Page 5: - Dominican Republic - Tropical Motorcycle Adventure /w Pics -Cordillera Central Mountains
My plan is to spend the night somewhere in the mountain village Constanza. Constanza is located in a valley in the middle of the Cordillera Central Mountains, it is known for its strawberries, peaches, apples, garlic and potatoes. The reason I am going here is because I read that it is an unforgettable ride with beautiful vistas.
I pull into town at 4:00 PM on Sunday. The central park is a buzz of activity with hundreds of young people partying to loud music. I am toast. It had been a long day of riding and all I want to do is find a hotel and chill. There are several cheap hotels in town but I did not like the parking situation at any of them. Plan B: I find another park that is quiet. I pull out my Dominican Republic guidebook while I eat a couple bananas and slam some water. My guidebook recommends a couple hotels just before town that are in the $30 range. I guess I can handle that.
Rancho Constanza is set alongside the hills surrounding the valley. It has a large main lodge with 20 rooms and maybe a half a dozen cabins on the grounds, all with fireplaces. I think I am the only guest today. Part of my mission for this ride is to do a dry run without Heidi to see if the mountain roads are doable for our small dirt bike two-up and to investigate the area for hotels that are suitable for my number one girl. If not for the low water pressure in the shower, this place would have ranked an A+ in my book.
I wake up the next morning to a thick fog. That is OK, I like a slow morning drinking coffee and planning the days ride. The plan is to cross straight through the mountains on a rough dirt road to another mountain village, Jarabacoa. Along this dirt road are waterfalls where several scenes from the movie Jurassic Park were filmed. Sounds good to me. I also made plans to meet with the co-owner of the world-class motorcycle tour company MotoCaribe, Robert Cooper. Robert contacted me a few years ago while Heidi and I were on our Panama ride. He has read some of my ride reports here on ADV and saw that we lived in the Dominican Republic for a few years and rode a motorcycle here. Anyway, I contacted Robert and he invited me to spend the night in Jarabacoa with he and his wife Alida. How nice is that!
I try to have some food packed in my hotel room so I can eat first thing in the morning so I am able to hit the road with something in my stomach. I like to look for road food while in route but I do not like to be desperate to find food. A couple bananas, a food bar and plenty of water, that does the trick.
Bingo! Less an hour into the ride, I pass through a small village and see this, ‘Empanadas’. Heidi and I became addicted to empanadas when we lived here back in 95’ and have talked about them ever since.
Straight out of the fryer and onto my plate, or I mean napkin. I had to take this photo because I know it will make Heidi jealous.
Two fantastic chicken empanadas and a bottle of fresh squeezed passion fruit (in a used Fanta pop bottle) eaten roadside with lots of local company, I will take this opposed to a sit-down restaurant any day. Life is good…
Robert warned me that the rough dirt road I was planning on taking is undergoing some work. Bummer, the road is closed. I asked a military dude holding an M-16 if I can make it on my motorcycle. He tells me that no way, a bridge is out.
OK, I need to go back down the same mountain road to the autopista, over to another paved road that leads to the mountains village Jarabacoa. This is a much longer route but shorter in time, so I have plenty of extra time now to explore some back roads, which are strewn everywhere throughout the mountains here.
What a blast! I have the perfect machine for these types of roads. At times, I like to pretend I am a motocross racer but then I have to remind myself that I am all alone and haven’t seen anyone along these dirt side roads at all. And, these side routes are not highlighted on the route map I left behind with Heidi. No one knows where I am. I cool my jets. I am here to enjoy the countryside, not to race :)
Notice the sticks stuck into the ground along the trail. They are branches from a certain type of tree that within a year will become a full tree. I am sure they were planted here to help prevent future erosion.
I stop at the top of a hill at an abandoned shack for a rest. The building has a ‘for sale’ sign on it (Se Vende). There I notice a concrete stairway leading down a steep hill with a metal railing on one side painted yellow. I can hear what sounds like a waterfall in the distance so I lock the bike and start walking down. I walk down and down and down and down and down. I thought it would never end. It do finally hit the end at a small hydropower dam. There is one person stationed here at a small shack at the top of the dam. He is very friendly and enjoys telling me about the power station, the turbines and the cities that are powered by his turbines. What a score. This is the way I like to ride, ride someplace cool, get off the bike and get my legs, lungs and heart pumping.
What a climb. By the time I reach the top again, I am soaking wet, perfect.
Back on the autopista. Motorcycles are expected to ride on the road’s shoulder but you have to keep a good watch because I will often have to veer out onto the main part of the highway.
OK, I make it to Jarabacoa with plenty of time left before getting together with Robert. I ride around the village to get a feel of it and find the central park. I need a boot cleaning and I know I can get it done here. This kid is very pleasant and conversed with me like a professional. He points to a portion of my left boot that is scuffed from my shift lever and told me that he can make it like new for an extra 10 pesos, he is pointing to his black shoe paste. “!si!” (Do it!) He cleans, pasts and polishes like crazy all the time talking like an adult. I told him that when I come back with my wife, I will look for him.
---> Hold On, This ride keeps going :)
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