Challenges & Rewards in Republica Dominicana

Submitted by eagle on Tue, 10/01/2019 - 14:17

A frustrating period. Rain, mosquitoes, dogs, "motorpsychos", more indigestion, hard to find wifi, etc.

Some locals offered me breakfast this morning. Malt beverage mixed with canned milk, some pastries, bread. Interesting.

Now in Cotui, this city is loud. Again, confirming my growing preference for towns and country over cities.

Often when I stop in a town in Republica Dominicana, people ask me "Que viende?" (What are you selling?). I must resemble traveling salesmen in this country, with my bike loaded full of cargo.

Bought some fruit from a roadside vendor. "Jagua" has a strong, pungent odor and flavor. Something like a mix of automotive or industrial fluids, and garbage or rotten fruit. Yet, juicy and somehow somewhat tasty.

Is that the same as duran/"garbage fruit"?

Now getting ready to ride further, towards some more towns for some more work.

It can be difficult to take care of business while touring. Still, you often get pleasant surprises along the way. It's a tradeoff, like anything.

Often you have to go through some serious discomforts to get to any serious rewards!

Eagle Gamma getting ready to ride in Republica Dominicana!

I haven't participated in, and am unlikely to, arguably two of Republica Dominicana's most prominent activities: bancas, and clubos gallisticos. Both of these involve gambling, a prominent Dominican activity. Also, the cockfighting involves violence, not my thing. The bancas are so common that I've even seen small towns that have these lottery stores but not any grocery stores.

Now riding through gold mining hills!

Riding Further in RD!

Submitted by eagle on Mon, 09/30/2019 - 14:33

Rode out of town.

Camped among some cacao!

Tasted amazing!

Eating fresh cacao is like eating cream, liquor, nuts!

Big thunderstorm last night. Soaking wet.

Another flat. Small one. Patched it, reusing a patch that had got wet the previous occasion. I let the patch, the bike, and my other stuff dry out in the morning sun first, before patching. Found a nearby puddle in which to test the tube for the hole!

Next probably ride into the town, Castillo, which boasts the best cacao on the planet!

Grab a bite to eat, then maybe ride around the countryside for a while.

The cacao tree is a somewhat ugly tree, unbefitting of its fruit. It has knobby bark, large leaves that don't smell much like chocolate, and wood that looks like it doesn't burn the nicely (although I may be wrong).

Now more thunderstorms, at least they're somewhat off in the distance for now. Unsure whether they're coming this way. Vulture overhead.

Yesterday, rode on.

Still more indigestion.

Stopped at several roadside groves to go to the bathroom. At one, right after going to the bathroom, I turned around, and there was a guy in Dominican military uniform, holding a handgun.

Kept riding. Found some oranges, cacao, etc.

Hungry, stopped in at a cafeteria. "Que hay a comer?" (What's to eat?) "No hay a comer. Hay chicas para sexo" (putting her finger through a finger and thumb on the other hand.

Kept riding. Those thunderstorms did come through. Ducked out of the rain at an old building. Camped out back.

Found another cataño. A fruit I've seen around. Everyone here seems to have their own word for it. Not sure if it's breadfruit? Planning to try cooking it.

Feeling sore and tired today. I think it's largely the cloudy weather. Hope I feel more alert later!

Yesterday, rode through small towns. Cooked cataño and onion on a fire. Super delicious!

Rode on a gorgeous trail, full of cacao and banana trees!

Riding on the Cacao Trails!

Tons of mud, mosquitoes.

Camped out in an old abandoned building.

While I wrote that cacao trees can be ugly, the leaves and pods are beautiful, and the trees do form beautiful canopies.

I feel much better in general nowadays when out in the quiet countryside. I'm tempted to take a while along my journeys and have another sedentary break, but in some small town.

 

More Routes in RD!

Submitted by eagle on Fri, 09/27/2019 - 15:35

For my upcoming route, I'm thinking, castillo, eugenio, cotui.

Maybe a rest day, e.g. Saturday.

Maybe a work weekend.

Looks like not much to the east of cotui.

Maybe ride around the countryside to the east of here for the weekend.

Then have a week with some more cities. Cotui, Bonao, etc.

