Slow Songs in Monte Cristi

Submitted by eagle on Fri, 11/08/2019 - 15:31

Camped by the beach!

Bathed in the sea.

Slow morning.

Looks like Monte Cristi is a small town. Still not sure exactly how long I'll stay here. At least through the day, maybe through the weekend, maybe even another week or two.

Often I find it hard to get started for the day. Once I'm into a day, seems like things often take on a course of their own. Then it becomes much easier just to push through one challenge after another. Often it's the first steps that are the hardest.

Each day is so full of choices!

Found a seaside restaurant with gorgeous views. Would be nice to have a camera to take photos. Also, as usual, wifi seems to have issues. Trying a new breakfast dish, fried stewed ham with fried plantains.

The province I'm in borders on Haiti!

The road I'm planning to take out of town follows the border. In fact, it looks like the road IS the border for a ways!

I want to get to the border at the nearby town of Dajabon, in the neighboring province. However, it's so near, that I may stay here in Monte Cristi longer.

In that border town, the Dominican side looks compact and orderly, the Haitian side looks more expansive and disorderly.

Haiti looks poorer (duh), more risky, but having some interesting culture and geography.

Sitting in a bar, loud music blaring, people drinking and dancing!


Thoughts in Republica Dominicana

Submitted by eagle on Fri, 11/08/2019 - 15:29

Probably spend a few days, maybe even a few weeks, in the Monte Cristi area. Recharging, financially, logistically, psychologically, etc.

It feels funny to return to spending a few hours in a row on a computer, online, in shade. Seems like lately I've spent hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, largely outdoors!

Things change.

I like intellectual challenges, athletic challenges, etc. Even learning to appreciate social, emotional challenges!

Each day brings with it different opportunities.

Go out there, grab yours!


Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles: Another Session!

Submitted by eagle on Thu, 11/07/2019 - 20:20

Continuing to work on the goggles, I'm figuring out the dimensions, again.

Tough work, to get the sizes right. Still not sure how I'm doing on that front.

It's a pleasure to get some work done!

After a bunch longer on the goggles than I expected, I traced out the lens shape again.

As much as I'm a file hoarder, I note that I don't often return to older files. Still, comforting to have the backups.

This version of the frame is coming out leaner and meaner than the previous one. Still messy, tons of work to do. It's exciting to watch a bunch of lines take shape. Looking forward to assembling more of the frame!

As of now, here are a few snaps of the design process, the rough frame shape (still an early work in progress!), measurements, and more!


Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles!


Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles!


Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles!


Monte Criste, Republica Dominicana!

Submitted by eagle on Thu, 11/07/2019 - 17:16

Megagrammeter (n.): moving one kilogram one kilometer. I rode my 100 kg bike at 10 km/hr, for a thousand megagrammeters per hour. After an hour I rode a gigagrammeter!

Rode to the town of Monte Cristi!

Tons of beautiful desert. Smooth ride. The bike I traded for works way better for me. It's far faster, easier to maintain, more fun, etc.!

Weird desert, with banana trees and rice paddies!

Getting into town, had a rice-based meal. Then quickly found AC & wifi. Now going to work!

Asking people makes things way easier, especially in Latin America. If you're like me, often preferring to figure things out on your own, then it's extra worthwhile to figure out how to ask for help instead of just doing things your own way.

Looks like I now have a very small area in which I want to prepare for Haiti!

Since I still don't have a phone (maybe get a new one here in Monte Cristi), here's a picture from the internet:

Monte Criste, Republica Dominicana

More Riding in Republica Dominicana!

Submitted by eagle on Thu, 11/07/2019 - 17:13

After getting a ride along the unpaved roads, dust blowing through the air as I sat in the back of a pickup, arrived at a colmado with wifi. While doing some work here, I see a chicken running around the store. The chicken just jumped on a scale, perhaps weighing itself for sale.

You accommodate to systems -- bikes, computer hardware, software, places, people -- as you go.

You learn their ins and outs. You find the hidden advantages, and also the hidden disadvantages. You grow together, like an aging couple.

After a pleasant morning, walked out of town. By the banana trees. By the palm trees.

After deliberating on what to do, I started going towards what I thought was the next town. Still without a phone or map, going by guesswork. Seems generally west.

A pickup truck pulled up. Driver asked where I was going. I answered. Driver offered me a ride. I accepted. We loaded the bike and bags into the back of the pickup, where I climbed up.

We drove through the dusty hills. Stopped a few times, the driver chatting with locals. Along the way, a woman riding in the pickup truck got out and thanked the driver.

Later, the driver invited me to sit up front. We chatted. The driver asked for gas money. I gave him some, then spotted a rare place advertising free wifi, and asked to get out there. The driver pointed out a road that would take me to my next destinations.

The wifi worked, even when the electricity went out in the place. I got some work done, bought some snacks, and left.

Rode on. Sweet ride!

Now in a much drier place. Cacti and spikey plants around. More goats.

Now approaching the Haitian border. I feel like there are some Haitian/Martian wordplay jokes in the works.

I'm somewhat concerned (again) about getting too far too fast. I'm not ready yet for Haiti, in the sense that I want to do more work, sightseeing, riding, etc., in Republica Dominicana before getting into Haiti. Considering detouring to see more of RD before Haiti, but from what I've seen of the map so far, I doon't think there's much more in this area of RD that I want to see.

Maybe I'll just stick around one or two towns, e.g. Monte Cristi, for a while, before getting to Haiti. Seems like often when I plan to stick around a place for a while, I quickly get bored or for other reasons decide to leave early anyways. Also the opposite happens, that I decide to go quickly through an area but like it and stick around for a while.

