Sunday, March 13, 2016

More Caves and Abandoned Spaces….

We found after spending over 3 weeks in Luperon that there is so much to do.  We found another cave to explore after Nick spoke with some real estate agents about possibly buying some property on the island.  They took Frank and Nick on a tour that included property sitting over this awesome cave.  The next day, we rented motorcycles again so that we could explore this cave some more.  Needless to say, it was beautiful….

We also found an abandoned marina that was also pretty cool….

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Luperon Blows…

After hearing from another cruiser that there were caves and blowholes nearby our anchorage, we decided to go and check it out for ourselves.  Apparently there was a plan for a development in this area but it seems that it was abandoned mid-project.  Getting to it was easy as it was just a matter of following a path through the woods…Not much to say except that it was beautiful.  Another lovely surprise from Luperon….   

This is where we beached our dinghy
Pretty staircase in the abandoned building...
That would've been a lovely view
Awesome caves...
And crazy tree roots...
Isn't DR amazing?
There she blows…

Friday, March 4, 2016

27 Cascadas...

We had heard about the 27 waterfalls from the locals, and that it was a must-see while in the Dominican Republic, so we all decided that…well, we must go and see it.  We rented motorcycles from Papo at 500 pesos a day (about $10) and set out early so that we could have a leisurely ride through the countryside.  The motorcycle ride was a major highlight of the trip and we really got to see how the locals get around as this is the predominant mode of transportation here.  I can't exactly say that it was safe, riding here is a bit of a free for all (*see note below about this).  Trucks and cars aren't hesitant about tailgating 5 feet behind you, and since there doesn't seem to be any road rules, it was one of those survive the moment situations.  A bit scary but still so much fun!

Since the waterfalls are a major attraction (rated on TripAdvisor as one the top ten things to do in the DR), you can imagine that this is a bit of a tourist trap.  When you first arrive, you are given the option to do the first 7 waterfalls, the first 12, or all 27.  It is done with a guide along with mandatory helmets and lifejackets.  Little did I know, at the time, that I had gotten major food poisoning the day before.  I was suffering from some mild symptoms earlier in the morning, but I had written it off, and so, foolishly I opted  to do all 27 since we had come so far (plus, I was pretty excited about jumping off some waterfalls).  Little did I know what I was getting myself into.  For the first hour, we were pretty much just hiking up the mountain.  I had no idea that we'd be hiking for so long, and my body was not happy with me.  Since we didn't know that we'd be hiking for so long, none of us thought to bring water.  About 20 minutes in, my symptoms were really starting to kick in and I was fighting off cold sweats and bouts of nausea, wondering if I would make it up the mountain without vomiting or shitting myself in my teeny bikini.  Luckily I had taken Immodium earlier in the day, and so I was spared the embarrassment of the latter, but I simply could not enjoy the beauty of the hike up.   After what seemed an eternity, we finally got to the top, where at that point I felt I had conquered Everest and looked to my guide as if he were my own personal sherpa.  Admittedly, I was harboring a bit of unwarranted contempt for him as he did not slow down AT ALL  during the hike, and was completely unaware of my woes.  I wasn't exactly about to communicate to him in my broken Spanish "food poisoning,"  nor was I going to attempt to gesticulate "major diarrhea" and "want to die," and so I silently suffered with Frank and Lindsay being the only sympathetic ones waiting up for me during the hike.  

By the time we had reached the top, I was so drenched in sweat that I could not wait to get in the water.  Jumping off the first waterfall was like heaven on earth.  As soon as the cold water hit my body, I felt exponentially better.  My nausea went away and I was able to ignore my upset stomach.  It was an awesome time back down the mountain, and we had a blast sliding and jumping each of the falls.  It took about another hour or so, and let me tell you, it was so beautiful and well worth the trip.  I don't know if it was pure mental willpower preventing me from really being sick during the excursion, or if it was the effects of the Immodium, or simply adrenaline, but by time I got home that afternoon I had a full fledged fever along with muscle aches.  I could hardly muster the energy to go to the bathroom every hour for the next 24 hours.  At one point I was convinced I had the Zika virus, and luckily that was not the case and I was back to normal within 2 days.  I had no idea what got me so sick, but I felt very fortunate that I was able to hold off for long enough that day to enjoy another little treasure of the Dominican Republic.  

Photo courtesy of Lindsay
Photo courtesy of Lindsay

*A word of caution though if you do decide to rent motorcycles here (or even a taxi for that matter) there really are not any rules at all.. Stop lights as far as I can tell are only there to determine who is the bravest. The only helmets I've seen were the ones they gave us for jumping off of the waterfalls . Passing two trucks at a time on a blind curve while going as fast as you possibly can is the norm. I'm still trying to figure out if the streets in town are ment to be one way or not. On top of that there are huge potholes, random herds of cattle, stray dogs, children, horses, chicken, broken down cars, etc all in the road so it can be a bit exciting at times. 

PS-Sorry if this post was tainted with my lovely descriptions of my food poisoning, but I really wanted to illustrate just how much I enjoyed the waterfalls even though I was so sick.  

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Adventures in Luperon...

After spending 18 days in Luperon, I can safely say that I am absolutely in love with this little village off the beaten path.  First off, let me just state that it is incredibly inexpensive to live here.  An average meal out costs about $5 a person, but if you want to be frugal and cook your own meals, groceries are just as affordable: 2 bags of fruits such as mangos and papayas cost us around $2; 3 days worth of pork and chicken cost us around $10; and canned goods were found to be cheaper than even the states.  Since the average income per month is around $250, you can imagine how far the dollar can stretch here, and it's no surprise to me how many ex-pats have decided to retire here and call Luperon their home.  From a cruiser's point of view, this place is more than idyllic, with its incredibly sheltered harbor, to its access to the internet from your boat (at $15/week) , to the convenience of how close town is via dinghy, you can understand why we stayed for so long.  As mentioned in my previous post, yes, the water in the harbor is pretty nasty, so no you won't be able to use your water makers, but at $1 per 5 gallons of drinking water delivered directly to your boat and into your tanks  by the local go-to guy, Papo, who really needs to use their water makers.   Papo pretty much delivers anything you would possibly need directly to your boat at a very nominal price…from fuel, to laundry washed and folded, to propane, to even groceries, making it very convenient to stay on anchor.  

Aside from all of the logistics of being here, the Dominican Republic is also a beautiful country.  On one of our first days here, we met the daughter of a local ex-pat that offered to take us to the beach, Playa Castillo, in the back of his pickup. The beach itself was scenic, with the mountains as a backdrop to the turquoise waters, but what was most impressive was simply the ride there.  Words cannot describe how enchanting the countryside is, with its looming lush mountains, colorful little houses, cactus fences, and cattle fields. I felt was I transported to a different time, where life seems a bit more simple.  

Amazing mountains...
Riding in the back of a pickup
Playa Castillo 
Lindsay and Frank in Playa Castillo
Motorcyle rides...
Little town of Luperon

After this excursion, we decided that we really wanted to explore Luperon and its surrounding areas.  We talked to the local gringos and asked for directions on how to get to Puerto Plata, a small city about an hour from Luperon by a guagua (bus) and set out to explore the city with our sailing buddies, Nick and Lindsay.  Luckily for us, Lindsay is fairly fluent in Spanish and we were able to easily traverse the city. We had a great time just walking around, soaking in the culture and being tourists.  If you ever get the chance, I must say, the city of Puerto Plata is a pretty place to explore.

Puerto Plata...