01 June 2012


I spent a long Memorial Day weekend with some girlfriends in Cabarete, Dominican Republic. Now Lauren's been to the Caribbean a few times but this was the first trip there for me. If you read our blog at all you'll know I'm more of a stay in the shade kinda girl. I really enjoyed myself despite the extremely inauspicious beginning!

We had a flight out of the National Airport at 7 AM on Thursday. No problem, I was going to get up at 4:30 AM, the cab would come for me at 5:20 then make stops to get the other girls. No problem. Except we were flying United so...problem. I got a phone call from one of my friends at about 2:45 ish (AM that is) saying that our flight to Newark was delayed by an hour*. Normally that shouldn't be such a problem but we only had an hour layover for our flight to Puerto Plata and that is the only flight out of Newark to the DR. Another girl on the trip, our hero, managed to get United to change all our flights to a different 7 AM flight out of the Dulles airport. Which if you know DC you know is farther away. So instead of getting a cab at 5:20 it arrived at 4:30.

After that drama though we were good to go! We arrived in Puerto Plata and got a cab to Cabarete to the Velero Beach Resort hotel. Fantastic hotel! If you're headed to Cabarete stay here! It's super close to everything, has a nice pool, grounds, and the rooms are great. Since there were five us we booked one of the penthouses and had three bedrooms (one with two double beds), three full bathrooms, large living area, fully stocked (with equipment not food) kitchen, and a large balcony overlooking the pool.

 The bathroom I shared. The other two were ensuite.

 My shared room. The picture's really dark but you can just see the towel swans on the bed :)

 The dining area.

 Living room-entertainment center complete with DVD player.

 There was a full kitchen but I seem to have only take a picture of the stove. We really liked the stove.

 Living area again.

View from our balcony.

A great deal of the rest of the trip featured more like an entry from my other blog...unfortunately because I didn't think until too late to order a waterproof case for my camera so I don't have pictures of those parts. I do have a couple of all of us as we embarked on our first adventure the next morning...horseback riding!

I haven't been on a horse for at least 20 years so we told the guys that we needed horses for two experienced riders and two inexperienced riders (I being inexperienced). However I don't think anyone told my horse that he was supposed to be the inexperienced one.

I'm on the far right.

First, in order to get to the beach where we could ride we had to go through the water. I have never been on a horse in the water. And I'm not just talking a little ankle deep water, this was serious, came up to the horses' chest water. Which probably would have been fine but for the roughly made sea wall the very wavey water kept smacking into. And the horses did not seem anymore enthusiastic about the water as we were and kept trying to walk as close to the wall as possible...while we tried to pull them away so our legs wouldn't get scraped up along the concrete.

That survived, we got to a pretty smooth stretch of beach and one of my friends who is a really experienced rider, galloped away while the rest of us posted along in the awful western saddles. But then my horse (who apparently did not get the 'inexperienced' memo) took off after her. To my credit I managed to stay on the entire time, even when the surf came up on the beach which seemed to be my horse's signal for FULL STOP. And frankly I preferred the galloping. I forgot how a) hard it is to post in a western saddle and b) how hard it is to post! We only rode about an hour and wow were my quads screaming. That is also how I acquired large bruise number one.

On the way back we had to pass through the water again. One of the girls and I were riding pretty close together when a giant wave hit us really hard, drenching her completely, crashed into the sea wall and came back with almost as much force almost sucking me right off the saddle.

A little later that day we decided to check out the beach area. I really really wanted to learn how to kite surf and Cabarete is famous for it. However we gathered from the people we spoke to that it is quite a time and money investment (about 8 hours of lessons were suggested costing in the neighborhood of $250). So instead we took an hour lesson for $25 in windsurfing! Again, no waterproof camera case but I did take a few pictures of other windsurfers. Which is probably just as well because I guarantee that we did not look this good.

