DR Day 6: Beach day!

We headed out after breakfast for 'the beach day,' with us deciding to ride it, and not worrying so much when we got to the beach, but I wanted to get some souvenirs, and a special souvenir for someone, so we headed into Samana in the van before hitting the beach. The road I loved to ride on the bike, by van, was, well..ok, it sucked. That van made it to a lot of places, but it was certainly not a luxury ride through that section of road! Robert, Alida, Chris and myself went in the van, while Ed and Dana hung out back at La Tambora awaiting our return so we could jump on the bikes.

The 'tourist experience' was interesting. Just like in the Dominican Wal-Mart, some vendors seemed totally unprepared to make change. There was a strip of stores across from the water, and a local sort of tried to 'be our guide,' directing us into some store, then finding change for us, but we were pretty comfortable with Alida with us, to make sure we weren't ripped off. I grabbed my mandatory pair of shot glasses, then tried like hell to find a few things for a friend back home - a non touristy vase, and some small piece of jewelry with the local stone in it, preferably something that wouldn't make her neck or wrist turn green...that was a more difficult task than it should have been, and I'd been looking throughout the trip when the opportunity presented itself, so I wound up going into most of the stores.

I finally did find a suitable vase, but the jewelry was a no-go, with most of it being junk, except for one interesting piece made from some sort of 'lava stone,' but without the local turqoise-ish colored stone in it. I finally found a 'fine jewelry' store, and got excited for a few, as I saw some very nice things, seemingly just what I'd been looking for, and the jeweler spoke English to boot. However, that was short-lived, as when I asked about the price of a set of earrings, he punched what seemed to be entirely too many numbers into a calculator, then tried to sell me the entire set (necklace, earrings, bracelet), for the 'small' sum of $2,000USD. I tried for a bit to find something, as they had some very nice pieces, but when he was punching in 47 different keystrokes to give me a price on a single item, I just wasn't feeling like there was any reasonable purchase to be had there, so finally left, sans jewelry.

We got back to La Tambora, in what I was wishing would be my last ride on that road in the van, then headed out on the bikes, and rode some typical DR roads for a bit. I'm not sure what we passed through, but saw a cemetery on the side of the road, with a big wired off field with cows in it directly across from it.


Now, look at the picture below with the bikes in it...we noticed a small 'chunk' near the kickstand of my bike (on the left), that we'd been oblivious of when we stopped and got off the bikes. It turned out to be a desiccated huge frog, one that hadn't fared so well in the DR heat...tongue hanging out and stuck to the road. Nasty but curious and unusual...

Bikes getting a rest
Sad Frog

We headed back towards the beach at Las Galeras, one of the more touristy places, where you can rent small motos or quads, and stopped off at the beach. One of the locals tried to convince us to rent his boat to go to Playa Rincone, but we eventually managed to make him understand we're riding the motos to Playa Rincone, so..no thanks.

They were setting up for a carnival of some sort at Las Galeras, but instead of hauling things in mostly assembled, they assemble in place almost from scratch..

amusement rides being assembled
fair clearing on beach

We saw a pair of bikes that were somewhat unusual for the area..the one on the right is a Honda NX, which is a pretty cool smaller dual sport, I'd seen them in 250cc before in Costa Rica, this one was a 125, along with a Yamaha XTC, but couldn't figure out the difference versus an XT..

Local bikes

We drank 1/3rd or so of our Cokes, then gave them to a local disabled guy that you can barely see in the pic above..may have been MS or similar, not sure. but at least, 'Amigo, here you go' and handing him the Cokes was understandable, regardless of language..

The ride to Playa Rincone was pretty cool. Besides seeing Senor Frog, and the stop at Las Galeras, we got to do the dart and weave through Samana, not so many people out this time, but still always fun, then a mixture of almost decent to worse (in amount of pavement, not fun factor!) scenic roads, before turning off on to some mostly hard packed dirt.

This was one of the roads, sort of hard packed dirt, and is similar to 'the fun part' of the Samana ride with the dart and weave with locals zipping in, out and around...

Hard-packed dirt road

The hard packed went on for a couple of miles, with some mud and puddles mixed in, and some attempt at 'leveling' being done by someone, by filling in with baseball sized...rocks. They didn't make for the best traction ever, but it was a relatively easy, fun ride, just no huge throttle and speed corrections or hard braking..ok, except when it would be fun!

