Tough Stuff in Republica Dominicana!

Submitted by eagle on Wed, 08/21/2019 - 16:34

Camped out by the sea last night, under a guava tree. Heavy rain overnight. When I woke up, someone was soon there, asking to see identification, saying from the navy, but in plainclothes. I showed ID. The person showed ID indicating navy director of intelligence.

Ate some guavas from the tree, and some mangos I'd been carrying, for breakfast. Yum!

Now planning a somewhat risky ride. It's around 40 km to the next town, the last one before the coastal road ends. I'm concerned about the bike failing, about running out of sunblock or insect repellent or more. Hoping there's wifi there, to do some more work!

More rain this morning. More mangos and guavas this morning.

Some of my favorite things about Republica Dominicana so far include:

Food (rice & beans!)
Wide highway shoulders

Some of my least favorite things about Republica Dominicana so far include:

Crime (attempted robbery!)
Excess heat
Excess humidity
Heavy rain, t-storms
Loud motorcycles

Rode further, now less than 20 km from the next town. Pausing at a gas station with wifi!

Riding in Republica Dominicana - Eagle Gamma



Submitted by eagle on Tue, 08/20/2019 - 20:00

Working in a community technology center. Lightning coming down. Occasional power outages.

The weather forecasts here seem particularly inept. Right now there's a thunderstorm, or as the forecast calls it, mostly sunny.

Swim to the Samana peninsula???

The road definitely seems to stop soon after the next town.

Actually, the places along the longer mountainous route look ok. Maybe just go there. It's not that many km the more direct route, but no road, path, anything.

Towns, farms, history. I think I'll go the mountainous, longer route!


Making it!!!

Submitted by eagle on Tue, 08/20/2019 - 19:14

Whew! Made it!!! :)

After a far more difficult struggle than expected, I made it to the north coast -- exhausted.

The heat and humidity have been immense. There have been nightly thunderstorms. The mosquitoes have been harsh.

I've had some flat tires, and other bicycle problems. I'm down to my last tubes installed in my bike, and two or three patches. I haven't connected to wifi in a while, and am running low on cash.

It feels fun!

The road

To get out there, achieve, accomplish, in spite of the obstacles. Still, it's also quite difficult, and I want to spend the next while working.

I've been eating up a storm. Trying tons of Dominican foods, which I like.

The comedors are among my favorite types of eatery. Small informal restaurants, they often have a choice of white rice, rice & beans, various stews, along with salad and drinks. Usually all of that for a small price, around 100-150 pesos (two or three dollars US).

I notice that often stews have lemon flavors.

Just last night made it into the mango-growing part of Republica Dominicana! I've been eating numerous fresh mangos.

The people out here away from the busy city centers are nicer, and I feel like I can finally relax more about crime.

Now at the coast, I'm writing while looking out at the sea!

Another thunderstorm is approaching. I've ducked out of the intense sun.

So many thoughts have built up. It's been something like a week since I've had the chance to write, or do much other than survive the ride. Feels more like a year!

From what I've seen of the map, after here (Miches) and the next town west, I think there's no direct road to the nearby Samana peninsula which I want to make my next destination. Instead, it looks like there's a long, difficult mountain road, or an untamed forest. I'm leaning more towards the mountainous route, for the occasional towns and the roads, but I'm somewhat tempted by an outdoors adventure.

As of now, I've had my fill for a while of the riding.

Here's how my feelings went on riding out of the capital:
Day 1: Yay! Riding again. This feels epic!
Day 2: So happy to have got back to riding again.
Day 3: I still have at least another day or more of riding in me, before taking a break.
Day 4: I'm tired. Forgot how sore I can get!
Day 5: Can't wait for a break!
Day 6: This is so hard! Why am I doing this again?
Day 7: Hey, I'm starting to recover again, and I didn't even take a day off!
Day 8: OK, I'm exhausted, I have other important things to do, I sure hope there's wifi in one of these places.

Bike's (La Poderosa) hardly holding together.

The rear derailleur is still missing the screw to hold it onto the frame. The rear derailleur is therefore only holding on by the wheel to which it's attached, which means that any occasion when I change the tire, the derailleur pops off too. The rear wheel's been rubbing against the frame, slowing me down and making annoying sounds.

A few other minor issues, but overall she's holding up like a stud. It's now around 300 km since the capital, in one week of riding. I guess I've been averaging around 30-40 km per day.

