the wind coming through was pretty crazy. video

It was totally worth the money we spent on it. If you ever go down there, go to Augusto Tours and do this trip. We saw so many amazing things that we would never had seen if we drove to that beach on our own...plus I got to drive the ATV, so yeah, it's worth it.

The next day we decided to go to this other beach that was spoken highly of called Playa Fronton. It was amazing too. Why? Because swimming in there was like swimming in an aquarium as the wife so intelligently put. It seriously was. The water was deep and full of sea life. Reefs, plants, fish, urchins, so many things we saw and it was just as clear as the water at Rincon.
Also, this beach was at the foot of the jungle, so it was pretty secluded. There were only 16 other people there and I know this because we all took 2 boats back...at the beginning of a storm...with the water incredibly rough and choppy. We were on tiny wooden boats going by huge rock formations and getting drenched. It was a perfect ending to an amazing beach.

Also, once we first got to the beach, this guy came up and said he would cut us down a coconut so we could drink the milk.
It was amazing. This dude just walked up the tree, cut 2 down, cut them open and handed them over. When we were down, i broke one completely open and we ate the coconut inside.

From there, we just spent our days at the beach and our evenings at one of the 6 local restaurants. It was extremely relaxing and pleasant. We managed to meet about 10 Americans, most of whom were from New York, 2 of which live about 10 blocks from us. Besides that, most people were French. Lots of French folk. The guy who ran our hotel was also a Frenchman. Not sure what this means, but just letting you know, you know?

Where we were wasn't the cheapest place, however. We spent about $30-40 a meal and because we didn't have a kitchen, all of our meal were out. That gave us a great chance to sample the local cuisine as well as spend all that money we work so hard to earn.

Our last day was spent in Santo Domingo. This meant we got back in our Kia Picanto, drove over all the potholes again, back on the highway and into a downtown city. It was really exciting to drive in this kind of environment and a little crazy, but I'm happy i had a chance to do it. I'm also happy we went to Santo Domingo because that means if we go back to the DR, we can spend our entire time in Las Galeras. We spent our day in Santo Domingo touring around the historic part of Santo Domingo. Unfortunately, I pissed someone off and ended up in jail. Oops.

The best part about our trip was that every day I was surprised. Surprised by the quality of the beaches, surprised by the amazing views, surprised by the ride on the boat that was also scary and surprised by the level of comfort I felt there. The only part that wasn't enjoyable was writing this post...because it means that this vacation is over and it was one of the best I've ever had.