It's interesting to see one part of a country, then travel further, then wind up back nearby the previous place, but seeing the region from a different perspective. You can see how the first place fits into the larger area of the country, and you can see it with fresh eyes.

If I go to Cotui this weekend, maybe make it a work weekend.

That seems reasonable, I see a few cities along the way for an upcoming work week.

Afterwards, maybe head over to the Jarabacoa area. Some Dominican places (like that) have names comparable to Puerto Rican places.

From there, head back towards Janico, then I can either make my way westward for any additional distance I want (I don't think I will, but maybe), or head back down to the coast.

Anything of interest on that western route?

At the least it looks like it reconnects with some larger roads!

Route Planning in Republica Dominicana

Riding around the Dominican Countryside!

Submitted by eagle on Fri, 09/27/2019 - 13:28

Picked up some vegetables and bread. I like Caribbean bread, it tends to be soft. In this area of RD, I've seen most colmados (general stores) selling a type of bread that has the approximate shape and size of Twinkies, however it's bread instead of sweets. Soft, fluffy, delicious. Often the handmade varieties already contain margarine!

Rode by a beautiful waterway. Reached a place where the map showed a bridge over a larger intersecting river. No bridge. Turned around. My recently bought bag of food had fallen out anyways. Went back, despite the length and repeating route. I generally like to take each route once only. Picked up my bag along the way. Sometimes you have to adjust to mistakes in planning!

Ate rice at a quaint restaurant overlooking a waterway. Soft, fluffy, delicious.

Then, by banana trees, at a narrow bridge, which people crossed by foot and even by motorcycle, I bathed in the waterway. First bath in a while!

Also, seen someone washing a bike in that waterway!

Rode on, camped.

Eagle Gamma in Republica Dominicana

More indigestion. Seems like a regular part of my travels in the Caribbean. I eat the local food, and drink water that maybe I shouldn't. Seems like a decent tradeoff.

Another foggy morning!

 

Through Central Republica Dominicana

Submitted by eagle on Thu, 09/26/2019 - 13:12

Last night, another thunderstorm. I had stopped at a house to duck out of the rain. There, I threw up. Not sure whether from tomato, dairy, water, or other cause.

Earlier in the day, I rode to the Sendero del Cacao (cocoa trail). It turned out to be a private company, a cacao grower. While their tours were for groups only, they did offer me a sample of delicious hot chocolate and some bananas. By the way, bananas grow side-by-side with cacao!

Now in another town. Having done some work here, I'm planning to ride east. Still unsure about my upcoming route, I'll think about that during my ride.

Rode through rice fields!

Made it to work before 9!

Loud, barking dogs.

Next, more riding!

 

Cibao!

Submitted by eagle on Mon, 09/23/2019 - 12:47

A gesture I like: fist to chest, thumb inward.

This weekend I think I'll explore Santiago. Looks like thunderstorms!

Republica Dominicana has huge geographic appeal on a small island. It has beaches, mountains, tons of tropical fruits.

After riding over the large mountain into the interior, I went into Santiago de los Caballeros. It was the first actual city I'd been in for a while.

A medium city, Santiago has far more cars than the rest of RD. In some areas, you can look around and even think you're in a more developed country.

While there were some different foods than I'd seen elsewhere in RD -- including okra, eggplant, tortas (a street pastry), rikis (street sandwiches), etc. -- it didn't strike me as much of a food city. Not too many restaurants, the food was often dry and lukewarm.

The people in the city were quite rude, often just due to the population density. I found my inner monologue quickly turning far more sour than usual.

Santiago does have tons of art: murals, colorful painted buildings, etc.

After touring the city, I went out of it for a walk. Thinking I'd find a camp spot early, I kept on going. And going, and going, and going.

After not seeing much in the way of camp spots, but yes seeing much in the way of charming countryside, I found myself over another large elevation.

Through different towns, I kept going on an accidental journey. As the sun was setting beautifully, I was getting worried about even finding a place. Finally, I came across an abandoned building, just when I wanted!

Resting, eating, recovering.

Now that I'm out of the city, in a different direction than I'd previously thought of leaving, I'm going to plan a different route. I'm thinking of extending my stay in the interior. However, it may be difficult to go slowly given how the land seems to push me along!

