Thursday, April 30, 2015

More DR

After getting back to the boat from the busy fun filled day of jumping and sliding waterfalls we settled back onboard. I dont know if it was the food we ate at the buffet or all the water I flushed through my sinuses, but I was feeling a bit queasy and decided to change and lay down a bit when we returned. I ended up sleeping till the next morning not feeling well enough to eat dinner. At least I felt better in the morning. The weather was beginning to shape up to the point we felt we could leave Luperon so we paid Papo to have our bottom cleaned, arranged for fuel and water delivery as I worked to prep meals and tie the boat down for travel. Dirk worked topside removing the sun shades he had deployed to keep us cool. We also spent the last couple days buying a few supplies to get us to Puerto Rico.
Baby seat on the back of a motorcycle
Dirk picking out a pineapple at a great shop
Fresh Bananas hang everywhere
Fresh pineapples, mangos, avocados, and peppers
On the 17th We all decided that we would go as a group to customs and immigrations to do our paperwork so at 10 am we all met at the trailers to begin getting our dispatchos and paying port fees and such. Afterwards we all made the iffy trek up the path, across a bridge Im sure a troll lived under and up to pay the Commandant a visit to hand in our dispatcho request.
Fresh pineapples, mangos, avocados, and peppers
The path leading up to the Commandant
Guess if you can cross this bridge you can leave
Not a ver nice smelling body of water under that bridge so dont fall in

Of course yet again we realized if you carry carbon paper around with you that things go faster as duel copies had to be made. We started the process at 10am and at 1pm the final person was done.
Let the paperwork begin
Finally a second person came to help. Apparently we interrupted a dominoes game

When that was all complete they told us we had to come back at 5pm for our dispatcho, what? Wait, we told them our plan was to leave at 5:00. Oh well, we do what were told and smile about it. One last lunch and Presidente Beer before heading back to the boat to ready things for an early morning departure. The next morning at about 6:30 am the rat pack let the mooring balls go and bid farewell to Luperon.
Sunrise leaving Luperon
I must admit, when we were going there I had reservations about it due to all the stories I had read. My thought is try it yourself. If your looking for a pristine harbor that caters to the cruiser you will be not be happy. This harbor is a working harbor, it isnt clean, the streets have a certain smell, and the community is poor. But what we found among all this is a wonderful change in culture, and humble people who are very friendly. We did not find the government corruption we were so afraid of and we would love to go back one day.
Beautiful coastline
Puerto Plata
We managed to get as far as Sosua when we heard radio contact between two boats further up talking about the 8 foot seas they were in. Ummmmm no..we and Tehani decided to stop and anchor up waiting for the seas to lay dawn in the evening before continuing. The others continued on. After we set the hook we both laid down to try and catch a nap before continuing on. Right after I got to sleep we hear Hola.....we go topside to find a small fishing boat telling us we could not anchor there as there was coral heads around, we needed to move so we went to pull anchor to move to the right side some when they said there was no anchoring, you had to pick up a mooring. Hummmmmmm, I called Tehani and asked him how much they said the moorings were, he said 500 pesos. Heck thats about $11.00 and we only needed it for a couple hours. They came back to us and Dirk says that we would be leaving at sunset could we just anchor. They said the boss said no. Hummmmmmm, how much he asked out of curiosity. We already knew what they told Tehani but they told us 1000 pesos. What the hey? What because we have a bigger boat your gonna try for twice the money? Dirk told them he didnt have that much, they asked what we did have. He said let me check. A moment later he came back up and said he only had 350 pesos and the guys said what, you dont have a $20.00 on you. Dirk told them we have no money, we are headed to Puerto Rico to get some. They took the pesos we said we had and showed us where to tie up. They said next time we stop there we can pay what we owe. Yea right, I will get right on that. I guess theres those bribes and corruption we were looking for. Oh well we needed to sleep. At sunset we dropped the mooring ball and headed south once again. Dirk had just pulled up the sail and I was setting our course on the chatplotter when we both looked up together to see a faint outline of a man in a small fishing boat. He was yelling and anxiously trying to pull in his fishing net. Holy cow, who is out fishing in such a small boat at dark with no lights. Apparenty lots of these guys. I know we had to of scared him half to death as he scared us just as bad. Im awake....I radioed to Tehani and good thing I did as they didnt see him either and turned away. By that time in the evening the seas had settled a bit and we made our way to Samana arriving at 4pm the following day. We did have radio contact with the others in our group and managed to catch up to them somewhat after they stopped once it got too rough for them. We finally made it to Samana and were the last ones in the marina to tie up. We decided on the marina as we were all very tired from the trip and needed a little R&R. We went in to see customs and immigrations to turn in our dispatchos and check in. Apparently the DR likes to know where you are coming from and where your going to at all times. The Commandant was very nice and helpful, spoke very good english and welcomed us to Samana.The boats were salty and so were all the people so we were happy to have a real shower at the marina even if it was a cool one. We found s/v Tangent whom we met in the Bahamas there at the dock having gotten there a day earlier. We chatted a bit with them before setting off to check out the marina and grounds. What a great place, they have a mini mart right there that has everything I needed and I didnt need much as we were headed to PR in the next couple days and could not take fruits and veggies with us. We bought us an icecream and headed back to relax. While there for a couple days we managed to find pool time and I got several loads of laundry done.
Dirk & I enjoying the pool
Poolside Cafe
The marina also put on a great meet and greet for everyone docked. They provided nice cocktails and appetizers for us in the pool room. The last evening we were to be there we had a rat pack meeting to talk about the trip over to Puerto Rico and a nice lunch poolside before all retiring to our boats to prep them for the trek east.
Meeting time for the Rat Pack
Several large pools like this all around
We would not leave till the following evening as thats when the winds would die down, so at about 10 am we headed into customs and immigrations to get our dispatchos done and all was well with the world. Easy checkout, paid our 20.00 to clear and then all we needed to do was wait. One last meeting to recheck weather and routes then we were off, next stop Puerto Rico.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

