Page 7: - Dominican Republic - Tropical Motorcycle Adventure /w Pics
Heidi & Tom do Samana Peninsula:
Almost every day Heidi and I ride six miles up the north coast to Gold’s gym, and that means we are likely to hit rain once or twice a week. Last week while caught in a downpour the motorcycle conked out. Ouch, bikes are supposed to be able to get wet. We coast over to a driveway that leads up to a ranch and the rancher just happens to be standing at the gate, he walks over to talk and see if we needed any help. While trying to restart the bike he smells gas and suggested we shut off the petcock, thinking we flooded it. He tells us he use to be into motorcycles when he was younger and had a bad accident once spending three months in a hospital. Anyway, he suggests we just wait a while before trying it again. He talks about his ranch, about when he lived in New York and how he likes his life here in the DR. Heidi mentions how we love the island. He says “Yes, the island is beautiful but some of the people are not” We know what he means, we know first hand. Heidi says “Yes, there are bad people everywhere”
After a few minutes, I try the bike again. It fires right up. Heidi and I both thank the rancher for his help and say we enjoyed talking with him.
So what the heck is with the bike? I remember while riding my first motorcycle, a Suzuki 100, through the snow. When I rode on salted streets, the sparkplug would short out and kill the bike. I remember wiping off the plug and plug wire with pure snow to get it running again. I thought that having our bike parked a hundred yards from the ocean surf everyday was our problem. I am sure the plug and plug wire is coated with a layer of salt slime, just like the slime that coats our sunglasses every day we walk the beach. My guess is that the salt slime mixed with rainwater is what is shorting out our bike.
We are getting ready for a week long ride to the east end of the island, and chances are we will hit rain. I do not want to have the bike stall with Heidi on board, ever, especially in a heavy rain. Because of the radiator on the engine and all the plastic cowling that goes along with that, the plug, wire and coil are hard to get to. I purchase a can of WD-40 and spray it all over the plug and wire in an attempt to clean off any salt. I will not know if I did any good until we get caught in another heavy rain. Fingers crossed.
All Right, Heidi and I have our island life routine down. We lift, swim, windsurf, beach walk, read, write, try to eat healthy and play cards. We call our life ‘our job’. We like what we do but like with any job, sometimes we need a vacation (wink).
We are off to the Samana peninsula, the extreme eastern tip of the island. It is a long ride so we get up early, slam a fruit and yogurt shake with plans to eat more on the road. Fifteen minutes down the coast, we stop at our favorite Dominican restaurant in Sabaneta. Two fried eggs and a mound of mashed potatoes is a perfect way to start any long motorcycle ride.
The north coast of the Dominican Republic, east of Cabarete is a beautiful ride filled with incredible scenery, palm trees and ocean surf.
Our bike is a Yamaha DT-125 Enduro. I love the bike, we both do but the seat is not a touring seat. So that means when we are on a long tour we need to stop often, but that’s OK with us, it’s the way we like to ride.
When we see a spot to pull off the road with palm trees and an ocean view, we stop, rest our behinds and talk. We have this cruising system down. Our conversations are geared to our ride, our planned destinations, what we need to be thinking about while on the road and what we need to be looking out for. My sprits light up, I am so lucky to have Heidi as a riding partner, we are so in-sync. Now I just need to be smart and constantly vigilant, safety is number one, fun is automatic after that. It is not an easy job, but it is a job I accept with every ounce of my being, the payback is huge.
We love checking out the beachside homes here and envisioning the Robinson Crusoe life people must have who live in them.
Another nice looking spot to pull off the road, Heidi thinks we are intruding on the game if we rode past. We stop short of the beach and get off the bike. The players stop the game and tell us to pass. We tell them that we are just resting and will enjoy watching the game. I said “!Republica Dominica beisbol es primero!” (Dominican Republic baseball is number one!)
I prefer to stop at places like this to buy water or juice while on the road. It’s mainly for the cultural experience, plus we enjoy helping support the rural economy. I cannot get anyone to wait on me here, several polite “Hola” s but no one appears. Then a person sitting at the restaurant next door comes over to help and shouts “!Pedro! ! Pedro!” that works, Pedro pops out of a back room and sells us a few bottles of water, perfect.
Heidi enjoys hanging around the motorcycle and taking photos of the local traffic and the scene.
We pass through a few large cities and several beach communities before reaching the Samana peninsula.
Stopping to rest and hydration at the village Sanchez, this is the start of Samana peninsula. Our plan is to eventually loop the peninsula starting at the village Samana, then a couple nights in Las Galeras and then a few in Las Terrenas, sounds good. When we rode through here back in 1995’ there was no place to stay in Las Galeras and the road to Las Terrenas was so bad we never made it. However, the word is that things have changed a lot in the past fifteen years. We will see…
Samana is a beautiful port city where sailboats spend extended periods of time because of the protection from the trade winds and hurricanes. Many boats never leave…
In an open field taking photos a Russian tourist offers to take a photo of us, nice.
We spent a few nights here back in 1995’, back then the city was real low key but on our way through this time it feels like the city is bursting at the seams. There is a huge cruise ship anchored off shore with hundreds, maybe thousands of tourists milling about. All we want to do is look at our guidebook and talk about where we want to spend the night. I pull in front of a row of open-air bars looking for a place to sit, chat and buy a couple bottles of water. Unfortunately, the bars are all hopping with tourists and pounding loud music. Immediately a waiter tries to seat us but the music is too loud. Then a tourist woman rushes at me saying that the beer here is the coldest she has ever had. I thanked them both. Heidi and I jump back on the bike and roll out of ASAP. We agree to just wing-it and head for Las Galeras now.
Heidi asks if I know where I am going. “Sure, we just hug the coast. If we see water on our right, we are going the right direction” Heidi gives me a little jab, which means ‘Yeah! OK Tom---’ But I also knew it is a little ‘love jab’ because she knows I’m confident.
Heidi notices some kids watching a baseball game.
We like how people hang laundry here, on a fence, on rocks or just about anywhere.
Las Galeras is a stunningly gorgeous beach. When we lived here between 95’ and 97’, it was our favorite motorcycle destination. Back then, the road from Samana to here was all dirt with nothing but coconut plantations in between. Now there are several resorts and a few small communities.
Caribbean biker-chick, I like it!
Heidi is trying to take over my job as photographer…
This is the island we photographed back in 96’ We remember saying to each other that we wanted to live there.
The road ends at an open-air restaurant on a Caribbean beach.
There are several hotels and B&Bs in Las Galeras now along with a bustling but small village. We get out the guidebook and look for a place to spend the night.
While setting up the camera an American, John, offers to take a photo.
John and Linda from New York. What a nice couple. We talk, laugh, tell stories and drink beers, what fun. We could not believe how much we had in common. They are even staying at the hotel we picked, a small B&B just up the road.
What a fabulous place. The owner designed and built the B&B, a work of art. And, the breakfast is as much as you can eat and drink. It is more then I like to pay but well worth it, especially if you consider the breakfast. The owners make us feel like we are at home.
We spend a long morning drinking coffee and chatting with Linda and John. We should stay another night but I am anxious to get to Playa Bonita near Las Terrenas. We will return and spend more time in Las Galeras and definitely stay here.
--> check it: Sol Azul www.elsolazul.com.
Before leaving town, we stop for water. When I went to turn the cap back on the large plastic water bottle I notice the cap is cracked and does not hold a seal. I cannot remember if the seal broke when I first opened the bottle. Heidi and I looked at each other with a ‘OF’ look. We left the remaining water behind…
Hold On! This ride is far from over.
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