Here is the latest travel map:
I think that in Republica Dominicana, and other developing countries, it makes far more sense to buy food at local restaurants than at supermarkets. You seem to get around the same amount of food, but already prepared, often tastier, and better environments.
I'm now in Nagua, deciding where to go next. My two main options are to continue west along the coast, or to go back inland to the mountains. I want to see the coast more, but I'm not sure yet that I'm ready for it. I'm considering spending another while in the interior, before heading back to the coast. As of now, around fifty-fifty, leaning somewhat towards the inland detour.
Either route looks ok. If I do the inland detour, I can probably see both routes, which argues in favor of doing the inland detour.
Actually, I don't see a road that leads back to this part of the coast, so doing the inland route may imply leaving behind a section of the coast. In that case, I think I'd rather just stay along the coast. Much easier when I'm not looking for a challenging ride, plus beaches!
The inland route doesn't look too appealing to me, now that I'm seeing it on the map in more detail.
The coastal route does look appealing.
It stays so consistently hot and humid here that, for the first time in a while I've been thinking about colder, more northern places.
It's around 75-100 km from here to where the inland/coastal routes meet up.
Looks like I'm finally getting into the Cibao region of Republica Dominicana. This covers the northern part of the island.
There's a city in the inland route which produces a lot of cacao. Now that is interesting.
As an alternative, I can do a lengthier ride through the interior, either now or later. I've been considering doing quick detours into the mountains.
By the way, a funny (to me, anyways) phenomenon in RD. Tons of places, even small colmados (general stores), cafeterias, etc., often have delivery. They use motorcycles with baskets or crates attached.
The beach area looks extremely nice.
I'm now thinking of maybe doing the coast first, then head inland for a lengthier tour later.
I don't see how I'm going to get much work done in any case. Seems like Republica Dominicana is set up for farming or vacations, not for doing modern work.
There's tons of nice scenery in Republica Dominicana. Also sizable noise. Seems like a convenient trade-off for farming, tourism, etc., so that makes sense!
I now want to do both the coastal and inland routes. However, in this case it appears that it may be easier to do so by going the coastal route first.
At any rate, I do later plan to head inland to see Santiago de los Caballeros, a larger city. Maybe I'll combine the inner stuff over here to the east with that venture later, doing the coastal route first.
In any case, I plan to spend the next few weeks or so seeing northern RD, then head over into Haiti.
One route I can see doing goes along the coast first, but only a short while, then e.g. at Gaspar Hernandez heading inland, going back east, then returning again west. Maybe too complicated and long.
Actually, I don’t see a route back to the part of the coast that I want to see next, if I go inland. So, that would argue fairly decisively for doing the coast next, which I kind of like. Then, if I feel like it, I can come back later for the inland stuff.
I think that these planning sessions are important. They reveal a ton about what you can or want to do, and also you learn about the geography and culture along the way (e.g. looking up places, routes).
I'm now planning to take the coastal route next!
Then, e.g. when I get to Santiago de los Caballeros, I can also go to San Francisco de Macoris.
Some photos from the last couple of weeks:
Yesterday after working, I went for a brief walk. Found a store, asked if they sold food. No, more like rum and cigars, said the somewhat surly woman as she cleaned the place. I noticed they had some snacks, and bought two large cartons of orange juice, and a bag of potato chips for breakfast.
As I was getting set to leave, I walked towards a waste bin. The counter woman was now standing somewhat in that direction. She said, "se murio" (he died), pointing to a person lying on the ground. The person did seem motionless, may actually have died.
At a different store, I picked up some more snacks for the road. Rode over the significant hills surrounding the town of Samana. Went by some fish places. I wasn't hungry and they were noisy but scenic places, so I kept riding.
Later in the day, I did stop at a smaller, quieter fish place.
Along the way, I had a huge (2.6 liter) bottle of soda. Overall I drank something like 5 L (over a gallon) of liquid during the day.
The juice and soda did not seem to upset my stomach, so for the first time in a while I kept down a large amount of fluid, and felt fine instead of thirsty.
Makes me wonder whether it was the caffeine, or maybe the phosphoric or (even less likely) a flavoring in the cola that made me feel sick?
Arrived early at the next town, Galeras. This town appears to have no road leading around anywhere other than the one back to Samana, so it looks like I'll be returning along the same route. I vaguely knew that beforehand, but didn't look carefully at the map before selecting this route.
