Page 15: - Dominican Republic Again - Tropical Adventure /w Pics - From the beginning
Cavebiker & Hipster (Tom J & Tom C), MEGA Dominican Republic motorcycle adventure.
OK! We are starting today at the Northwest Atlantic coast near Monte Cristi. We decide to skip Monte Cristi today mainly because we were going there only to spend the night and enjoy some seafood. We accomplished that here at playa Rucia and more. The goal today is Jarabacoa, the mountain village where MotoCaribe is based and is near the area where several Jurassic Park movie scenes were filmed.
First, we plan to point south toward the interior of the island and some rural roads never visited by tourists, just the type of areas I like to ride. When we reach the foothills of the large Cordillera Central Mountains, we will attempt to skirt around the foothills until we connect with a seasonal trail that leads high up into the mountains above Jarabacoa. This should be a fun day but the slow dirt roads we are riding could be a navigation challenge and reaching Jarabacoa today may be difficult. But hey, we have to set a goal, then try our best. If that doesn’t work, we will come up plan-B.
Super, our $30 hotel has breakfast and coffee waiting for us upstairs. We are ready to roll early. Hipster shows concerns about his curled front break lever and the $1,100 security deposit he has on the bike. He is wondering if it can be bend it back. I don’t think it can. The cast aluminum is now case hardened and it will snap off as soon as anyone tries to straighten it. He still wants to find a shop and have them try. I suggest buying a new break lever and tell him “that may run you three or four dollars though” (wink)
We ride down a rough dirt road through a small fishing village, Papayo. The scene here is tranquil and serene.
I stop to chat with a few locals to see what’s up. This guy is getting ready to head out to sea.
We decide to stop and turn off the bikes to wait for this herd to pass. No need to excite them.
Moo! Notice the cracking whip.
The terrain is arid in this part of the island. We seem to be in the middle of nowhere when we run across a biker standing next to his bike He seemes to be in trouble. We immediately stop to see if we can help. We are all bikers and this is what we do. He is indicating his chain is loose and it had just fallen off. His hands were black with grease. I tell him I have a wrench and asked if that is what he needs. I get a big “si” and a smile. I dig into my backpack, pull out the wrench and hand it over. He loosens his axial nut then begins to tighten the chain tension.
All is good. Maybe I am selfish, I think this is goof for my karma. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know it definitely makes me feel good,
Hipster mentions bananas. I see a stand in a small town and pull over. I hand the store owner 25 pesos. He bags up the whole bunch and hands them over. We eat and eat them throughout the day. I stuff them in my backpack.
The store minus a pile of bananas.
We cruise and cruise and cruise. I see some shade and spull over for a chain oiling. Tom oils his also. Chains oiled, bananas eaten and water sucked down, this is a perfect ride break.
We are in constant navigation mode now. Our route today involves changing roads several times so I try to confirm directions often. Soon we find ourselves in a city we didn’t expect and couldn’t find it on the maps. We continue to push on, hard…
I see a motorcycle shop in a small village. We pull in and park the bikes. I ask a mechanic who is outside working on a bike if Tom's curled front break lever can be straightened. He gives us a solid ‘No’ indicating that it will break off. ‘Great’ I think to myself, now I get to go inside another Dominican motorcycle shop, chitchat and buy motorcycle parts with someone else’s money, how great!
We walk inside the shop. I ask the clerk if they have a front break lever for a DT125. The woman instantly grabs a lever from a racj behind her and hands it to Tom. He is acting suspicious and wants to take the new lever outside to see if it is the right one. Now, the bad news. How much? Fifty pesos ($1.34) Oh Yeah!
A mechanic instantly wants to install the lever for Tom, cool. He installs it in no time. Tommy give the mechanic fifty peso for his effort ($1.34), everyone smiles, Life is Good…
We ride on. We are making good time but soon found ourselves at a major intersection with some signs indicating the distance to a few cities. I have not been feeling good about the direction we have been traveling lately so I suggest we pull over, look at a map and try to see ‘where the hell’ we are. I park right next to one of the signs then began to look for those cities on my map. I ask Tom if he would mind walking toward the other sign to see what cities are indicated on it. He comes back and informs me the other sign says ‘Monte Cristi 20 Kilometers’ AHHH!