More Sightseeing in the DR

Sunday after our tour of the countryside we headed into the tiny marina for lunch. On Sundays they have a BBQ for a good price. We sat down and had forgotten that this Sunday Bruce Van Sant, the writer of Gentlemans Guide to Passages South was going to be having lunch here. Van Sant, for family and friends not familiar with cruising the islands has cruised the islands and finally settled in Luperon when he fell in love with the island and the people. He has since moved to Puerto Plata from what I understand but comes back fairly often and seems to enjoy the company of cruisers. We bought his book so many years ago that it is tattered and dog eared very badly from reading it and referring to it over and over again. He has lots of useful information and explains how Island lees work, why one should move along at night here rather than daytime. Good info on lots of topics, especially how to work your way through the Dreaded Mona Passage to get to Puerto Rico. We enjoyed a nice chat with him when we realized he was sitting at the Rat Packs table before having lunch ourselves and returning back to Renegade for the evening.

Dirk & I with Van Sant
Chatting about boats
We also wanted to do the 27 Waterfalls that we had read about and heard about so much. Since the rat pack was ahead of us they had all done it and told us it was a must do. Since we couldnt find enough people to get an organized by Papo trip done we had to go it alone. We hired a taxi for the morning and Nino came promptly at 9am to pick us up at the marina. He then drove us the half hour or so to the outskits of Puerto Plata and walked us in to make sure we got set before leaving us. He spoke very good english and gave us rundowns on the areas and answered so many questions we had about the country and its people. We checked in, paid our 500 pesos a person plus decided to do the buffet they offer afterwards for an additional 250 pesos. We got our lifevest and helmet and met our guide. We were lucky as we were the only two so we had our own guide for the trip. We started out on an easy walk over a long suspension bridge then a small path that soon started an upward trend. You can choose to do say 7, 12, or all 27 waterfalls. We wanted to do all so we got to the 12 mark and took a nice rest downing plenty of water and seeing if I could put my lungs back in my chest after carrying them the last 20 minutes. Geeeeze, Im outta shape. Every time you would ask how much further the guide would reply 5 more minutes. Hummmmm 45 minutes to an hour later we finally made it up to the top fall. The first jump was not really a fall but a leap into a deep pit. Im guessing it might have been a test to the guide to make sure you could swim and take care of yourself. The water was a bit cold and took your breath away but felt refreshing after that long hike. As the day progressed it felt downright great. Some of the falls you jumped from others you slid down. The limestone is carved smooth from the water and surprising slick. We jumped and slid our way down to the biggest one which was about a 25 foot jump. I was hesitant at first but I figured you only live once and this wasnt too bad of a place to die. Actually it wasnt that bad, the guide told you exactly where to stand and where to jump. Our guide even took my camera from me and videoed and snapped photos for us the whole way down. What a great bonus. They do have the people you hire to record your trip but ours did it for us. We finally reached the end which I thought might be close to the starting point but I was sadly mistaken and we had a bit more of a hike to get us back. We turned in our gear tipped our guide and went and had a so so lunch. I know those chickens that were wandering around us were probably on the menu and clucking about getting their last meal. One thing seems certain, all the meat we ate while here has got to be organic and free range. Even Dirk thought the meat tasted a bit gamy. Oh well, its gotta be better for us then what we eat in the states. Below see a couple photos from the day.
On the suspension bridge
Neat areas to explore

