11/14/2008, Luperon DR
Nov. 14 2008
We have been spending a little time each day at the beach, which is about a 15 minute
walk. The winds are light in the morning and pick up later in the day. The water is warm and just right for swimming. Nancy has had a great time collecting sea glass on the beach. There will be none left for others to find I fear. Other times we often go to the marina where many of the cruisers hang out. Today Rosa gave us a ride around the harbor in their dinghy. There are around 100 boats in the harbor right now which we were told is less than last summer season. Many of the boats have been left here for the summer and the owners will be returning. Yesterday we watched a single-handed sailor leave the harbor from the view at the beach. He left with no motor and looked to be having a great day sailing as he made his way north. It will take him all night and part of another day before he reaches land at the Turks and Caicos. The weather has been great. Because we are staying here with people who live here and speak the language and not at a resort this is turning out to be a great experience. We are also meeting many very friendly cruisers who have been staying here for an extended time. This place draws people here who sometimes stay much longer than they had planned. It is easy to see why.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Since this was our last day to have use of the rental car, we decided to go to Santiago for the afternoon. We had to meet the Budget Rental Car agent in Imbert at 5:40 PM so he could take us back to the apartment. We chose to meet him at the halfway point.
Santiago is the second largest city in the Dominican Republic, and is located about 1 hour drive over the mountains and into the center of the Cibao Valley. The valley stretches across the island between the mountain ranges, from one end of the island to the other. We learned of the strategic importance when we learned some of the history of the island. It afforded the Dominicans a view of the Spanish troops who had invaded the island. The Restoration War allowed them to reestablish their independence by the year 1865. They celebrate their independence every year on February 27 with a huge carnival. We toured the monument in the center of the city and took some pictures of the valley from the top of the monument.
11/07/2008, Dominican Republic
Sunday, November 2, 2008
A very exciting start for our third year of cruising. We have gone from the beautiful fall colors of Minnesota to the lush, green, tropical island of the Dominican Republic. A month here before we return to our boat up in the Bahamas for the rest of the winter season. We expect to spend much our time in the Exumas after the first of the year.
We have had an interesting beginning to our trip to the DR. It is not recommended that you arrive late in the day, rent a car, and attempt to drive in the dark to Luperon from the Puerta Plata airport. Rosa said as much, but we thought we knew better! There are loose burros, horses and goats, motor scooters all around both sides of your car, cars passing and driving at careening rates, and people of all ages walking along the road or standing very close to the edge of the road! It made for a very exciting drive to the apartment! This, in addition to the fact that there are not many signs and not easy to see signage in the dark! Often the motorcycles don't even have lights! The large trucks ride the center line of the road! Take heed!
We drove around for an hour or more trying to locate our apartment. We had initiated our Sprint cell phone for use in the DR once we arrived, but we could not get reception on our phone, and we tried to connect with them on the VHF radio. No luck. We ended up at a marina where they knew our hosts and they were able to call them for us. Rosa arrived within 10 minutes to lead us home! She scolded us for making her worry!
Our hosts, Rosa and Bruce Van Sant, have lived on the island several years and have been so helpful to us! We are renting a studio apartment in the lower level of their beautiful home. Some of the photos in the photo gallery are looking out from our patio, where we spend most of our time!
Monday, November 3, 2008
We slept a lot! After approximately 24 hours of traveling by air and sleeping in airports in Orlando and Miami, we were exhausted! Then the drive last night! We got in after 8:30 PM. We spent time organizing our room, getting our GSM phone initiated, getting money changed to pesos, and talking to Rosa. Our hosts invited us for appetizers and we spent several hours talking about our experiences and they shared theirs'. It was a lovely evening, overlooking the beautiful Luperon harbor.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Rosa suggested that we should see the waterfalls near here and she went with us on our second day to the waterfalls. We didn't know we were going to get to swim in and slide down the waterfalls! Our guides assisted us up seven levels of rushing water falls and coaxed us into jumping around 20 feet into the river at the end! One of the guides, Jose, is Rosa's nephew; who treated us very kindly. See photos in the gallery! Great fun!
We stopped at Ocean World and looked the marina over, and discovered that even when calm, boats in the slips move around a lot. The Lifestyle Hacienda Resort sales people saw us walking around and offered us lots of options to purchase, took us to a 12-person villa, and showed us around there all inclusive resort. The place has many villas and offer everything you could possibly want! (In case you are interested in spending time at a resort).
All this left us hungry and needing a rest. Rosa took us to one of her favorite restaurants, where we chose our fish, two large snappers, and fixings, rice and beans, conch stew, a shark meatball, fried sweet potato, and boiled bananas. While they cooked our fish in deep oil (the whole fish!), we ate the rest of the meal, and had a cold beer. It was great! When the fish came we hardly had room for it, but it was worth the wait!
Next stop, Rosa directed us to her favorite super mercado in Puerta Plata, where she grew up. Thank heavens for Rosa, who helped us find the right groceries and everything we needed. This was a long day and so we headed home.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
We decided we wanted to keep our rental car for a couple of additional days, and so we went to take care of the car, and we needed additional minutes on our phone and more pesos! Luperon is a busy little town, with one stoplight which doesn't work. It is where cruisers spend a lot of time, and we met up with some liveaboards there. Also we drove to El Castillo where we walked on the beach. Lovely beach! We plan to go back tomorrow to see where Christopher Columbus established the first settlement in the New World. Puerta Blanco Marina was very helpful the other night, and we went back for sandwiches.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
We awake every morning to a beautiful sunrise over the mountains and overlooking the misty Luperon harbor. The tropical birds are singing and the roosters crowing. The cicadas and crickets start up as soon as the sun is high enough. For breakfast we have papaya and sweet bananas and eggs or cereal. Then we plan what to do today. We decided since we still have our car, that we would go to check out the Luperon Resort, the beautiful beach in El Castillo we were at yesterday, and that we would walk around the ruins from Christopher Columbus' first settlement in the New World, which they have made into a national park. Our guide did not speak any English, and of course our Spanish is muy malo, so we tried to pick up as much as we could with gestures and understanding a word or two! He showed us Admiral Columbus' home on the pick of spots overlooking the bay, their church, several smaller homes and buildings, and their cemetery. The ruins were inadvertently destroyed back in the 1950's when the dictator Trujillo ordered the site cleaned up in preparation for a visit by Spanish archaeologists. The Dominican Republic has tried to restore the site, but there is more work to do. Our guide took us into the museo to see a replica of the Santa Maria which was destroyed on Christmas on a shore west of here; he showed us artifacts such as: tools, metals, money, pots, grinding stones, and jewelry that are believed to be from that time. Our guide also took us to a shop where they make figures from petrified wood, where we purchased a couple of items. We headed to the beach to spend only an hour (the temperature is around 87 degrees and more than an hour in the sun could be disastrous!), we swam in the azure colored water the temperature of your bathtub! Then we headed to a restaurant on the beach, Maryln Mariscos where they serve fish caught today: red snapper, which she prepared to perfection! Then we headed home to get there soon after dark!
Friday, November 7, 2008
Our first experience with rain came over night. It came down in buckets! Our hosts will be very happy as this fills up their water cistern. We are watching the hurricane Paloma, which is anticipated to be over Cuba by tonight or tomorrow. It is not expected to head this direction but our host, Bruce, tells us that we do not feel the effects here because of the high mountains. We hope to drive to Santiago in the mountains today if the rains are not a problem.