I had a bad feeling that the turn we made in a city a while back and the information two guys in military fatigues, who were trying to ignore us, was bogus. The ‘Monte Cristi 20 Kilometers’ sign confirms that. I look at the map and determine that we are at an intersection on the Haitian border. Now the only sensible direction for us to travel is along the Haitian border to the large border city, Dajabon. I did not want to clue Tom into this fact just yet. I just wante him to know that I know where we are and where we need to go so we can get back on track. We blast off.
Needless to say, based on the instability and unrest and the cholera reports along the Haitian border, I did not want to spend a lot of time to take photos and dink around. I just want to get to the border town Dajabon where we will connect with another road leading west toward the Dominican Republic interior, away from Haiti.
Twenty miles later, we pull into Dajabon. At a main intersection, I see a bank on each corner. I am in need of some pesos so I pull over into a bank parking lot and told Hipster that I am going to walk across the street to an ATM. Tom waits by the bikes while several venders on foot are trying to sell him shoes. Dajabon is a well-known town where Haitians cross the border on foot carrying loads of knock-off shoes and clothes. Dominicans from all over the country come here to trade food for the knock-off goods, and then sell them throughout the country.
While walking across the busy intersection to the ATM, I felt a little weird. I am carrying my backpack and a side pouch bulging with my good camera. As I walk into the bank, I notice people standing all around. I can feel eyes follow me the entire time. I am not naive to situations like this. I always carry pepper spray in my hip pocket and two knives, one long blade switchblade and a locking blade pocketknife. When I walk, I walk with confidence and determination. Anyone eyeing me up for no good knows that I will not go down easy, not a muggers first choice. Anyway, no big deal, this is the way I always act, nothing new and nothing happened.
Back to the parking lot where Hipster is waiting, he informs me that the venders were mean to him when he was not interested in looking at there wears. I thought this was the time to fill him in. I say “do you know what that is right over there” I’m pointing west.
I bulge my eyes out. “Haiti”
I suggest we get on the bikes and get the ‘F’ out of here. Tommy agrees, we ride down the road thinking we were heading out of town but of course, we find ourselves on a narrow residential side street that suddenly dead-ends. At the end there are several locals sitting around on folding chairs. I have a gut feeling that we should leave this area as quickly as possible. I do a 180 and buzz back to the intersection with all the banks. I have a feeling I know the way to get us out of town. Tom follows. I don’t want to take the time to explain the situation. By the way I am riding, I know Hipster knows I have a plan to get us out of here. Luckily, I did and it did get us out of town and pointing the correct way into the DR interior.
All is good. We are riding through new and beautiful country. We constantly verify that we are riding toward and through cities that we are expecting. We are back on track but far behind schedule. We both agree that no way are we going to make Jarabacoa tonight and that eventually we are going to have to develop our plan-B. Fun stuff…
We ride hard, eat bananas, ask directions and ride hard some more. We made good time and arrive in the large city Sabaneta (not the one near Cabarete) faster then expected. I am hungry and I knew Tommy had to be hungry also. We pull over at a small market in the center of town. I buy two yogurts and a large Gatorade. Tommy gets water and a pack of Chinese cookies. We eat standing outside the market. A local comes over to see what we are up to. He is very nice. We tell him we are shooting toward Santiago and ask him what road we need to take to get out of town. He explains it but the directions are complex. He has a motorcycle parked in front of us and offers to escort us out of town, super nice. He know we do not have time to make Santiago before dark and said that he lives just up the road and offers us to spend the night at his house. He said that he is a baker and showed us, in the market window, what he bakes. We thanked him a thousand times “mil gracias” but said we just need to be closer to Santiago before we call it quits for the night. This is another ‘over the top’ pleasant DR experience.
We continue to ride hard. We know we need to find a hotel soon. At the first large city, Mao, we start looking for hotels. Mao has zero hotels. The second city has only ‘by the hour’ hotels, the third city has only ‘by the hour’ hotels. We are starting to freak out a little. Next, we change directions and ride north to a major highway and hopefully some larger cities with real hotels. It is getting late and starting to get dark. I repeat to Tom that ‘I will not ride after dark’ and said that we may need to camp in someone’s farm field. After many ‘by the hour’ hotels in Navarrete, we finely find the only legitimate hotel. It is a nice place with a bar and restaurant. We cannot believe our luck again.
Beer, street food and more beer at a local hangout in Navarrete, an excellent way to end a great day of riding in the DR.
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