Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic one
23 March 2023 | Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic
Dave | 80 every day
It is Feb 21st, 2023. We are now in the Dominican Republic. Here is a little recap of the last six weeks in the Caribbean. We got into Puerto Rico after a grueling red eye flight out of Seattle to Washington DC to Puerto Rico. We were dog tired when we got there not being able to do much sleeping on the plane. We got a shuttle to our rental car company. When we got there there were lots of unhappy people we were just the newest ones. Seems the rental car company had rented out all the cars and no other rental car company had any available until maybe later in the day and it started raining hard. We did not have a number for a taxi and did not see any on the street so decided to take the shuttle back to the airport and get a taxi there. At the airport we found some much needed food and coffee but were just worn out and needed sleep. We got a taxi to take us to our Airbnb without further issue. We checked in and took a long nap. Waking later in the early evening and the landlord had told us there really was no restaurants nearby. She did not speak any English but did offer to drive me over to a convenience store. So we spent out first night in Puerto Rico eating potato chips, cookies and some grub left over from our snack stash. No biggy we are used to issues such as this and took it in stride. The next day we got a number for a taxi and were able to rent a car. Now we were able to go eat and go to the grocery store. When you book a place in a foreign country proximity to food in a consideration as you expect to be totally lost when you get there. This Airbnb had said it was a walk to the grocery store, and it was, once you know where to walk to, and was about 30 minutes walk at that. All part of the great adventure. Did not take long to figure out traffic in San Juan was terrible, scary and confusing. We did a little exploring that first day but not too far out yet. The following day we had a plan to go out to a beach we had heard about. Got a little lost on the way and were a bit disappointed when we got there. This was a bit of a local beach and was covered with garbage. We had a nice dinner there and headed home. We were not sure how long we would stay in Puerto Rico before heading over to the next island of the Dominican Republic. One thing we had wanted to see was the old fort of San Juan. To get there we had to drive through the middle of town in the worst traffic. We went the wrong way and had to circle back. When we did get up to the old areas there was no parking to be had, and traffic was bumper to bumper. And it started raining hard. We came to the conclusion that if one wanted to see the fort areas it would be best to be dropped off by bus or taxi. We have seen lots of old port forts in our travels so felt we had seen enough of it and did not want to come back to the inner city again. There are a couple beach hotel strips close to the city with all the high end shopping and trendy restaurants, but that is exactly what we try to avoid. The following day, our third, we decided to drive as far to the east end of the island and around to the south as time would allow in a day. It was quite interesting exploring places not many tourist go. I felt like it was a bit like east L.A. Lots of indications that you were in a Spanish speaking and impoverished country, with big name American businesses in abundance, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McD’s, Burger King, WalMart… We found little fishing villages, small neighborhoods and lots of tropical growth. This end of the island is the wettest part with a rain forest. We headed home after finding dinner, it was a fun day. The next day we headed out in the other direction to the west heading for a different beach that we had heard good things about. After a bit of recon we found it. It was small but had a few restaurants right on the water and was not like the big tourist beaches in town. We hang out that afternoon, had a nice dinner on the beach watching the sunset. Since we got here we had been looking for a long term place to stay but was not finding anything we could afford. We had read that Puerto Rico was expensive. No more than the US except for imported items, but much more then Mexico or even southern Europe. The next day we drove across the island over the mountains to the southern side. It was much more arid on this side and more picturesque driving. We drove along the south shore and back up the west side heading for a beach area we had heard of named Rincon. This turned out to be the place we should have gotten an Airbnb. Right up our alley, a little funky surf town. By this time we had already decided we would take the ferry over to the Dominican the following day. We enjoyed another great day at a funky little beach bar and then drove a bit further up the coast discovering another little place that had a great malecon (concrete path along the shore). We