Page 17: - Dominican Republic Again - Tropical Adventure /w Pics - From the beginning
Cavebiker & Hipster, Mega Dominican Republic Motorcycle Adventure Continued
All is well in Constanza. Our hotel has coffee in the lobby. We enjoy a slow morning discussing the days ride plan.
Tom is worried about his motorcycle. He says it is sputtering, the rear break sucks and the front wheel resonates with a bouncing sensation at certain speeds, no fun . We decide to just take it easy back down the mountain and re-evaluate the situation at the bottom. When we start to climb out of the valley, I pull over to take some photos. I wave Hipster on, motioning for him to keep going so he can ride at his own pace.
I try to catch up to Tom before this empanada stand, but no luck. I had to stop. I buy empanadas for both of us and fresh squeezed chinola juice to go. I blast off.
I hoped Tom was waiting for me at the top of the mountain at the observation overlook area. No luck. I pull over to down an empanada and some juice.
I continue to fly down the mountain.
Tom is waiting at the bottom near the on ramp to the autopista. He explains how he pulled over a few times on the way down to squirt water from his camel back onto his rear break drum. He says people were looking at him weird as the steam rose off the break drum. Also, a couple bikers stopped to see if he needed help, nice. I ask if he wants the empanadas. He was not hungry. I ate his empanadas without a problem.
Tommy continues to worry about his motorcycle and the ability for it to make it any further. He has his map out and is motioning a line on the map with his index finger indicating a line running north, back along the autopista toward Cabarete. I feel my heart sink. ‘The end of the ride’ I kind of freak out and say “No! Not back on the autopista. We can ride back toward Cabarete through the center of the island and shoot toward the Samana peninsula. There you can decide if your bike can handle Samana or if you want to run for Cabarete” I said “Your bike already made it up the mountain to Constanza and back. We are done with the mountains now. We can just take it easy and see how it goes” Tommy agrees, he is glad we did Constanza and likes the thought of shooting toward Samana. Whosh! My engines fire right back up. We push on south back toward Bonao. Ten miles south of Bonao we are turning inland shooting for the Samana peninsula through the heart of the Dominican Republic.
We fly along the autopista. After we pass the Bonao exit we see the hotel the receptionist at the hotel in Bonao was telling us about. His directions in English were 180 degrees out. He said left at the autopista, it was right at the autopista. Funny, but I am not surprised, it is not uncommon to mix up right and left in a new language.
Tom’s injector oil light is on. We pull into a gas station for oil. Next to the oil, I see a bottle of octane booster. I ask Tom if he wants to split the cost of the bottle. The octane debate continues. Tom says “You only need hi octane fuel for hi compression engines, racing engines” I agree and say “Yes! you Need hi octane for hi compression engines, but hi octane fuel will make any engine run better, stronger and cooler” I talk about flame propagation of the explosion inside the combustion chamber. Hi octane fuel burns slower, the explosion’s flame propagates slower resulting in more power transferring to the piston and less energy wasted in the form of heat. The discussions are hi-level and intense. We end it with ‘agreeing to disagree’ and a smile. Tom and I have both worked in engineering for decades. We always enjoy engaging in hi-level technical discussions. I feel lucky to have such a friend.
We turn off the autopista at the city Piedra Blanca. We are heading inland through the heart of the Dominican Republic now. The map I have looks like we should have an easy time of navigation, but no, there are constant decisions to make as to what road to take. I ask directions. One elderly man suggests we ride back into Piedra Blanca, and then turn right somewhere. Our map shows no options to turn anywhere. We conclude that he has never been to Cotui and probably has never ridden anything but a donkey. A block later, I ask another person sitting on a motorcycle which way it is to Cotui. He confirms our suspicion that we need to go left at the fork, not right.
The countryside is very interesting. It is again a new Dominican Republic to us and we are in awe of the beauty of the landscape and the variety of sights.