Bike's going waaaay better. Now on 700 cc wheels, larger yet thinner than the 26" wheels of a mountain bike like the one I was using. Much faster, seems more resistant to punctures. I'm somewhat concerned here with all the thorny plants. We'll see.

Getting accustomed to my cargo bags, I've acquired a few new ones and gotten rid of some old ones. Still figuring things out here.

Trying a local insect repellent, with citronella and some other plant-based ingredients. These things usually seem to me quite ineffective compared with the corporate chemical ones. This one seems to be working quite well, however. Bought it as it looked different than other ones I've tried, considerably less expensive than the conventional ones, and it contains some ingredients I've wanted to test.

I feel like many areas of improvement, personal or professional or otherwise, require testing, comparisons. It's sort of like science, try a few experiments, see what works versus what doesn't.

I feel that much of travel is about experiencing different emotions. When you see, hear, smell, etc., different sensations than the ones available in other places you've been, it elicits different emotions. Also, different thoughts, behaviors, etc.

By the way, each place has its own insects or other nuisances, weather problems, etc., in addition to its own foods, music, etc. There are positive and negative pressures anywhere. Some people seem to think that if only they went elsewhere, they'd get rid of their problems, or find some reward. True, you may get rid of some problems, or find some reward, but you'll also find other problems, and get rid of some other reward. It's a tradeoff, about finding the balance of rewards and problems that fit your tastes.

For me, in addition to my personal preferences (e.g. warmer climates, spicy foods, etc.), I like variety. I like to spend a while in small towns or countryside, then a while in big cities. A while in desert, then a while at the beach.

Ran into a man I met a while back. We had talked briefly at the beach, he mentioned residing in this area. As I was riding, he called out to me. There he was, a his house!

Now doing some more maintenance, then work on my goggles project!

Better to have too much to do than not enough, in my opinion!

By the way, motorcycle noises annoy me. I like the exercise etc. of pedal bikes. Maybe one day go electric. Don't think I want a gas bike.

By the way, I think that often events (as with other things) follow a curve, like a wave. You get to peaks and troughs, with interesting rides from one to the next.


More work on Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles!

Submitted by eagle on Tue, 11/05/2019 - 14:08

So, it looks like the drafts I made previously won't open on this replacement laptop, which can only run an older version of the software. As a result, I think I'm going to restart from scratch. Still, the first draft gave me some ideas, some practice, etc.!

Working in a colmado/comedor/etc. with some cool bachata music playing.

Here's a new test draft for the goggles!

Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles!

This doesn't represent the actual model I'm aiming for. I'm just testing out the different software version to ensure that it still seems feasible, which it does!


New Places!

Submitted by eagle on Mon, 11/04/2019 - 16:51

Wound up spending a couple of nights at this beautiful spot, between the mountains and the sea.

Next, going to find my way, looking for a town or village!

As I rode out of town, a Haitian boy came up on a bike, asking me if I wanted to trade bikes. I was skeptical, but considered it. Both of our bikes had problems. After we examined the bikes, some local boys, a mechanic, and I had the bikes in better condition, and we traded!

Now, figuring out how to get back on track!

By riding, asking, etc., found my way back to the road. Now on wifi for the first time in a while, can look at a map again!

It's different to navigate without a phone or map. Old-fashioned adventure!


Getting back into the action!

Submitted by eagle on Mon, 11/04/2019 - 16:47

In Republica Dominica, things often happen (or fail to happen) through talking with people, as in Cuba.

In Cabarete, a town popular with tourists from the US, Germany, and other places (they had German restaurants, a German butcher, etc., unlike the rest of Republica Dominicana), went to the beach. Then, did some shopping for the first time in a while. Went to the bank.

Satisfied, riding out of town. On the way out, someone from CESTUR (the tourism police) stopped by. Mentioned my having been in the previous town with the phone theft. Asked about my route. Then, I continued.

On the way back westward, ran into the man who had hosted me the last night in the previous town, and the woman who had come by most often to visit me on the beach. With the latter, chatted a while. My bike still had a flat rear, which kept opening through the patch. We attempted to repair it, but the hole was too near the valve. Instead, bought a new tube, which her partner installed for me.

Soon will be back in terra incognita. Northwestern Republica Dominicana. Then, I'll be in a funny situation: sort of having to go to Haiti, despite the problems there. I'm running out of available time on my visa (if the bureaucrat I talked to was right; otherwise I'm already illegal), and cash. Western RD is sparsely populated. I may get to the border without a reasonable way to get to an airport or other exit from the country, yet having to leave the country. I do want to go to Haiti, but it's funny to feel forced to go. If it seems seriously dangerous, I'd probably find some alternative route.

Travel throws some strange stuff at you. I guess you have to adapt!

Finally, rode out!

Deciding to go around Puerto Plata, a city that I already know, I went to the area where my chosen route departs from the main highway. Without a phone, it's hard to find places. I don't have paper maps, since I've been using my phone so consistently. Now I'm just turning to screenshots I've taken before leaving town.

Did some equipment maintenance. I've lately learned a few new skills, including some zipper repair!

Now getting ready to go into town, if I'm on the right road and can find town!

More gorgeous countryside here, 360 degree views of ocean and mountain, pasture for cattle, etc. I'd take pictures if I had a phone!

It's important to deal with what you do have. In travels on the road or in general, one doesn't have an ideal set of equipment or conditions. Better just to get on!

Next, back to the road!