Yep, back to the travelogue that is my life!
Of all the places that really touched me on this cruise, it has to be the time we spent on our excursion outside of Samana. I’d never been to the Dominican Republic before, and I really didn’t know ANYTHING about it.
Remember that whole thing about “In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue”?? Well he certainly didn’t land in Boston! He landed on the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean! It became the first permanent European settlement in the Americas.
The island of Hispaniola has two countries – with the Dominican Republic taking up about 2/3, and Haiti, which takes the remaining western 1/3.
This was our one port where tenders are required to get to shore. Never been on a tender? It’s nothing more than a shuttle boat that holds several passengers…you go from the ship to the tender, and from the tender to shore, and they go back and forth like water taxis all day long ---
It was an overcast day, but still very bright and glare-y and I was not so happy with how my pictures turned out on this day! The color seems washed out of everything, but I think it will still give you an idea of what our day was like. Here is one of the tenders making its way to shore. Depending on your excursion plans, you catch your tender at your designated time. We waited with our group in the theater until our number was called to go to shore.
Here’s our tender pilot--- waiting for us all to be loaded on so we can make our trip to shore!
A glimpse back at our ship with other tenders pulling up to taxi MORE tourists!
I LOVED the dancers as we came off the port! Bright swirling skirts and smiling faces….wonderful music!
We found our waiting spot, and when we had all gathered, we loaded on to the back of a truck and off we went. Or excursion today? A Bike, Hike and Kayak tour! ((Who’s big idea was this?!?!))
We loaded into the back of something resembling a MASH truck! Our guide, Haji is quite the dare-devil! He sat there on this seat, which is over the back edge hanging out the BACK of the truck…can you see that we are MOVING fast? look at the ground underneath him!
Little did we know that to get to our destination, we were being driven over land in this truck to the outskirts…about 38 miles away. This truck ride was just as much of an adventure as the biking, hiking and kayaking was!
We got to see some very remote beautiful areas…..and also saw how humble the living conditions in this country are. One of the things that amazed us right off is the number of people on motorcycles. Not the number of motorcycles on the road, mind you, but the number of people on EACH motorcycle!
I tried to get pictures, but I just couldn’t..but imagine if you will, a dad driving, a mom behind him..and between them…two or three little children! On ONE motorcycle!
Check HERE for some images I found online!
Things got more and more remote as we made our way off of the paved highway and onto unpaved and bumpy country roads. At this point I was wondering..just where the heck ARE we going to do this tour?!
How about here?! THis is where we stopped to get our bikes! Someone’s humble business, renting bikes for bike tours --- in the middle of NOWHERE! I don’t think there was even electricity here. We are pretty much in the jungle outskirts.
One other thing we saw lots of. Dogs. Running loose. LOTS of skinny dogs! It about broke my heart and I wanted to take them all home. DH says…Don’t pet the dogs!!
But but but but but!! Just look at that sweet face! And those ears! This little guy was still very much in the throws of puppyhood. I couldn’t resist. He wanted to play! And I broke ALL the rules, and petted the puppy while everyone else was getting measured for their bikes!
I mean REALLY!! Could YOU resist?!
On our bikes we went. Third bike day in a row. My quadriceps are feeling the strain early on, but I’m not sure if it is from the two previous days of bike exercise, or the fact that these bikes are really clunky and don’t want to pedal well! LOL!
Again, because we are biking, I really couldn’t’ take pics until we stopped --- I didn’t get any pics of us WITH our bikes, and I regret that! We biked for about 3.5 miles, but it was all on rutted unpaved roads, and I swear it felt more like 8 miles.
We rode through farm areas. We passed livestock: ((Goats, Cattle, Chickens, and Sheep, oh MY!)) and cocount trees and banana trees. We passed homes with people in the yards who waved and said “Hola!” as we passed. ((I’m sure they were thinking-- CRAZY TOURISTS!!))
I’m sure WE were the entertainment in a place with no electricity and/or indoor plumbing!
At one point, some sweet little girls ran out to the side of the road waving and shouting “Hola!! Como esta!?” ((My spanish is nearly non-existent so this was all I could translate!)) and they handed us flowers as we cycled down the road.
Such sweet giving, smiling faces in a place so remote!
This area is full of wonderful things to see..the cliffs are amazing, the vegetation is dense. It is SO other-worldly, I can’t hardly explain it, and this post is going to get really long with all the pictures.
At the end of our bike ride, we hiked to an area to see a blow-hole…..gotta be careful where you walk, and you don’t want to trip and fall. It’s completely volcanic out here, and the rocky ground is as sharp as coral!
See what I mean about the pics? the light and glare just washed everything out. But talk about sharp contrast from the jungle we just rode through!
Can you believe the color of this water?! Yes, it really IS that turquoise! It was like the tidy-bowl barge had sprung a leak!
This is an untouched photo..WOW!
Our tour was small, maybe 9 of us? And at this rest stop there was a small stand that had some local jewelry for souvenir purchases ---and also a woman who was taking her machete to coconuts for a treat for us! For $1 she would whack the coconut hull off, open the coconut at one end, and hand it to you to drink.
By this time I was starving, and that coconut milk tasted so good! Tart and tangy, different than I expected. After I’d drank it down, she cut open the coconut for me and removed the meat for me to eat. Boy-- coconuts are sure a lot of work for what little meat there is inside of them!
And I thought about this girl…making her living, chopping up coconuts for tourists in a very remote place of the Dominican Republic. For $1.00 each. And my heart was really humbled.
From here, we hiked, and hiked and hiked…
Dave and our guide, Haji ----taking the lead!
Yeah, I know..I have to take more pictures, and I’m holding up the group! LOL!
Take one of me too please…..I want to remember this awesome place. I don’t care of I’m so sweaty my hair is plastered to my head!
We walked and walked, and were passed by a couple of locals on a horse. Donkeys are common sightings as well!
More of our group bringing up the rear, and trying to avoid the mud puddles!
The scenery is just unbelievable. Everywhere you turn there is something threatening to take my breath away. I felt like I was stuck in some random episode of "Jurassic Park!!" Or a past season of "Lost"??
Can you imagine what Columbus felt setting foot onto this land?!
Coconut husks, drying in the sun on the side of the road. After seeing several piles of these, I asked about them. The answer is simple. The women use these for firing up their cook stoves. In an area where there is no electricity, how would you cook your food but with real FIRE? Here you go..grab a few of these, light up your oven and cook your meal.
More humbling thoughts. I am so grateful for all I have, and how many of us have so much but are so ungrateful or unaware?!
Our last stop was at the beach for some kayak time!
Of course, the camera did NOT come on the kayak with me, so I don’t have any pics of THAT adventure…but it was SO fun! And after my arms and legs felt like they were going to fall off, I had DH run me aground so that I could get out and just watch…..see that palm tree trunk just leaning there in the water? It made a great seat for me to watch from!
Hubster Dave in his kayak!
Before long it was time to leave it all behind, hoist ourselves back up into that truck and hang on while our crazy driver took us all the way back to port. This was a LONG adventure, and again I was so grateful for that coconut!!
There’s our ship, right out there in between the trees! I definitely feel a trip to the buffet coming on! It’s now about 3pm..and we’ve been going going going all day!
These are just some highlights, and I have more pics I want to save in an album, so feel free to look through as well!