I've been repairing my bike. Jerryrigging. It's now more ridable than before, by far!

While traveling, one often faces fearful things. I think it's important to learn how to overcome such fears, while retaining enough awareness of fears to avoid serious dangers.

Also, annoyances. Loud sounds like dogs, motorcycles, etc., and stinging plants and animals, like mosquitoes, thorns, etc., annoy me. However, last night after making it to camp, those annoyances reminded me of the limited edition pleasures of bike touring. Instead of annoying me, they made me feel better.

I'm now thinking of staying in the interior until the second week of October or so, around October 7-15.

That's two weeks from now.

It looks like I went southwest. That's far from the eastern direction I had thought of going.

This may be tricky to get out of! :)

I may extend my inland tour to the west. I want to stay somewhat far from the Haitian border, as I plan to go that route later. Still, that leaves considerable room for seeing some of the small towns here. Not sure about getting much work done here though.

I'm now considering crossing into Haiti at the northern side of the border. I've been thinking where along the border would be best. Before I leaned further south, to make a shorter route to Port-au-Prince. However, it looks like there's not much on the Dominican side of the border. So, I may be better off seeing some more Haitian cities.

To the south of me, it looks quite sparse, only a few scattered villages.

To the west, it looks like there are more regular villages. That looks somewhat tempting.

One of my best recent purchases, or two in a sense, was a pair of portable batteries to recharge my phone. They each cost like ten bucks, and they keep my phone consistently charged, so that I'm not running out of battery when I need a map or phone or whatever. I still have issues with the map or phone or whatever, but at least I can use them!

I'm now feeling just about ready to leave RD, i.e. having seen much of what I want to see.

I still want to go to the land of cacao (San Francisco de Macoris), see the drier southwestern part, and see some more of the coast.

Also, I want to try chimichurris, and a few other food/drink items.

As I travel, people often think I'm from different countries. Some common ones include the US ("Americano!"), Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Uruguay, etc. I've also been asked if I'm from Russia, among other countries.

I'm flattered that Spanish speakers often think I'm from a Spanish speaking country!

I'm now thinking it will be at least mid-November when I get to Haiti.

I think I've found a route (after much searching).

If I go west from here, then I can tour some of the nearby villages. Afterwards, I can return to this general area, then head on an alternative route around to the southeast. From there, I can get to Cotui, San Francisco, and the rest of the inland region that I want to see. Then, I should be able to drop back down to the coast.

Much easier to plan along the coast, where there's often only one route!

I may drop down to the coast along the westernmost (and largest) slope from the interior. I already came up the road two to the east. The one in between goes through the city that I've already been through. That would instead mean doubling up on some coastal towns.

Or maybe I'll take the middle road, skirting around the inland city. That would possibly complicate my upcoming route, but may be worth it.

Actually, I don't think it necessarily complicates my upcoming route that much. It looks like I can go east instead of west next, seeing some of the remaining inland cities, then if I still want to return to any western stuff.

That may add an additional descent and ascent (probably compensating for my recent ascent). However, it would take me more directly to what I want to see, enabling me to leave the small western stuff for after.

Often while traveling, I have adopted the pattern of first seeing what I know I want to see, if there is a choice. So many things come up that deferring a chance can imply losing the opportunity.

I'm now leaning towards going east instead of west. I do want to see the eastern stuff more, plus there's another chance to see the western stuff later, when I'm already heading there. Doesn't seem to be much of interest to the west.

Also, even if it's more complicated or difficult, I can do much of that riding tomorrow.

Still investigating the map. It's quite a difficult terrain.

I think I'm going to go east. That way, I can see my desired cities next, getting some work done. Then, I can return to this area, either going down to the coast directly, or heading west if I feel like it.

In addition to looking fairly desolate, the western way seems to go downhill, approaching the sea. As such, it would be even more difficult to get back to the desired inland cities. So, I'm now leaning more firmly towards going east next, to the inland cities.

Dominican grass

Over a Mountain!

Submitted by eagle on Thu, 09/19/2019 - 18:44

After work, went shopping for provisions. Tried a yaroa, a fast food item I've seen on Dominican cafeteria menus. Turned out to be a hot mess of french fries, cheese, and other stuff.

