Saturday, April 07, 2007

Dominican Republic

The anchorage of Luperon is about a half mile inland through a small opening in the shoals, offers two areas to anchor, a small fishing town with basic supplies and services, a marina bar/restaurant and, several restaurants in town. Not the prettiest place we’ve been to but the people made up for it with their friendliness. There were about 50 boats in there, many were long term residents, and we managed to make many new friends and relax for 3 months.

The Dominican Republic is quite mountainous, lush green, fun and, most importantly, safe. We had no problems traveling around on public transportation and rental cars. Whenever we asked for directions the locals were very helpful and friendly. Often they would lead the way in their own vehicles without asking for anything. We took several organized trips, with other boaters, to beach towns, shopping, and sightseeing comfortably and safely. Of these Sosua was perhaps the trendiest place we found. Chairs on the beach, good service and huge pina coladas.

Santo Domingo, the Capital, was by far our favourite hangout. The Colonial part of the city is very well preserved and quite easy to explore by foot. One night the locals told us about a free Batchata – this is the most popular local sound – concert featuring many of the DR’s best musicians.

After many wrong turns we found the place and went inside to a beautiful courtyard between some historical buildings. The only problem was that they didn’t have a liquor license so everyone traipsed outside to the corner shop to buy beer and bring it in. Apparently you could drink it but, not buy it at the show????? The evenings highlight where and old couple who did a duet, including a quite provocative dance routine. It drove the fans wild and ended the night with a bang.

Christopher Columbus’s brother was the Governor of the Dominican Republic (Hispaniola) in the old days and his mansion is on the water up the river where the old port and fortifications were. We were surprised at how well it’s been preserved, right down to the original furniture. Looking into one of the bedrooms Meri asked if it was the children’s because the bed was so small. “No” says the guide, this was the Governor’s bedroom. Apparently the Spaniards were quite short, about 5 feet max! Considering that the Indians in the area were almost 6 feet tall it’s a wonder the Spaniards conquered them. Probably the Indians were laughing so hard they didn’t see the sword coming at their knees!!!

I mentioned how safe and friendly the country was and would like to give my favourite example.

Two cruising couples had rented motorcycles and were heading to a popular beach for the day. After drinks at a local rest stop they remounted and continued off. However, the bike in the rear got a flat tyre which the others ahead failed to notice and continued on. Seeing the problem a local man said he would take of it, jumped on and rode away down the road, much to the cruisers horror. They returned to the store, ordered beers and, decided to wait for their friends and notify the police. Upon returning the other guy told his friend to jump on and they would go after the thief. They got about 100 yards down the road and saw the man returning with the motorcycle. He dismounted, indicated the repaired tyre and said “1 dollar please”. Apparently he took the bike around the corner and fixed it at his house.

Our friend, Chris (UNA MAS) Simpson and his buddy Steve, decided to fly down for a visit and a bit of a sail. However, they arrived at the east end of the island – this is where most of the all inclusive resorts are and of course the cheaper flights - thinking it would be a short drive to pick them up. NOT!!! It took 8 hours over crappy roads to get there. We decided to stop in Santo Domingo on the way back thus breaking up the journey. At the airport there were only tour guides holding up signs and picking up tourists. We grabbed a piece of paper and a marking pen and made our own, ‘JACKASS TOURS’, to get their attention. It worked like a charm.

In Luperon we took the boat out to a reef area for some snorkeling and sun. The first night we anchored off a small German owned resort hoping to go in for dinner and drinks. Upon arrival on the beach we noticed that it seemed a bit quiet and dark. Maybe it wasn’t open for the season yet. As we approached the fence a guard stepped out of the shadows, cocked his shotgun and pointed it at us, demanding an explanation. HOLY SHIT, was the common thought amongst us I’m sure. After explaining the situation he informed us it wouldn’t be open for another week and we could walk around the complex, through the prickly Acacias, to the main road and into town for a meal. The ‘MEAL’ was the worst we ever had I’m sure. Tasted like fish patties with the scales, guts and heads left in. So far I was not impressing my guests who had a rather mutinous look about them.

Next day we headed for the reef and fun as promised. After entering through a break in the shoals we anchored in a tiny, sandy area behind a small atoll. This atoll had several small, thatched, huts built on it for the tourists. However, the huts were only useable at low tide otherwise they were partially submerged. OK fine, there we were lounging about and snorkeling with the tourists, mostly fat German guys with ugly Dominican hookers, and Chris says, “hey D, why is Adagio beam to? She looks further away than I remember.” Holy cow, I realize that the anchor has pulled out, the wind had picked up a little, from it’s hard, sandy, bottom and Adagio is heading towards the mainland a mile away!!!! Into the, very slow, dinghy we jump and go after her. Finally we get aboard, return, tie to an ancient mooring nearby – the locals weren’t using it after all – and go ashore again. After a few more beers we are feeling mellow and sitting in one of the huts when we hear a woman saying “Ola papi”. Through the little window I see a chubby, middle aged, Dominican, hooker batting her eyelashes at us! They were with the Germans but probably looking for more business on the side I guess. Well, you should have seen us run.

As you can see we had quite a wonderful time and were sad to leave but, the hurricane season was at an end and new ports awaited.


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