The hard packed opened up onto the beach, with a 'sort of path' that had been worn into the small amount of vegetation, leaving a sandy path of sorts. As we'd taken our time and done some riding before heading to the beach, the van was already there, with a tent, tables and chairs set up, about a mile from where we'd come out onto the beach, so off we went.

I'd started out going pretty well through the sand at a good clip, Trailwings notwithstanding, weight way back on the bike, and gently aiming for what looked like the harder packed sections, but no matter where we were riding, I'd inevitably hit a section of very loosely packed sand, and keep the bike straight while the front wheel did 'the sand dance,' wobbling it's way through the soft spots. I made it most of the way there in second at a good speed, before a particularly soft section made my butt clench a bit more than I'd like, so slowed down a bit and pulled alongside the van.

It was nice to de-gear, as it had turned out into a quite warm day, and the temperatures were already generally 15* F or so higher around Samana and the beaches versus back in the higher elevations we'd been in back around Jarabacoa and the mountain roads.

The beach was quite nice...maybe a dozen other people in total besides a few locals peddling cigars, snacks and massages. I grabbed a GatorAde from the stocked MotoCaribe cooler, and plopped my butt down in a chair to relax and take in the view for a few.

The water was nearly perfectly calm, and just gorgeous. We were in a cove of sorts, with land directly across from us as well.

A few buildings were around, seemingly abandoned, or simply not used..when we initially pulled up, I thought maybe there was a resort there due to the buildings, and the local vendors all worse a similar white shirt saying, 'Playa Rincone' on it, yet this building and one more were basically unused, perhaps in speculation that at some point, access to this beach would become easier..?

We had lunch at a smaller building off to the left of the picture above, where we got the largest glass bottles of Coke I'd seen in a while, like 1 Liter glass bottles, and the puppy, 'Pupita or Poopita' as we'd been nicknaming her, probably not to the amusement of Robert and Alida, who had since named her 'Perla,' got to see some of the native wildlife, and start yapping at it, and following it around. (It's a crab)

Hard-packed dirt road
Perla the puppy barking at a crab
Perla hanging out

Perla seemed to really like the beach, and is a digger...she spent ages rolling around in the sand, digging holes, and just laying there happily with a mouthful of sand. It didn't look like much fun to us, but she was having a blast!

The beach had a small peninsula jutting out on the right side, and the place we ate for lunch was on the peninsula, with no power as far as I'm aware - the chicken and fish was cooked on a large grill, and the drinks came from a big cooler full of ice and/or ice water. Robert and I went for a walk along 'the other beach' on the other side of the peninsula for a bit, and took a few pictures.


Someone's horse was tied out..bet he was a bit on the warm side (no shade!)

Tried to pet him, and he wasn't afraid or mean, just not super friendly, so I moved on back to the tent and chairs to let lunch digest.

We had a few 'visitors' while at the beach...this is one huge pig!
A pair of his smaller friends were also wandering around the beach, walking within a few feet of us, like most of the animals we'd seen so far, generally paying us humans no mind in their travels.

Hard-packed dirt road
Enormous pig
Some smaller pigs wandering around

With lunch digested, I was reminded they'd brought snorkeling gear in the stash of beach goodies (also had footballs and misc other stuff, pretty prepared :-) ). I grew up 10-15 minutes from the beach, as well as going on vacations with my parents where I'd spend the day in the water, preferably at the beach, but at least a pool always, and the water looked great, so I grabbed a pair of fins and mask and jumped in. The water was perfect temperature, just walked right in, and was relatively shallow for a good ways out. I swam over towards Ed and Dana, who were looking at fish off towards the side of the peninsula, where there was a mixture of coral and sea plants, and more than a few tropical fish.

Of course, one of the deciding factors in me liking Olympus SW cameras...while they have an annoying proprietary USB cable, which does NOT charge the camera(!!), and a lack of fully manual controls mode, being both shockproof and waterproof (not water resistant, waterproof to 30+ feet or so), really makes it an awesome 'adventure pocket camera.' My last one had been stolen, but I replaced it with the newer 1030SW right before the trip, and it was time to try for some underwater shots.

The shots did come out, but...I later was reminded that I really need to work on how to take decent underwater shots..I was usually paddling water to hold myself in place, or chasing the fish, which was churning the water with bubbles, which didn't always make for great pictures in the end..ahh well, next time!