Rode/walked up the first part of the hill. Slow-going, interrupted by a thunderstorm, but still I made better headway than expected. Now around halfway up the hill.

Camped out, one of the quieter spots I've found in a while. Woke up early again.

I had been concerned about the route being remote. I prepared by carrying more food and water than I ordinarily would. However, the situation was opposite: I hardly got away from the buildings and vehicles! Even came across numerous luxury vehicles. I guess it makes sense, this road leads from a bigger inland city to the sea.

Next I aim to finish the walk/ride into town. Then, get some more work done!

Eagle Gamma while traveling in Republica Dominicana

Tons of hardships along the way, but they build character, and they can even be kind of fun!

Also, tons of pleasures along the way!

I like the geography of RD. Tons of tropical plants, including numerous edible ones. I picked up a bunch of guava, etc., yesterday. The vitamin C, sugar, water, fiber, etc., may only represent small amounts. However, the taste is amazing, and the thrill of finding and eating such food is rewarding!

I continue to find country people friendlier than city folk.

My legs are somewhat sore from the walking & riding. Still, my body is holding up and performing way better than expected! Often the humidity makes me hurt. Now I'm doing fine.

Looking at the weather here in the mountains, it rains more, it's not as hot during the day, and it's cooler at night. I guess that explains different populations.

Made it to the peak!

Now a scary downhill ride.

Made it!

There's something exhilarating about large achievements, like climbing over a mountain!

My brakes barely worked. I had to manually pull on the front cable, hurting my hands, to slow down.

Now in the satellites of Santiago de Los Caballeros!

 

Climbing Up!

Submitted by eagle on Wed, 09/18/2019 - 15:33

So much different working in AC, with decent wifi. So accustomed to working in sun, w/ iffy wifi. Herenow can afford some indoors food!

Woke up early again. Beautiful sunrise!

Now planning my ride through the interior.

The first step involves a large climb to get to Santiago, the biggest city in the area.

Route planning, Republica Dominicana

I have to stock up on provisions before setting out, it looks like there aren't many towns along the way.

Then I'm probably going to head towards the second largest city, San Francisco de Macoris.

The upcoming larger city, Santiago de los Caballeros, is only 60 km away. However, the elevation goes over 842 m.

From Santiago to San Francisco, the distance is another 60 m. In this case, the route has only 143 m of elevation difference, largely downhill.

After that, I plan to make up a route, probably including Cotui, Bonao, and various other towns, depending on weather, interest, time, etc.

Then, it looks like I'll probably return to San Francisco, on the way back down to the coast.

Along the remainder of the coast, a city and a few more towns remain.

Then, make my way to Haiti!

As we continue to make our way, whether through countries or within a single residential area, we reorganize ourselves to improve delivery.

Likewise, the lands through which we travel, literally or figuratively, reorganize themselves to improve their delivery.

 

Westward Republica Dominicana!

Submitted by eagle on Tue, 09/17/2019 - 14:33

Whether you're riding, writing, or applying for gigs, the route is full of hardships. Just keep at it!

Atardecer, Republica Dominicana

I think that Dominicans have the most obnoxious music I've heard since some parts of Miami.

An epic journey just to get to work at 9 AM!

A continuing source of frustration and difficulty to find wifi in RD, but understandable in a somewhat developed country.

Eating delicious foods, some local, others local takes on international food. Had more Dominican breakfast today, which includes a wide mix of foods, from fried cheese and salami to plantains, eggs, spaghetti, and more.

Continuing to make headway westward along the coast, I'm planning soon to head back inland, and go up to the heartland, Cibao.

Probably the steepest part of the journey in this country coming up. Should also have some of the core music, food (cacao!), etc.

Previously I've mentioned that RD has some music that annoys me. It also has some music that I like. The music, like the population, is diverse.

I feel like I'm finally getting a feel for Dominican culture!

Dominicans are kind of noisy.

Typical activities include riding a motorcycle around (the country or city), eating and drinking hearty contents, including heavy doses of rice, beans, and tropical fruits, and yelling in good cheer.

It's not a particularly pensive society, but it does the basics very well.

 

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