had a great walk and ate ice cream watching the sun set on the water. The next day we turned in the car and got a taxi to take us to the ferry. The ferry is an over night affair. We could have taken a flight for the same money but would have gotten us in at a poor time to arrive. We like to get to places in the daylight if possible and then find a safe place to land. The ferry is more like a little cruise ship that locals take to have a little holiday fun. It is not a US or first world type of cruise ship. Being probably 50 years old with rooms on the utilitarian side, but just fine for us. So we were the only “Gringos” on the boat, just like we like it! They had a little entertainment, band, dancers and even a magician! We enjoyed to trip, dinner buffet and had a good nights sleep, albeit in separate small beds. We woke up to breakfast buffet and arrived in port the next morning. The downtown area looked pretty sketchy and we had read that one should be cautious in Santa Domingo. We found an old guy offering us a taxi, he looked harmless so we headed out to the parking lot with him, to find his “taxi’ was his personal car and had seen better days. No air conditioning, cracked windshield, tired everything, but he got us to the bus station. When we arrived at the bus he TOLD us to get on as the bus was just leaving. He stopped it for us and we waved goodbye to our new friend. The bus was packed, this was no tourist bus but a locals bus, old and cramped. We felt right at home. The temps were not too bad, in the eighties, but a little warm with no A/C or bathroom. Hopefully it will not take that long to get to the place we were headed. We had read about places in the Dominican. There are several “All Inclusive” resorts on the east coast, so we avoid those. But up north there is a small area called Las Terrenas. It boasts empty beaches, few big hotels, and a very multicultural experience, sounded like us. We arrived safely with our Airbnb sending a taxi to pick us up. Good thing because the little station was crowded with people and moto taxis competing to get fares. A moto taxi is a small motorcycle (typical 150cc). You just get on the back carrying what you can for a fare of $1 to $2. Full size taxis are few and far between. Arriving at our new HOME we were greeted and made to feel at home. We had a fairly large place, definitely a second world standard, but a good bed, hot water shower and a pool and veranda, just like we like it. And two large Rhodesian Ridgebacks to keep us safe. Stay tuned for more of our Dominican adventure. Addendum: A little delayed getting this posted, it is now March 23rd. We rented a quad to get around town and see a bit out of walking distance. All of the rental places wanted over $1,000 a month, not much of a break off the daily rate of $45. I posted a notice on one of the local F.B. forums and got the name of a guy who rents his out. So we got one four $400. Seemed like a great deal, except the guy said he would drop it off to us and then canceled the date and time to pick it up several times. I offered to take a taxi to his place but he said he would prefer to drop it off. So we finally get it and out four wheeling we go whoopie, except it broke the second day we had it. Took him a couple days to fix it and get it back to us. It had been leaking oil, but he said don’t worry about it as it just leaked a little. I told him it sounded bad, rattled a lot, he says it was just low on oil. Next day the engine blew up and we had to push the dam thing in heavy traffic. Then he tells us it’s our fault because we must have over reeved it (couldn’t have been the fact that it had probably ran out of oil a few times). So we were out $350 as he had given us a $50 discount due to it being delayed on arrival. So now we still needed one. Leiann was not interested in a scooter as the motorcycle traffic here is crazy, bikes flying between cars and each other pulling wheelie’s. So we end up finding another one for $600 (at a dealer) this time, old but has now worked fine for nearly two months. We are often out late to music events so it is nice to have to get back home, not to mention the grocery store run. After being told that there is little to no live music in town we have been able to find some and help promote more. I have been taking bass lessons for a local who speaks little English and my Spanish is terrible, but we have fun. Samana Santa (the holy week in Latin America) is coming up on April 1. We have been warned that is it total loco here that week, don’t expect there to be any money in the ATM’s, grocery stored will be picked clean, no place to park anything, bodies every ware as all of the Dominican Republic all come here for the week. Soooo, we are taking a trip to the capital port of Santa Domingo for the week, everyone says it will be a ghost town as everyone will come here. So we will post some more of that visit next. We have decided to make a side trip over to our home away from home La Paz, Mexico in May as we have many friends there. Stay tuned.