There was a single fish, a white one with a yellow stripe along it's top, that I realize had been following me for literally 30 minutes, as I'd been swimming around, so of course, I tried to get a picture of the little guy, but every time I'd roll over or turn, he'd swim in close to me, so sadly, this is the closest I got to capturing him on film :-/ (Look carefully, at the bottom..it was like he knew I was trying to get his picture or something :-/ 

underwater pics are hard
Fish I almost got a picture of..kind of

I did, however, manage to capture a few fish in movie mode with the camera...not great, but it is sort of cool, sound included. It's my first attempt at underwater video, and like taking shots of moving fish underwater, I think I need to stay in one place versus moving around and 'chasing shots.'

The snorkeling was great, but while I'd coated myself with sunblock on my face and neck for the morning's ride, I kidded myself about 'I'm only going in for a little while,' followed an hour or two later by 'Uh oh, I can feel myself burning!' Which turned out to be pretty true- I got some serious sunburn on my back, for some reason almost in a cross shape - stripe across shoulder blades, and a strip down my back somehow..oh well, it was worth it, and I think Chris got it even worse.

Heading in for the day

We packed up around 4 or 5, again time being mostly irrelevant, as long as we made it back by sunset (around 7-7:30pm). We took it a bit slower across the sand portion heading back, then were ripping up the 'roads' once more :-)

We headed back towards Las Galeas, for a hydration stop and stretch, and were surprised to see the ferris wheel was now completed.


Our disabled friend from the morning was still there, immediately recognizing us, so Ed gave him a PowerBar before we jumped back onto the bikes.

DR doesn't have very many side streets, which is nice, but an adjustment - once you realize the likelihood of someone turning into your path of travel is lowered versus nearly anywhere in the States, you can ride with a bit more speed and confidence in some areas. There was a small side street off the main 'strip' in Las Galenas, and we had some time left, so decided basically, 'Let's ride!' until it got dark, so we headed off the side street to see where it might take us.

We had pavement for a while, then 'sort of pavement,' and passed what looked like an active resort/hotel of some kind..

A few dirt paths intersected, one with a sign to another beach..we didn't have time to explore it all, and came to what I thought was a driveway of sorts, but Ed said is the base for them to eventually build a road, possibly leading all the way to another beach area. Of course, there's really no way to tell if that project will be started this month, this year, next year, or ever...but someone had started it, at least.

So, we turned back around and headed back. I wasn't able to capture the downhill section, but be assured, it's going downhill over the slight crest shown below  


We made it back into Samana proper just before dark, the bikes looking like a pair of filthy whores, well 'used' for the day. 

Dirty Bikes

The Samana waterfront, with a mixture of local working type boats, and a small number of pleasure-craft, either the small handful of rich locals, or non Dominicans..

The road shown is much better than 'the fun parts,' but it's relatively smooth pavement going through the town itself, including a nifty traffic circle or two towards the 'end' of the town..then back into ‘suggestions’ of pavement...

The Samana waterfront, with a mixture of local working type boats, and a small number of pleasure-craft, either the small handful of rich locals, or non Dominicans..

The road shown is much better than 'the fun parts,' but it's relatively smooth pavement going through the town itself, including a nifty traffic circle or two towards the 'end' of the town..then back into ‘suggestions’ of pavement...


We made it back to La Tambora around dusk, after another session of dart and weave which I wish could go on forever, and settled into the pool and drinks routine, which was quite welcome - it felt like it had been a pretty long day, and it was now relaxation time. The 'Uncle' and 'niece' were there for dinner again, and dinner was very good as usual. There was a small black cat that had shown some interest in the puppy when we'd been out near the pool, and he/she was out making rounds of the tables with guests, where everyone just 'had to feed the poor kitty.' I bet that cat ate better than all of us, although I have no idea how she stayed so small! If I didn't mention it yet, all food and drinks were included at both places, with a full dinner menu, but a slightly limited drink selection. By limited, that really meant just no wine, something the first place didn't realize or worry about the first night at the Gran Jimenoa, until they realized we were draining their wine cellar the first night! :-) Cuba Libres (Free Cuba?) were the drink of choice off the drink menu (DR Rum, soda and lime), although the other choices were fine as well.

We all turned in fairly early that night, with the somewhat long trip back to Jarabacoa coming up the next day. Of course, it being the last night, I found out the wireless almost reached my room..it actually did reach the door to my room, but I lost it by the time I made it inside to somewhere I could set the laptop down. So, at least this night, I didn't sit with the security guard, and spent 30 minutes or so dealing with emails, read for a while, then called it a night. Today had been a really good riding day, one of those where you're nearly totally comfortable on the bike, had gotten comfortable with the different surroundings, and was just sort of in a good groove for riding, which we got a decent amount in, even if the pictures aren't showing it.

A really great day!