As the saying goes, the best laid plans of mice and men often go
awry much better than expected.
On Friday morning, the plan was originally to meet in Las Terrenas, me via bus from Santo Domingo and Robin by moto from Cabarete, where he was staying and surfing at the time. It didn’t work out that way, at all.After a few hours of work, I headed to where the local guaguas leave from towards all corners of the country. Parque Enrequillo is a pretty chaotic part of town, all buses looking the same but sectioned off by destination area through different garages on side streets, everyone just trying to usher you onto theirs. I found the area leading to the Samana peninsula rather quickly and fortunately, and asked for the bus to Las Terrenas. There was a problem with ‘the power’ or something, and the bus was not running that day. That wasn’t a good start to the trip, and I started thinking damn, Murphy’s Law. I called up my buddy (a fellow intern who finished his term and was traveling around the country for the week), let him know the bad news, and figured out a new plan.
I always wanted to go by moto to Las Terrenas, it just didn’t seem that reasonable considering I wouldn’t get into Cabarete until the early evening Friday, and it’s about 170-200km to Las Terrenas from there. For the sake of time, I was willing to give up one of my Goals – this time. Now that the bus wasn’t running, my only option to travel with him was by going to Cabarete, and he was willing to wait to start the trip until Saturday morning if I was still going to head up there. Alright, it was 12:30 and now I was going to take a Metro Tours bus to Cabarete, get in by dinner time, and stay at the hostel.
Another stroke of serendipity occured in the carro público on the way to the station. The (beautiful) señorita next to me was on her way to Metro Tours because she worked there, and she asked me where I was headed. I told her that I was going to Sosua (the last stop on the way – about 20 minutes from Cabarete), and she said that the only Metro bus there was at 4:00pm, putting me in Cabarete no earlier than 9:30. When I found this out, we were about five blocks from the Caribe Tours station, which runs hourly routes up there. How fortunate – I told the driver the change of plans. I got into the Caribe Tours stop, and went to the boletería to get my ticket. Paying 330 pesos (~$8), I had my 1:00pm seat. Getting my stuff re-organized by the counter, I overheard the person behind me in line getting a ticket to Puerto Plata (same route, stop before) – “A las dos?” “Sí, uno esta lleno”. I had gotten the last ticket for 1 o’clock. If I hadn’t found the Samana local bus station as quickly as I did, made my decision on how to proceed with the weekend as quickly, or gotten the tip from la señorita on the way, I would have had to wait a whole hour or more to get the trip started. Crazy how fortunate things turn out sometimes.
I can’t really say much about the bus ride, because I slept the whole way. I haven’t stayed awake for a bus ride yet here, and as many friends can attest, it’s not something new. I love sleeping on planes, trains, or automobiles. It’s the perfect time to nap as you don’t really waste anything. Also, it makes travelling faster.
I got into Sosua at about 5:30, not too bad for Caribe Tours. Robinho came and picked me up on the scooter that he had already rented, and we were off to Cabarete to stay in a hostel for the night. The hostel is called Laguna Park, and is essentially just a big house converted into a bunch of dormitories. We had a room with six beds to it, got a little hot at night, but worth the $12. As I was checking in, I mentioned how I had to rent a moto for the following day, and the manager – a German girl, now fired for no reason – told me she had a friend who rented them out for $9 a day. That sounded like a good deal – Robin was renting La Poderosa for $15 per. I gave the guy a call, told him I needed it Saturday through Sunday, and he said he’d drop it off in 30 minutes. Perfect.
I will introduce El Tigre Verde in the next installment, but let’s just leave it at it’s a gem. My heart actually skipped a beat when I first saw it. I paid him up-front with an 800 peso deposit as collateral, and he told me the way it works. There are no keys to this thing, just kick-start. I’ve already said too much.
For the night, Cabarete is pretty much the same all the time. I’ve now gone three times and the nightlife doesn’t veer from young internationals and seedy drug dealers at beach bars. It’s still paradise, no complaints. Our first stop was this hole-in the wall called Blue Bar, just a wood-walled shack with a counter, a couple shelves of liquor, and a couple refrigerators. Drinks come in styrofoam cups, the ice is scooped from a cooler, and the ingredients are out there for you to see your options. Your options are Cuba Libre and Cuba Santo – either rum and coke or rum and sprite. You tell the nice lady bartender, and she pours from a handle of Brugal and the 2-liter soda until the cup of ice is full. Capped, shaken, and paid for (70 pesos / $2), you take your drink and hang out in the plastic chairs on the sidewalk.
We went out with the new friends to this bar and one more before calling it quits due to our long road the next day, and retired for the night. Just how long the next day would be I had no idea.