01 January 2023 | Sea Tac
Dave Scee | Kool
We are sitting in SeaTac, it's December 31, 2022 and we will board our plane at 11:25 heading out once again on another Chrysalis Adventure. We will spend some time in Puerto Rico and then head over to the Dominican Republic and figure it out from there. We will only be gone four months this trip. This year for the first time in eight years we stayed home for Christmas per our grandson Benny's request and so got to see snow for the first time in years. Next year we will not be staying and will head off to Thailand in September. Our summer, fall and the beginnings of winter have been action packed as usual with lots of fun activities with grand kids, family and friends. We came back from Zihuatanejo last spring, broke the motor home out of storage and within in a few days were settled back in our state side home. We camped out at our kids property several times this summer so the kids could come out and ride dirt bikes, dune buggy, zip line, rope swing, weenie and marshmallow roasting, to their hearts content. Lots of summer sun after spring rains. Go cart racing with boys. Crabbing, fishing and boating. Grandson's football games, hockey and basket ball games to attend and cheer them on. Lots of time with friends and family, a wedding (no funeral). We traded in Leiann Pathfinder for and economical Prius, with gas prices at $5 gal. We also traded in our motor home this year for a 5th wheel that will now be permanently parked on a new lot we bought, which will make coming back and staying a little easier. Winter started with a vengeance, with temps below freezing. We are ready to head back to the tropics. We have a rental car and an Airbnb waiting for us tomorrow. We will certainly be posting some pix of warm sand, palm trees and blue waters just to tease our friends a little. Stay tuned for more Chrysalis Adventures
04 March 2022 | Zihuatenajo, Mexico
Leiann Scee | Nice and warm 80's
Today is March 5th, 2022. I decided I should get off my butt and write up a blog post as it has been almost a year since I wrote the last one, lots has changed since then. I had to go back and reread the last post to see where I had left off. Last year we were in La Paz, Mexico planning our return to the states and planning our trip to Asia in the fall. We were able to sell our boat, car, household stuff, tools and gave away the rest. This was after staying three winters in La Paz. Returning home we pulled our motor home out of storage, picked up our vehicles and were back in our campsite at Thousand Trails within a week as if we had never left. We spent the summer with the family and grand kids going boating, swimming, dirt biking, go carting as well as helped our daughter and son in law clear their property. Lots of great family and friend connections. As is our normal now we freeze when we go home, our bodies have acclimated to tropical climates. As was the case for everybody, COVID was an ever present issue. We got vacs but worried for grand kids that eventually got the virus. Lots of friends also got it and a few died from it. Like everyone else we look forward to putting it behind us. We had planned to head out for Asia this season, but COVID put an end to those plans and travel to Asia closed down. So we changed our plans and headed back to Mexico, however this time a bit further south to a little town called Zihautanejo (pronounced Zee Wat Tin Nay Ho). We had been here on our boat headed south ten years ago. We had great memories of the place and looked forward to coming back. The town was made famous in the movie Shawshank Redemption. It was at one time a sleepy little fishing village like Cabo and many other major tourist destinations in Mexico. Next to Zihua (as locals call it) is Ixtapa a major tourist spot. We don’t spend much time over there preferring the smallness of Zihua. It has grown a lot since we were here before, but is still a small walk-able and safe town. Within a couple of weeks being here we had a hurricane hit (Rick). We spent a nervous night hunkered down in our apartment watching the weather on our computers. We lost electricity a couple times and had no idea how bad it was going to get as it hit Zihua as a Cat 2. The next morning we headed out to explore the damage. Lots of still flooded streets, roofs torn off buildings, trees down, power wires down, but all in all it could have been much worse. Within a few days the locals had everything cleaned up like it never happened. Our first little place was in a local Mexican family “compound” with kids, dogs, grand parents, four families all living there and us. We loved it but discovered one problem we could not live with. The toilet