Will post more pics and maybe a video when we get better internet. When we got finished with lunch we walked outside and there was Nino waiting for us. We got the backpack from the car, yea I could see again. I had to leave my glasses in the car, we changed and then headed back. Nino was gonna take us to the cheese factory and anywhere else we wanted to go but we were pooped and just wanted to head back to Luperon and the boat. We basically sat in silence the whole way back as I think we were tired, very tired. The ride back although only about 30 minutes felt like a lot more. Nino dropped us off, we paid and tipped him. For the taxi, the waterfalls, the guide, the food and tips we spent a mere $75.00 give or take. What great fun were having, stay tuned for more.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sightseeing in the DR

After being here for a week now we are learning our way around Luperon. Where to find the bakery, finding it open is a treat.

Yummy pastrys
Where to find good food...
Patula's had great food

We ended up buying one of these mugs.
And in general, finding new things to photograph.
Thats one heck of a security system

Pink house is a typical home here.

Meat market or family pet just killed? Hummmm

Nice shower and way to flush a toilet and wash your hands in one bathroom.

Gate we have to go through by the immigrations trailer.
We did rent motorcycles with Dave & Tanya from s/v Dea Latis and toured a bit of country side. We saw beautiful rolling landscapes
And even had two encountes with cattle moving from one field to another.
They seem unaffected by the motorcycle sounds. Guess they are use to it. Our first stop was the Church of the Americanos, I think was the name of it. It is the site where the original church was built for Columbus. I guess you can tell I really need to research this all more. Spanish is not my strong point so I really need to sit and do some reading. But anyway here are some pics we took of the grounds and church. It was really quiet lovely.
A papaya tree
We then went to La Isabela that Columbus founded during his second voyage in 1493. He named it after Queen Isabela I of Castile. There were small parts of the ruins left on site and the museum held different items found. It was neat but written all in Spanish so hard to interpret, well, hard to understand, well basically I looked at the artifacts.

Cool old graves

One of the old settlers on display
Afterwards we took the bikes out to the beach and found a little shack to park and find a shady spot to have a couple cold beers and some fries.

Saw some locals out spear fishing, this is what they returned with. Hummmmm first off the season for lobster is over, and second, not one of them is legal size. Guess thats one reason why fishing around these parts is not so good. They were quickly cooked up and served up to the locals, one of which had a uniform on as a government person. The enforcer is the consumer....
For about the first 15 minutes of us sitting there these two chickens were hanging in the tree upside down. Dirk said it was to keep them sleeping.....every so often one would flit about but for the most part they were quiet. about 10 minutes later a guy comes by, Dirk tells me not to look and before I know it they are drained and put on the table behind us being defeathered and chopped up into a pot. Not something you see everyday but it is the way of life here. Guess the treatment here is actually alot better than the treatment to our food in the states. At least these guys are all free range chickens, not kept in cages and the method of killing them is alot more humane. Still, I dont want to see it.
Soon it was time to head back to Luperon but one more stop to photograph the harbor before fueling up and returning the motorcycles. At $10.00 a day its a heck of a bargin.
Luperon harbor where we are moored
More to come....