Looking for a place to camp last night, found some beautiful but difficult terrain. Left that immediate area, found a place near the edge of town. Some people stopped, we talked. "It's dangerous," one of them said. "Yes," I answered. Later, the person reiterated that it's dangerous. "Yes," I answered again.
Now watching a sunrise over the sea!
Now in Samana!
Dominican Republic feels like Mad Max.
Tons of dirty motorcycles, people walking around with machetes and other implements, etc.
Rode over a mountain. Largely downhill. Gorgeous!!!
Dominican Republic in summer. So hot. Even at seven AM in a ton of shade, lying down, I can hardly bear it. Riding uphill, fully loaded, midday without clouds, extremely hard!
The ocean is so warm, it's like getting into a bath.
After a few difficult rides, where I'd planned considerably, then had easier rides than expected, yesterday I had a short (21 km) ride on straight ground. Easy!
Instead, it wound up far more difficult than expected.
The road had numerous rocks, obstacles.
The sun shone brightly.
I made slow headway. Then, while riding slightly up, I pressed down hard on the pedal, and snap! The derailleur fell off. Already jerryrigged, I jerryrigged it even further, with significant difficulty. Finally I got the bike running, but by then the sun felt too hot for me to ride in. So, I took an extended pause in the shade.
Even in the shade, the air felt hot, so I cooled my feet in some water on the ground.
As the sun descended, I made my way to the edge of the next town. Along the road, piles of garbage burned, cows and birds grazed. Some people went by on motorcycle and foot, often carrying machetes. Barbed wire lined the road.
I was thirsty the night before setting out. By now I feel extremely thirsty. I have had numerous fantasies of the different drinks that I want to consume.
Now around Sanchez, Rrepublica Dominicana, I am getting set for the Samana peninsula!
It's often been somewhat too hot in the day, and somewhat too cold for comfort at night. Recently, it's been way too hot during the way, and somewhat too hot at night.
In town, a fishing village, had breakfast. Then, drank like three liters of liquids including cola.
Felt sick, threw up.
Now resting, improving!
The ride yesterday went way smoother than expected!
Instead of a tough slog, it was kind of fun!
Camped out by the side of the road.
Ate queso ruffles and nachos for breakfast, with tomatoes and chiles.
Sunrise over the mountains!
Woke up, rode.
Through some pleasant small towns.
Now in a larger village. Having coffee in a hotel.
Recharging. Filling up batteries (laptop, phone, spare x 2).
Supposed to hit 36 degrees C or so today, plus humidity!
Also, looks like another large mountain ahead. Around a thousand feet elevation. Hopefully has some more of those delicious fruits!
Thunderstorms predicted. I'm planning to go carefully.
I aim to make it over the mountain this week, while getting some work done. We'll see how that pans out.
The Dominican people seem hospitable and commercial. By contrast, many Americans seem commercial but not as hospitable. In the South, hospitable.
It's an agricultural region here. So there are tons of agro shops, not much in the way of modernity.
The map suggests an alternative route that goes around the mountain. Way farther, still has significant climb, but it looks lower elevation.
141 km versus 20 km.
Maybe half the elevation, but hard to say because of the length of the route.
A few more small towns, and one more sizable town on the alternative route.
I'm still kind of leaning towards my straight over the mountain shot, but considering the alternative.
Looks like the alternative route, the one the map suggests, goes around the mountain on a shallower slope, but still over it rather than around it. It adds mucho distance, which I may want for a chance to do more work. However, it may be less interesting.
Each route has one medium town, somewhat likely to have wifi, so I don't think there's much increase in work.
I'm thinking of heading straight over, keep it straightforward. Then, I can still visit some of the other towns on the alternative route, if I do another inland detour further west.
Nagua looks like a coastal place where I can head inland again.
Feeling somewhat stuck. It's such a pain to find wifi, AC, etc., out in the middle of nowhere!
Still, I think it's important to go!
I'm aiming for the mountain!
Many of my favorite foods grow in the tropics. Yesterday, while walking through a mountain, on a rough dirt road, I encountered and ate some avocados, guavas, oranges, and coffee (I think it was coffee, I haven't died yet). Also seeing cacao!
I increasingly like the countryside, and dislike being in congested, noisy, crime-ridden cities.
The people out in the countryside seem friendlier, more honest.