was so close to the wall your knees hit and after Leiann developed bruises decided we needed to find something else. Within a mater of a week we had found better accommodations and rented it till the middle of April when we would be leaving. Leiann wanted to go see the Monarch Butterflies so we set up a trip with a couple friends. We found a tour guide “Carlos” who agreed to take us for a great deal of $300 a piece. We had been quoted $600 elsewhere, so this was a deal. The first day we visited the “copper town” where local artisans have been making copper items, vases, plates, bowls, artworks for many years. The buildings of the town are of the 1600s and are UNESCO protected. Streets are cobble stone, buildings are all white and red with rough hewn timber ceiling beams. Also we visited a beautiful park and waterfalls, arriving in Morelia in the late afternoon. We did not expect Morelia to be what it is, a Spanish conquest dating to the 1500s. A grand square with beautiful churches and a historical area. We could have spent an entire day here alone. But we saw what we could in an evening hitting bed early as we had to be up at 6am to head up the mountains to see the butterflies. After a three hour ride in the van we then changed out to horses to get up the steep mountain (at 10,000 feet) to where the Monarchs return every year after their 2,000 mile flight from the US. For Leiann getting on a horse was a huge deal, first horse ride in 22 years. That is how much she wanted to see the butterflies. We needed to get up there before the sun hits the butterflies. They gather together in large clumps on the trees to stay warm. When the sun hits them and they warm up they take flight in clouds of butterflies, an amazing sight to see. We hung out for a couple hours taking in the experience. Then we mounted our horses and descended a very steep trail with drop offs that Leiann loved, LOL. Then the next day we hit an Aztec temple, a town where they made Katrinas and another 16th century town with a large central park. We had lunch, walked and shopped a little, had ice cream and got back in our van to head home from another great adventure. We spend much of our time here going to live music events in the evenings and beaches in the day. A tough life for sure, LOL. When we had gotten here COVID was at a low point, The Omicron variant not having gotten here yet. We came looking forward to the annual sail and guitar fests. There had not been one last year due to COVID but everyone one was looking forward to this years return of festivities. We got here in October our typical departure date from cold and rainy PNW Washington. But Omicron finally showed up down here and restrictions went back in place. Mandatory masks in public and restrictions on restaurants and grocery stores. The likelihood that Sailfest and Guitarfest would happen were up in the air. Like in the US cases and deaths climbed and fell quickly. The Sailfest was able to happen with some minor limits and restrictions. We volunteered for the event and participated in several activities. Guitarfest however has been canceled. A few musicians that had already flown in are having some small (rather covert shows). We were at one last night and plan to attend another on Saturday. My sister Darcy and her friend Mick came to visit for 8 days so we spent time touristing, added some music events and of course pool and beach time. We will not speak about the margaritas at the pool day. Our friend Richard is here coming from La Paz via boat and will stay a while. Then Geri, Linda and Penny showed up too, so we are keeping them out late and hanging while they are here, doing what we do best, beaching, music, tacos, darts...whatever we can find to keep them out of trouble. The end of March another friend Linda will be here for a short visit. So all in all we have been having a good time here enjoying the warmth. We now have another 5 weeks until we once again make our return to the US. We plan to make the most of it and know we will be missing the warm sun when we get home. We told the grand kids that we would stay home for Christmas this year. After watching all the snow and cold weather they had up there last winter we are thinking maybe we might just do Christmas and then head south. We don’t really want to head to Asia that late in the season so are looking at other options, one being heading to the Caribbean for a few months. We would love to go to Cuba but politics will not allow that so we are contemplating Puerto Rico. We shall see. Lots of time between now and next winter. So there you go, that’s what we have been up to for the last year. Stay tuned for more “Chrysalis Adventures!