Despite all the falling off, the bruises and lacerations (my left leg still hurts and I seem to have messed up my left ankle and another girl got a pretty deep laceration and there were various other bruises) we had a riot. By the end of the hour most of us were at least able to stand up on the board, pull up the sail (although a few of us, myself included, had to use the kiddie board because we lacked the strength to pull up the adult sail!) and sail a few feet before falling in the water, on the sail, on the board...we pretty much fell everywhere.

I also, despite four applications of 70 proof sun block, one just before the lesson, managed to get a pretty bad sun burn. I would spend that evening and the next morning wetting and freezing a hand towel and draping it across my chest.

Also now I have plans to open a surf shop somewhere. I don't think any of the places we went were owned by Dominicans. A lady from Quebec owned our hotel and our windsurfing lessons were from a German.

We ended day one with dinner on the beach were saw a restaurant that was both incongruous to the surroundings...but also obviously this is exactly where such a place would be.

Jose O'Shay's Irish Beach Pub. Yes. No where is complete without and Irish pub.

Day two we got up early for our Iguana Mama pickup. Iguana Mama runs a variety of eco tours in the Dominican Republic and I have to say, the company deserves the high ratings it gets. We chose to do the 27 Waterfalls of Damajagua hiking tour. They picked us up a little before 8 AM, fed us breakfast and then off we went (along with the others who were picked up along the way) to the interior of the country. When we arrived we all stripped down to our suits, were fitted with life vests and helmets, and proceeded on a one hour hike to I think the top of the highest mountain in the world. I knew there was hiking involved but I was unprepared for this. Between the general heat and humidity in the country, the added heat and humidity of being in the enclosed forest, and a scrabbling hike up twisty, turny, barely there paths, I thought I was going to die. The website says this tour is for beginners who have at least some fitness routine. I take up to six dance classes every week, try to run three times a week, and every once in a while remember to do some yoga and weight training so I figured I'd be fine.

This tour was NOT for beginners.

Eventually we reached the first waterfall and things were down hill from there. Literally. We jumped off or slide down a series a 27 waterfalls (although we don't actually remember there being 27 so I think someone's counting is off) with jump heights of between 2 and 25 feet. I was convinced that there was no way I'd do the 25 feet but, after standing on the edge for about three minutes, I did! I hesitated to jump at pretty much every single fall. The slides I thought were easier because you couldn't see the bottom and didn't have to worry as much when the water you were jumping into was shallow. The hardest part was actually hiking between each fall because we were in and out of water and walking on river rocks which were very slippery and tended to slide and roll out from under you. Which did my ankle no good. It took us a few hours to get down the falls and we very much enjoyed being in the water. It was especially nice for me with my sunburn! And since we were under canopy cover we were rarely in full or direct sun. So despite the fact that Iguanna Mama's definition of 'beginner' differs vastly from mine, I still had a great time and was glad we all did it.

We ended that day at another beach side restaurant where four of us split two of the mixed sea food platters.

I could have eaten another. Between the lobster, crab legs, shrimp, and the most amazing grouper I've ever had...this was definitely a trip highlight! Although you still cannot convince me that lobster is better than crab.

Since the previous two days had been so physical and I didn't want to be anywhere where there wasn't shade, I turned down the boat trip on Sunday and decided to spend the day relaxing and taking pictures on the beach.

 This is why you need so many hours of lessons. See this guy's starting in the water.

 But now he's not so much in the water.

Now even less so.


Look at how high the kite pulls him!

Pricey little shopping area.

And this next series of pictures is pretty much all of Cabarete.

And now we're back on the beach.

When I got tired of taking pictures I stopped at a bar to relax and read for a while and had the best smoothie ever. Pineapple and lime juice, strawberries, honey, and, of all things, cinnamon. Then I went back to the hotel and sipped a couple pina coladas while I watched the sun set.

Overall this was an A+ trip and I would definitely return to the Dominican Republic. I would just remember that they have a funny way of defining words and put on sun block every five minutes.

1 comment:

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