The terrain has been hillier than I thought. The map didn't show much elevation, as I recall, but it's been quite a lot of up and downhill. Without functioning gears, it's been hard to climb the hills in high gear.

I've had a chance to reflect while riding for the last week. Overall, I'm very happy to be riding through the Caribbean. I can't wait to get to  the next islands, and back to the continents, while wanting to take it slow and appreciate the beauty of this area.

I feel stronger, as a person, for taking on challenges such as independent travel. It's extremely hard, for me, to travel by bicycle, work, etc., but I feel like that improves my learning.

I encourage you to take on any type of goal, big or small, that you've been wanting to do for a while. Once you get going, the momentum (and adrenaline and caffeine!) can carry you a while!

Now feel like I'm finishing one section up, and starting a new section of travel!

Each area of each country has its uniqueness. RD may have less variety than a larger country, but still considerable.


Dominican Challenges

Submitted by eagle on Fri, 08/16/2019 - 19:52

In Cuba, there were a mix of small electric and gas motorcycles. Here in Republica Dominicana, I don't see those electric ones, only the small gas motorcycles. Gas here costs I think far more than in the US, and people make far less money, so it makes sense to see so many small engines.

Leaving the city yesterday, as soon as I put the chain back on my bike and tried spinning the wheels, the chain fell off again. The mechanic had poorly jerry-rigged the replacement wheel, which also has at least one broken spoke.

I fixed it myself, far better than the mechanic had, so that now the bike rolls smoothly!

Rode to the next town, Boca Chica, without putting a foot down!

Walked around, had some lunch (hamburger, salchipapas, sodas). Met some locals.

Kept walking. Was going to ride further, since the town seemed small. However, noticed a second, separate part of town. Walked down to the sea. A beautiful beach!

Kept walking along the beach. Ate a johnnycake!

Kept walking along the beach. After a while, the beach and weather seemed so nice, decided to spend the remainder of the evening there.

At night, checked out some hotels. Most seemed closed. Some had Russian lettering, indicating tourists from there. Prices in general were in US$, and tons of gift shops, indicating a touristy place. I'd seen numerous international tourists at the beach during the day, reminding me of elsewhere. This was the first part of Republica Dominicana where I felt that taking out my wallet or phone wouldn't attract unwanted attention.

Found another hotel, the front desk attendant showed me some rooms, but they were expensive, geared towards the tourists. I kept walking, to the edge of town. Found a quiet place. Camped! First time in RD. Relatively quiet spot, birds & lizards.

Today I plan to ride further along the coast. We'll see how far I get. Probably at least to the next city.

Already, on my first day out of the capital, I felt better. More spacious, kinder people, more beautiful!

So far, the Dominican highways are safe and fun and beautiful to ride!

Wide shoulders, smooth pavement, scenic ocean views. Few other vehicles nearby, other than the occasional motorcycle on the shoulder.

A wifi hostpost! From the Dominican government. Oh wait, it doesn't work.

Probably three days to the east coast. Averaging around 30 km/day. Maybe longer or shorter, depending on attractions.

Went shopping at a "hipermercado" (hypermarket), a modern supermarket.

Bought some inexpensive vegetables and canned foods. They have a product here which I haven't seen in other countries, canned beans with coconut milk. Yum!

I've encountered numerous rude people in Republica Dominicana, including in the smaller towns and cities. Doesn't seem like a refined society.

Sunblock doesn't seem that widely available, and it seems expensive. Dominicans don't wear much sunblock, like Cubans, which may explain some of the common skin disorders here.

Thinking of riding on tonight. There's one more sizable town on the way to the coast. After that, a quieter route.

Woke up, went riding!

Had a fairly solid ride, in spite of heat & humidity, thirst, breaking bike.

Stopped repeatedly to pick up drinks.

Just as I made it into the next town, my destination for the day, got a flat!

Struggled to fix the flat for a while. Turned out to have a sizable plant spike making a few holes.

Patches didn't hold at first. Also, looks like a screw has fallen out from the rear derailleur (which normally switches gears, although on this bike a cable is broken, so its job is just to hold the chain in place).

After some jerryrigigng, I think it may hold in place, at least for a short while.

During my ride, encountered a group of road riders. As we rode, one of them asked about my route. I would have been surprised years ago if you had told me that one day I'd say in Spanish that I'm riding to Haiti!