Getting ready to leave La Paz (again)
09 May 2021 | La Paz
Dave Scee | Hot and dusty
Getting Ready to Leave Mexico Once Again and Heading Home for the Summer.
We have not put up a blog post for nearly nearly two years! Time flies when you are having fun. I guess we got out of practice and also staying in the same place for an extended period of time is a little different than our normal moving about every month. In the last post we were returning to Mexico in the fall of 2019. We did a lot of work on the boat that winter, having the transmission rebuilt and many other projects. It was very hot when first got back in Oct, 90 plus, so hard to work on the boat. We were also doing a lot of music events. I reopened my open mic for it's second year, which was every other Wednesday and attended another open mic the other Wednesday. In addition to that on any given night in La Paz there might be more then a couple music events happening, so we did music events like 4 to 5 nights a week, along with practice sessions with friends during the day (air conditioning). I (Dave) am a late blooming musician. We also kept very busy with club activities at the Yacht club "Club Cruceros" we had joined he previous year. So we did not get the boat back in the water until March of 2020. We made one trip out to Isla Espiritu and spent a wonderful four days there. We came back in to get re-provisioned and were not allowed to go back out as Mexico shut down all cruising due to the Covid outbreak here. Closely followed by closure of all music events and then the club was the next closure. So by April life in La Paz had changed drastically. We put the boat back in the yard the end of April having been out only two months, and flew back to Washington State. When we got there the Covid situation was calming down down a bit as they were just getting passed their first wave. We waited until we got our Covid tests and then were able to spend time with the grand kids. Our summers are always action packed with family and friends, but Covid put a damper on things last summer, but we still got to spend lots of time with family. We stayed in our motor home through the summer, which has been quite comfortable for us and convenient to store when we are away. Along with fun with grand kids, we bought a motorcycle and took a ride over the mountains to Winthrop and back. No little accomplishment for Leiann who previously would not ride with me on the last bike I had (more of a fast sport bike). This one is a large road bike, with running boards, big seats and a back rest so she felt a little more comfortable. I think she just didn't want any biker babes jumping in the seat, ha ha. Shortly before we left to come back to La Paz, I lost my mother who was 82. A sad event losing a parent, but we were glad it happened when we were home and were able to help with siblings to put things in order and have some time to grieve together. When we returned last October it was hot, hot hot, like 95 plus daily. We managed to get the boat back in the water by January and have been able to get out and enjoy it more this year. However it seems that for every hour we get to sail the boat I spend 20 hours working on the boat. It's an old boat and always has unfinished work to do. But I try to compartmentalize the projects so when one is completed we can use the boat before starting the next. Truth is that this boat could have used a couple of years worth of work in the yard when we bought it, but I got it in sea worthy condition in two months before sailing it to Mexico, leaving many projects that were lower priority to be completed later. As much as we (mostly me, Dave) have enjoyed having and using the boat, it has been a lot of work, time and money and I look forward to selling it. I'm sure once it is sold I will look back longingly to the days of sailing with dolphins and whales. It has been yet another great adventure in our lives and we would not be in La Paz had we not bought it. La Paz has been our home now for three winters. The most time we have spent in one location in the last ten years. Our normal has been to spend a month and move on to new places. We have loved being here, and the music scene has been an unexpected big plus here. If it was not for Covid La Paz is one of the most musically dense places we have ever been and we will miss it and perhaps one day return. We now look forward to getting the boat, the car, all the stuff we have accumulated here sold or given away and getting back down to backpacks. It is amazing how much crap one accumulates if you stop moving. We have a two bedroom apartment rented till the end of May. We plan to try to be out of it on May 25th and into a hostel we stayed at way back in 2015 giving us some leeway to get rid of stuff and get the apartment cleaned out. We have reserved our campsite at Thousand Trials for the first two weeks of June, and will have to get the motor home out of month balls as soon as we get back. This year when we return it will be a lot easier. Normally when we get home we would have to purchase a vehicle, find a place to stay, buy insurance and all stuff you do not think about if you are not living this type of lifestyle. This year we return to a motor home, two vehicles that a friend has been driving through the winter so they don't just sit and a motorcycle. So within a week of being home it will seem like we never left. We are already feeling a little sad to be (possibly) leaving La Paz for good, but excited to head back home and spend time with grand kids and family. We have lots planned and it will again be a fast pasted fun packed summer. We have already been planning the next leg of our adventure to Asia. We will be heading to a city in Thailand called Chiang Mai. We will get an Airbnb there and explore the area around Chiang Mai. Lots to see and do there, lots of temples, elephants and Asian culture to explore. Like our European adventure we plan to have a very vague itinerary, basically heading south with the sun as it gets cooler in the North. We hope to visit Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and possibly Bali. Sorry to take so long to update but we will be doing more travel next fall so will post more often. As we look back this blog has been great for us as it is difficult to remember all that we have done since we left in our little 29 foot boat ten years ago. Stay tuned for more Chrysalis adventures.