Since the tap water isn't potable here, I've been buying large amounts of packaged drinks. Instead of plain water, I prefer to have some flavor. So, I've been drinking large amounts of soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, juices, beers, etc. These drinks seem popular with the locals, presumably for the same reason. They're quite refreshing, although they contain large amounts of sugar, and often alcohol or caffeine.
I'm becoming more of a morning person. Appreciating as many daylight hours as I can!
I'm now aiming to do the Samana peninsula this upcoming week or so. Then, head along the northern coast for a while. At some point, I probably want to head back inland. Previously I'd thought of just going around the coast, only digging inland for major points like the northern city of Santiago. However, I am liking this inland area so much, I now plan to see as much of the interior as I can. Not just in RD, but going forward, I aim to see far more of the country away from the coast, in addition to the coastline.
This morning, a large troupe of pigs came by my camp spot, eating up whatever they can! They definitely deserve/earn their name, snorting and eating and excreting constantly!
So many noisy motorcycles here (and elsewhere). I'm tempted to start an electric bike company just to reduce the noise somewhat!
Every country seems to have certain patterns, e.g. the country music in Republica Dominicana, the smells of wood smoke, etc., seem understandable from an American country perspective, too.
RD has few American stores, not much American influence. This country shows that even without strict restrictions, as in Cuba, a country in this region can have economic and social patterns more reminiscent of Cuba, i.e. the effects that I observed in Cuba were due to geographic and cultural causes not exclusively related to the communist revolution.
Aiming to go to Haiti after RD. People here have warned me, as people in Canada warned me about the US, people in the US warned me about Mexico, people in some parts of Mexico warned me about other parts of Mexico, etc.
I think it's important to go anyways, unless you have a serious impediment.
With so much sun and rain here, it's often difficult just to be outside.
Napped and slept much of the weekend. I think it (yesterday) was the first time in two weeks, since I started riding in Republica Dominicana, that I didn't have a ride day.
I got tired after the last while. I wanted to take a rest day last week, but was in a busy situation. I think it's important to have some time off.
It felt epic to sleep so much. However, I now feel like working, eating, drinking, riding, again!!!
Thunderstorms predicted, rough roads described, people warned me not to go. Just take the ferry.
Out of sunblock.
Low on cash.
Decided to go anyways!
The mountain proved way more beautiful than expected. I wanted it to keep going longer!
On the way up, ate my first fresh guanabana!!!
Around the top, ran into some cattle!
On the way down, found some avocados!!!
Just making it into the next town, Hato Mayor.
Sat down to write, in a pile of ants. Oops!
Going to aim for some work!
Hard to find a quiet place with decent wifi. Even more so than in developed countries.
Sunblock's hard to find at all, and often expensive. I was just at a pharmacy, prices ranging from $16.40 US to $32+.
The lights went out repeatedly while I was shopping there.
Finally, after hours of walking around the (somewhat attractive cattle and citrus) town, found wifi!
Also managed to exchange my remaining US$20 bill!
Lesson: Go anyways.
After complaining for a while about the lack of road from here to Samana, it turns out there's a ferry I didn't know about! Now, after all that, I may not even want to take the ferry!
The ferry is cheap and runs four times daily, and even carries bikes. However, I'm not sure whether I'm ready yet to get to the peninsula. Instead, I'm considering doing the inland ride. I want to slow down to get more work done (sometimes I feel a rush to leave a place because I'm uncomfortable there, or there's a lack of amenities, when I still have work to do). Also, the mountain doesn't look as tall as I'd thought, and the towns look more numerous and interesting than I thought.
I'm still unsure. It's a difficult decision for me to make. Last night, when I went to the ferry station, I was tempted to board. However, while I occasionally have large pressure to leave (e.g. for visa requirements), I now feel the opposite pressure to slow down, spend more time in the country.
Decided to go inland first. We'll see if I stick to that decision!
Had a sandwich and two sodas for breakfast, for around a dollar.
Went to the town center for wifi, where there's the municipal government building. Noisy, with tons of motorcycles, people yelling, etc. Found a shaded area outside. Sat down in the grass. A woman in a suit walked out. Trained by years in the US, I expected her to ask me to leave. Instead, she asked if I wanted a chair! Dominicans are friendly, if loud.
She even brought me a bottle of water!
A tour bus full of East Asians is parked outside, and the group just left the government building. Not sure what they're doing here. Haven't seen too many Asians around RD. Yesterday I did see what looked like a Chinese guy running a general merchandise store.