Next let's see if I can find sunblock, wifi, etc.!

After some difficulties, arriving in Higuey. Having a large lunch including three sodas for four dollars US.

Over two hours to find working wifi, still not sure. Running down battery, sunblock.

Republica Dominicana strikes me as a version of a dystopian society. After the Spaniards found the American mainland, they largely deserted the island. This left Hispaniola for pirates, slaves, colonizers to populate. Their descendants now ride around on loud motorcycles, with black smoke filling the cities.

Tons of heat, humidity, headwinds, etc., making it hard to ride!


Eagle Gamma - riding - Republica Dominicana

Preparation Thoughts

Submitted by eagle on Mon, 08/12/2019 - 14:27

It's funny sitting here in a relatively calm, quiet hotel room, thinking about the craziness that's already ensued, and that probably will again soon!

I'm calm, yet excited to go!

I hope the people out of the capital are more friendly.

I am just about ready to leave. I like the comfort of being still, yet I also like the action. I think it's important to go before you feel "fully" ready, so that you do go.

Riding is freedom. Is writing also a kind of freedom?

Out on the road, choosing your directions, pushing yourself forward and wherever you go. The wind in your face, the sun on your body.

Getting dirty is part of the fun!

Who knows what you'll find? Each ride is a surprise.

Bike touring is exercise, a game, travel, philosophy!

My route goes along the southern coast of Republica Dominicana. I like that I get to spend a while by the sea in a tropical country!

There are tradeoffs, of course. In my opinion, tropical countries often have tastier food, but less attractive people, warmer but excessively humid weather, less economic development (which I often consider a benefit), more dangerous diseases, and a more casual attitude. Overall, I like being in the tropics!

The southern coast looks urbanized for dozens of kilometers (probably farther than I'll get today). After that, there's a stretch with a couple of medium cities spaced farther apart. Then, there's a more isolated stretch, before hitting the east coast. At that isolated part, I'm not sure yet whether I'll head south towards the isolation, or north towards an inland city. Now thinking more of the quiet, but far from sure.

I like to plan ahead, and also make adjustments along the way. I probably lean considerably more towards planning than most people. That's not to say preparing -- there's a difference between planning and preparing! I'm more of a dreamer.

Making decisions has often confused me. Hence Worlds O Wisdom (to assist in making decisions). I've often asked how to make decisions. I guess there are countless different ways to make decisions. Weighing choices, instinct, intuition, whim. How do you make decisions?


Submitted by eagle on Mon, 08/12/2019 - 10:47

After writing and riding Astrotripping, I felt exhausted. Psychologically, physiologically, financially. I just wanted to rest. So I did. For a long while.

Map of Eagle Gamma's Travels - August 12, 2019

First, I finished the ride. After Texas, I rode through the Southeast. Partway through, I detoured up to Chicago, then back down to Florida. Then, I took a pause in Miami. The following spring, I rode up the east coast of the USA. From New York on up, and then back down to Miami, I traveled with Avril.

On my second stay in Miami, I kept deliberating when to leave, but liking staying too much. I became a beach bum, but also working on projects, for a couple of years. Often, I felt like I would just settle there. However, I gradually grew hungrier for action, and sated with Miami.

So, when another spring rolled around, I set off for adventure! Walking to the port, I got on a ferry to Bimini, Bahamas. That's where this story takes off!


Get Set!

Submitted by eagle on Sun, 08/11/2019 - 21:17

A trend/pattern that seems to emerge is that I'm arriving in a Caribbean island country, spending the first few weeks in Airbnbs around the capital, then camping out as I make my way throughout the surrounding countryside and towns. Seems to work!

Getting ready to ride around Republica Dominicana!

Probably going to be hot and humid. Maybe some t-storms, maybe some light rain. Regardless of the weather, I plan to make some measurable headway this week.

Not sure that I'll make it all the way to the eastern coast this week. That's probably farther than I'll want to go. I'm figuring on probably only staying a day or two in each of the towns from here to the coast. However, these things are hard to predict. Sometimes I find a beach or other attraction. Then, it's hard to resist!

I want to get back to the beach, the road, the open air. I'd like to take with me the warm showers, cool rooms.

I'm happy to leave some of the noises. The population in Santo Domingo seems quite dense.

We'll see what's ahead!