Summer 2019 post
30 September 2019 | Mt. Vernon, Wa
The weather has turned cold. The geese are in the air. That signals our time to once again head south. Eight years ago we headed south in our little 29ft, 47y,o. boat, which seems like a lifetime ago. Last year we once again bought an old boat (only 44y.o. this time) and sailed south. So now we are in the airport getting ready to fly down to La Paz, Mexico to join back up with our boat. We will have an apartment and keep the boat on her mooring, ready to take us on some adventures up into the Sea of Cortez, so we have the best of both worlds. Like all of our summer visits we have had a madcap crazy summer of family, friends and fun. We bought an older motor home and car which have stored so coming back next year will be a little easier. It’s always bitter sweet leaving. We love to visit family and our friends but we love to travel to far away (warm) places too. Next year? Maybe Asia? So until next June we say farewell. Stay tuned for more Chysalis adventures as we explore more of Mexico.
Our time in La Paz
25 April 2019
We have now been in La Paz, Mexico for four months and are making our plans to return to the states for the summer. As usual time has flown by. After getting the boat down here we kept it in the marina . for the first month and then put it on a mooring after that. We have not been able to do a lot with the boat as of yet, beyond a few day sails. It has continued to be ailed by various issues that are still to be resolved. It seems as one is put to bed another comes up. But it is an old boat and sat for a long time. We look forward to having much more time next year on her. We will be putting her on the hard (dry dock) in a few days, where she will await our return. Our apartment has been very comfortable and we have reserved it for next year. Having two bedrooms, three beds and two baths it has been great for hosting friends who have come to visit. We have an open invitation policy for anyone who would like to come and stay for a while (reserve early for next year!) We will be back in October and will again stay till the end of April. We as usual have been very busy here taking friends on our tourist tours, meeting lots of other cruisers, dinners, playing games and lots of laughs. Music has been a big part of our stay here, La Paz has lots of it. We attend an open mic event every other Wednesday that never fails to amaze us with top notch players of every type of music. I am not comfortable playing there (yet) and so started another venue for less then top notch and student type budding musicians, on the other Wednesdays. We have had lots of fun with it and learned lots about putting together all that is involved with stage music paraphernalia (lots of wires, cables, mixer, speakers, amps, mics, stands and the likes, along with managing the event. We look forward to doing more of it when we get back. We have also attended lots of great music events, blues festival, jazz festival, flamenco, country, lots of fun. We had planned on staying down here in La Paz for two seasons using it as a base to sail out of and then sell the boat and do more land travel. We really like La Paz so we will see if we will need to adjust that schedule. We learned long ago that cruisers (and land travelers) plans are drawn in the sand at low tide, highly subject to change. We don’t write as much when we are staying put for a while as there is less to write about, so if you see a long pause it is because we are just chillin’. Our next adventure will be with our grand kids back home. Stay tuned for more Chrysalis Adventures!