We see a huge lake off to our right hand side. I see the lake on our map but the map indicated that it should be on our left hand side.
When I ask directions, I try to ask only about the next large city we want. In this case we are trying to get to Cotui. The road we are on suddenly turns to dirt. Our map indicates a highway, meaning it should be paved. We push on.
We arrive to another fork in the road. Again, there are no forks indicated on the map. I see a half a dozen people working on a home. I kill the engine, take off my helmet and try in my best Spanish to ask ‘which way to Cotui’. One of them suspected we are foreigners and wants to speak English. With a huge smile, he is rushing toward us speaking bad broken English seeming delighted to be trying. A friend of his is following doing the same thing, trying to speak English. They are very friendly and helpful spelling out complex directions on how to get to Cotui, half in bad English, half in rapid Spanish. I try to confirm the directions and say “We turn right up ahead then left at the school” Both the people confirm saying “Turn right” motioning left with their left arm “Then turn left at the school” motioning right with their right arm… At the first intersection, I pull over and ask another person sitting on a motorcycle which way we turn to get to Cotui. Sure enough, we need to turn left where the last directions said turn right. I talk with Tom about what is going on here. “Those last guys mixed up the English words for right and left. That’s the same thing the receptionist in Bonao did, mix right and left up!” We both had a good laugh.
We continue to push on and ask directions when ever we see people to ask. Again everyone is over the top friendly and helpful and left us with the definite impression that we can get to Cotui the way we are riding but it is anything but straight forward.
“¿cuál camino a Cotui?” (which road is to Cotui?) “derecha, izquierda, derecha, bla, bla, bla, bla……..” (right, left, right, ……..)
All the help we receive makes us confident we are going to make it to Cotui, eventually.
We ride on, and on…..
We pull into a larg town and could not find the town on our maps. I ask someone standing at an intersection which way to Cotui. He confirms that Cotui is straight ahead. I also get a whole lot of other information, all of which totally confuses me. I think this guy said Samana is to our left. My calculations are that Samana is to the right. We push on to Cotui.
It is the middle of the afternoon and I think it is a good time for a snack. I see several stands like this and pull over and see what this stuff is. All I understand is that it is made from corn. I order one, 66 cents. It tastes fantastic and appears to be a good source of carbohydrates. I try to get Tom to try one but he is not interested.
We pull into Cotui,. Sweet! We know where we are. I have not felt like I knew where we are for most of the day.
We gas up and continue riding through Cotui. We see a road sign that suggests we are heading back to where we started. WT. We continue and see another road sign that confirms we are heading back, the wrong direction. I don’t know how we did it but we entered Cotui from the north, not the south as expected. At least that explains why it took us so long to get here.
We do a 180 and proceed to ride back down the road we came in on. We get to the road where the person gave me confusing directions, saying Samana is down the road. I turned down that road. Several miles later, we see a sign confirming we are riding toward Samana. Unreal! If that person did not give me all that extra information, we would have never known this road is the way to get to Samana. It is a blind road with no signs indicating what is down it. Karma? Good luck? Dumb luck? I don’t know and at this point I don’t care, we are just exuberant to be headed the correct direction.
It is getting late. I try to step up the pace a little so we can make it to Sanchez, the start of the Samana Peninsula, where I know there are hotels. I try to keep Tom in my rearview but at one point, I lost sight of him. I pulled off the road and waited. I figure he pulled off to take a pee. A few minutes later, I think I see him pulled over on the side of the road several hundred yards back. He is pulled over on the opposite side of the road. I ride back to see what it up.
Yup, flat tire…
I immediately suggest he push his bike to some shade. I get out my wrench. Tom attempts to take off the axel nut but the axel just spins and spins. We need two wrenches. I try to use my heavy-duty needle nose pliers, but no good. Tom says when he first got the flat someone pulled over and he thinks said a motorcycle shop is not far up the road. I take off down the road in search of a shop or hardware store to purchase another wrench.
