I eschewed going to Juan Dolio beach with mis compadres in favor of going about an hour and a half deep into the heart of the country to do some back-country hiking and relaxing. I enjoy these quick solo trips on occasion – it feels like a reset. What I do not enjoy is planning, so I usually skim over it when
it’s easy toever I feel like it. In this case, I didn’t really plan how I’d get there, leaving that up to my ability to get around through questions and limited knowledge of the city’s port points. One thing I had down: the way to Bonao was through Tareabus. That would take me right there to where I could catch public transportation to my hostel in only an hour and a half. I ended up leaving at 10am and got to the place well after 3pm.
On Friday morning, I knew the general area where the Tareabus station was located – Parque Enriquillo. That’s where I went, expecting the locals to guide me to the promised bus. Dominicans have always been kind and helpful whenever I needed help, always leading me in the general direction of where I need to go, not necessarily how I want to go. When I got to the Parque, I asked a taxi driver where the station was and added that I was going to Bonao. He consulted with a buddy and he pointed it out, obviously offering to take me there for a measly 200 pesos. It was only 2 blocks up and 3 blocks to the right as he indicated, definitely not too far for me to walk and far too close to pay the tourist rate for a taxi. I followed the directions perfectly and came upon a stand of guaguitas (local buses). I had never seen a Tareabus before, and actually thought I was there. They gave the affirmative in the direction of Bonao, so I hopped in. The ride ended up being a 45 minute jaunt through the market portion of the city, ending up somewhere near the barrio Los Alcarrizos on Avenida JFK (Boston, think Newton/Rever; Seattle, think Fremont/Mercer Island). By this point, I knew there was no way I was getting into one of those nice buses that don’t make 100 stops, but at least I’m moving North, right? Whatever, I get out and some slick-looking guy with a bowler shirt and jeri curls beckons me to a guagua. I ask if he’s going to Bonao, get the affirmative, and cede to my fate of not getting there before 1pm. As disheartening as it is not having the trip go as smoothly as planned, it’s solace enough when things are at least moving in the right direction.
This was only an 80km trip, as the highway marker indicated a little after departure numero dos. It was great watching the kilometers-until tick from 78-67-59-48-38-28-23-18-14-10 until finally the Grease character directed I get off at the side of the freeway in the middle of what seemed nowhere. Leaving at about 11:30 from Los Alcarrizos, I didn’t get there until a little after 2, a good two and a half hours of 40km/hr stop-and-go fun. Where I got off did not look like a city that should have a spot on those big green signs, so I bargained with a motoconcho driver to just get me to the rancho in Los Quemados for 200 pesos (~5$). If I had known where I was, I could have taken a guagua for 35 pesos, but it was still a worthy cost considering (1) I didn’t and (2) it was 15 minutes straight shooting. Taking a motoconcho is a little unnerving as it is, but with a 25 pound backpack pulling the opposite direction as travel, it’s pretty tenuous.
Anyways, I finally get to the ranch, and meet the family that owns it and find my room, all very exciting stuff. It was very quiet there…a little too quiet. As a spoiler, I was the only guest the whole weekend as business is slow, muy mal. So basically I set up my schedule for the next day, had some of their homecooked dinner (a couple fried and scrambled eggs, some pan-seared salami, and rice (maybe rice, don’t remember). I had been reading my Spanish-language book which is mentally taxing, so I looked for a couple breaks on their library. Ended up choosing an Animorphs book where they find out evil alien-infested horses are trying to destroy Earth by destroying another alien’s toilet in Area 91. Also re-read The Great Gatsby, which actually kind of sucks. More on that in the next installment.
After that, I retired to my boudoir, read Animorphs in about 45 minutes, and then slept. Through sleeping, I had a nightmare where I got lost in Yellowstone with comically steep hills and it started raining and snowing and it was suburbia and I couldn’t use my phone because I killed the battery playing a stupid game called Jewel Quest. Whatever.
Reading: The Stranger, Albert Camus ; Travesía, Melvin Mañon
Listening: In Rainbows, Radiohead
Dominicanismo: Cansa’o [cansado] – It’s just ‘tired’ in Spanish, but it sounds cooler here