Thursday, April 9, 2015

Luperon, Dominican Republic

We arrived in Long Cay in hopes that we would leave the next morning with a small weather window that had appeared. Well as quickly as it opened, it closed. Well....we already checked out of the country and legally we had 24 hours to leave but with the now closed weather window we weren't sure what to do. Guess we would wait it out. Its not like this island has anyone on it and the only people we see around are local fisherman and conch man going out early in the morning and returning late in the evening in their small fishing boats. I wanted to at least walk the island but as Dirk reminded me and we do try to play by the rules is that we were already checked out. We shouldnt be able to get off our boat. Days passed and the weather just would not cooperate. Where we were anchored wasn't to pleasant either as the swells from the ocean would wrap around and hit us on the side. We had two choices, suck it up or check back into the country. We elected to suck it up. I was even hoping for a day to float around in the water alongside the boat but it was far too rough for that even. Finally after 5 days we found a very small weather window. Dirk spoke with Chris Parker and he said that if we didnt take this window we may not see another one for at least a week and that one was questionable. Decisions, decisions.....we decided to go for it. We both knew ahead of time that the trip was not going to be pleasant. With the winds blowing the last several days we knew the seas would be at least 5 to 6 footers ontop of swells. Plus the wind was still blowing in the 16 to 18 gusting to 25 ish knots. Well after leaving Long Cay before lunch we arrived in Luperon 22 hours later. We were worried that we would arrive to the harbor before daylight but as we were getting close to the island the sun was just beginning to peak over the horizon. I do remember reading in a book about being able to smell The DR before seeing it and it was so true. It smelled like fresh farmland and manure. Not in a bad way either, it smelled like earth. Im not sure what I was really expecting but the more that came into view as the sun rose the more surprised I was. This vast land of rolling mountains coming out of the sea was amazing. I have seen mountains before, but always by flying over them or driving to them and you see the landscape change as you go. Here it was Wham! Hello, in your face, Im here type of a mountain. After living in flat areas all my life, traveling in the Bahamas where its all flat, its nice to see terraine.
Sun was rising and this was what I saw.
We knew once we got in from the other rat pack emails that we would need to contact Papo on the radio and he would show us to our mooring ball. He would lead us to deeper water to anchor but for $2.00 a day for a mooring ball you cant beat that. Dirk hailed him on the radio and he told us he would meet us in the cut in 5 minutes.
Papo and brother Freddie leading us in.
PaPo and from What I gathered was his brother Freddie soon came out to meet us and we followed them into the bay and up to the mooring ball where they took our lines and fed them through for us. Ha, look at that, we were right behind Dea Latis whom we had traveled with a bit a couple years ago. We also noted other boats we were familiar with as being part of our pack heading south. Yea, we caught up....
A rainbow appeared shortly after we made it into the anchorage.
Pabo then headed into town to retrieve some of the officials to check us in. Not sure who they all were, but soon Pabo returned with 5 men, one in military uniform, two others seemed to work for him as they are the ones that had the forms and were filling out papers and writing out stuff. The other two were probably just lookers on that caught a ride to see. Pabo also joined the group as our interpreter. Men were all business till I broke out cookies and cokes then all hands were in, they were not shy and helped themselves. After the cookies and cokes were gone and paperwork complete they left and we were told to then go into town to see immigration and customs. Found the dinghy dock and walked past the fishing fleet before finding the trailer.
The wait area outside of customs
We filled out more paperwork, paid our $93.00 entry fee, passports were stamped and we were told to go next door for agriculture and immigration. The office was bare except for two desk and a couple chairs. No computers here, its all done on paper still and you need to have your own pen. No lights, no a/c, well there was a lone wasp that occupied the trailer. The ag guy was sitting outside as it was cooler there than in the office and he filled out a paper, asked if we had any fruits or veggies on board which we replied yes to. He asked where we bought them and then said $10.00. We paid and he said he would come to our boat in the morning at nine to look around. We were also told that the tax person and immigrations man was not in, come back tomorrow. Oh well, we tried to get it all done today but what can I say, it was after all Easter Sunday, we should just be glad they were there at all. Afterwards we went in search of food and found the marina our friends had told us about. They were having a BBQ starting at noon so we headed over. We found several cruisers/rat pack that we had been cruising with were there also and we combined tables so we could all sit together. Dirk and I both ordered the grande Presidente beers that we had heard so much about.
The Rat Pack
We had heard about how cheap food and beer was here and for 860 pesos which is about $18 or 19 dollars we both had big plates of food With grilled chicken, grilled veggies rice and a 24 oz beer a piece. Afterwards we hung out just a bit before heading back to Renegade for some much needed sleep. It was still early so we ended up taking a 3 hour nap, waking at about 5 pm. By 8:30 we were back in bed watching a movie and soon after that sound asleep till after 8am the next morning. I got up, made coffee and expected the agriculture gentleman to be here at 9Am, 9:30, no man, at almost 10 he showed up and looked at the basket with 5 onions in it and another basket with one apple and 3 oranges in it. Asked again where I bought them and said okay, I could keep them. Asked if we had any animals and we said we have a cat. He asked for paperwork on the cat and I had his folder open and Dirk was digging through the other papers we keep in another folder. He asked if the cat ever got off the boat, we said no and he said no matter we were done. No need to show any papers. As he left he saw the garbage bag on deck and took it to throw in the International garbage bin.
This is where we must throw all garbage from outside the country. Seems a great place to keep it, right next to the water where when it gets full they burn it then keep on adding. Since we wanted to check out town, exchange some money for pesos and eat we loaded into the dinghy and headed to the dock. We still needed to visit immigration and get our tourist cards and pay for the port tax. Back to the trailers we went and paid $20.00 for two cards and then paid the tax lady $10.00 for port tax. What that goes for we have no clue. Guess its to pay for the use of the water to float your boat in. Anyway we left there and asked a gentleman how to get to a bank and how to buy internet. Communication here is by speaking slowly and hand gestures. Even then the message doesnt come across easily. Darn it, where was my english to spanish dictionary again? Thats right, on the boat.....we finally got the jest of what he was saying and he us,so we went on our way down the street.
Reminds me of what Cuba might look like

We managed to find the internet place and signed up for a couple weeks. Very cheap at $18.00 for two weeks I would say. So now we are settling in, catching up with everyone and enjoying the culture. So many things are planned such as going to the 27 waterfalls at Puerta Plata and a day trip on a motorscooter or motorcycle which everyone uses for transportation around here. I saw 3 grown men riding on one and another man with what looked like a freezer on the back of his. At about $10.00 a day rental for one you cant beat it. Stay tuned and I will update as we go along.

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