2 miles up the road, I run into a motorcycle shop. Of course, I had a blast explaining our situation and our need for another wrench to get a rear wheel off.
Wrench in hand I fire off. We get the wheel off in no time. Tommy has tire irons, a spare tube, air pump and a tube patch kit. He is having a hell of a time trying to get the tire off the rim saying it's dry rotted. Soon, a woman and her daughter pull over to see if we need help. Tom indicates he doesn’t need help but when he is explaining to me why he cannot get the tire off the rim, she jumps in, takes over and pops the tire off the rim with her foot and bare hands.
I’ll tell you, you probably had to be there but the scene unfolding is hysterically comical. After the woman notices I am taking photos she acts like she is the star of the show and wants to do everything, constantly shoving Tommy aside. Tom tries hard to be involved but this woman knows what she is doing and wants to do it all.
Her daughter waits patiently.
Two other gentlemen stop by and try to lend a hand. I explain to them how lucky we are that this woman stopped by to help. Big smiles and laughs all around.
The new tube is in. Tom is trying to pump in air. The woman who is helping, grabs the air pump and wants to show Tom how to do it. It turns into a kind of wrestling match for the air pump. They pumped and pumped and pumped. Finally, taking turns with the pump. After the tire does not inflate, the situation is obvious. The new tube has a hole in it.
OK, I grab the tire and rim. The woman tries to grab it away from me motioning that she wants to take it to the shop. I explain to her that I will take it to the shop and thanked her a thousand times for all her help. I began to bungee the wheel to my bike. The woman jumps in to help. She comes up with a much better method to bungee the wheel to the back of my bike then I had. I thank her again.
While I am getting ready to ride, Tommy knows he should tip her but moves close to me and says “But I think she pinched the tube and punctured it” Funny, but she tried.
Back at the shop, I again have a good time explaining how my friend put a hole in the new tube. The mechanics pull out the tube and discover that the supposedly new tube has 2 holes, a scraped area full of holes, and already has two patches on the tube. It is definitely not a new tube. They say that this tube is beyond repair. I ask if they have a new tube. They do…
The new tube is in and ready to roll.
We continue down the road toward the Samana Peninsula. We are so glad to be back on the road. It is getting late. I pull over to discuss the situation. I think we need to change plans and head toward the next major city and try to find a hotel ASAP. He agrees.
We are shooting for Nagua, a large city on the north Atlantic coast near the start of the Samana Peninsula. We are running hard. Tom’s headlight goes out again. He pull over and contemplated strapping on his LED headlight in place of his headlight. He turns on his blinker instead, which luckily did not blink, just stayed on. We pulled in Nagua at dusk. Great but now, we need to find a hotel. I thought I remembered some hotels along the coast when Cavegirl and I rode through here last. Just before the coast, we see a hotel that looked good. We pull in. I take off my helmet and ask an older man if there is a room available. I tell you, the look he gave us was so funny it’s hard to describe. He looked at me, he looked at Tom then started hollering to a woman something that sounded funny. We are shown a love room with one huge bed. Ha ha, ha. I thank them but say we need two beds “necesito dos camas” The madam says it is a big bed. Tom and I laugh but decline.
We ride on and soon hit the coast and another hotel. This place is a normal hotel, $30 a night and is just across from the ocean. Again, we luck out big time. It is quickly becoming dark. I am ready for a beer and some food and so is Tom. Just before we leave the room, like always I take inventory to make sure I am ready.
“OK, I have my fake wallet, pepper spray and switch blade. Everything is locked up. I’m ready” Tom quickly arranges and hides his cash and credit cards in his boots. Perfect.
A couple blocks down the road, we hit a cool open-air restaurant across from the beach. After we eat, we begin to march into the city looking for more beer. We found a liquor store with huge speakers outside and several people hanging around drinking and dancing. Beer in hand we join in. Fun time…
This ride is not over yet! Stay tuned…
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