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!

 

Gone Fishin'!

Submitted by eagle on Mon, 11/04/2019 - 16:39

A day of frustrations, yet of things kind of sort of working out. A purge day.

Woke up, checked the bike. Nope, previous patching didn't hold. Spent a frustrating morning working with remaining bits of patch to get something rolling. Finally, concerned about getting stuck without a working bike at all (the screw on the front wheel was losing its shape, becoming stuck on the bike with a broken tube), managed to get an old tube to hold. No air though, so I walked with the bike on a flat front tire.

After so much time on the bike, I no longer had the morning before the hot sun. So, walking in the open sun, burning hot, taking way longer than expected. Did find a small coconut with some water, and a guava. Not much, but so thirsty and hungry that it felt satisfying. Refreshed, I carried on.

Made it to the highway. Didn't see any shops, just some highway signs. Turned left, kept walking.

After a while, got to town. Stopped in at a colmado (corner store). No bike stuff, as these stores sometimes do have, but at least picked up some snacks and drinks. Walked down the side street. A ghetto. No bike parts, but picked up a few more snacks and drinks.

Went back to the highway. After going over a bridge, found a bike repair stand. Basically, a guy sitting outside with a few bike parts. Yeah! But, he didn't have parts for my bike. Worse, he pointed out that my tire (not just the tube) was "fea" (ugly, i.e. broken).

The bike mechanic rode his motorcycle into town to pick up another tire. I waited. After a while, he returned, but it didn't look like he had a tire. Nope.

Running out of possibilities, I suggested that he take the tire off a bike locked up against the fence. "That's my bike," he explained. "How about if you take that off now, then get another tire later?" I asked. He ok'ed the idea, taking off not just the tire, but the whole wheel.

After that, he charged me a fair bit, not leaving much cash for food through the weekend. At least I had a working bike!

Kept going. Got to a comedor, an eatery. Had a late lunch, but felt sick. Threw up. Then some more. An ambulance arrived. They ushered me in, contrary to my desires. I'd been through this before, knew it was just some type of food poisoning that would pass after vomiting.

They checked my blood pressure, asked me some questions. As they were getting ready to prick my finger, I insisted that I just wanted to go. "No tengo derechos?" I asked. (Don't I have rights?) They finally let me sign a form and go. On the way out, the national police had arrived, and were speaking with the paramedics. I picked up my stuff and left.

Found a shady area, it's still extremely hot. Threw up some more. Now writing this, still haven't found wifi. Some annoying dogs are barking. Getting late.

Maybe it was some of the tomato? I ate and drank too many of my culprits to be sure.

Some tomato came up, along with a large amount of liquid.

Maybe unwashed tomato, maybe dairy, maybe cola, maybe fruit, maybe prepared food, maybe something else.

Last night this replacement computer also failed to load. After rebooting, it does work again.

Now in this small corridor. Too hot to ride much. Not too much to do here. Maybe spend a while at the beach. Then a day or two in the next settlement?

Still extremely thirsty!

After a while in the mountains, made it back to the coast!

Went into town to fix my flat tube. Wound up buying an entire wheel, including the rim and tire!

Went down to the beach. Beautiful scenery. Decided to spend the night.

The next day, Sunday, I still felt tired. Decided to spend another day at the beach.

Each day, woke up feeling tired, having sore legs. Kept extending my beach stay.

After a few days, some locals came by. The fishing community took care of me.

They brought me some food and water and other items.

Also, they built a beach shack for me!

Afterwards, somebody stole my phone.

After a week at the beach, some concerned locals came by. I was getting ready to leave anyways. I spent one night at the house of a local couple. Learned to make locrio, a Caribbean dish.

The next day, Monday, we did some repairs of my equipment together. Then, I rode off!

Travel is unpredictable. You have to adapt a ton more. Also, you're more vulnerable, yet more likely to receive assistance.

I didn't expect to stay so long in the area. Yet, I had a chance to try some foods I'd wanted to (e.g. castaño, a fruit that tastes like potato).

Also, I met some interesting people, and had an opportunity to see a different way of doing things.

Overall, I'm thankful for having spent the week at the beach!

Next, some more riding, getting back into the swing of things as far as that plus working, phone, bank, etc.!

A day without a phone shows some signs of addiction withdrawal. Also, some Dominicans (as Americans, etc. do) seem to grab for phones like addicts. At least the withdrawal is somewhat short.

[Editing this, I'm now going through another cycle of comparable problems/opportunities. Seems like you have to deal with certain of these challenges for this type of travel, much of it acquiring things like food, water, wifi, etc. Tons of cool events along the way!]

Keep Going!

Submitted by eagle on Mon, 11/04/2019 - 15:43

After the first sip of cola made me feel somewhat sick, I'm thinking that cola may be a big culprit in my ill feelings. I've been drinking more cola in the Caribbean than I often do, as it's refreshing with the cool temperature, carbonation, large amounts of water, acidity, caffeine, sugar, etc. Other flavors of soda don't seem to pose the same problem. Not sure if it's the caffeine, or an acid, or flavoring, or what. Coffee and tea don't seem like an issue, except maybe too much coffee. Continuing to consider.

I also think that I'm somewhat more tolerant of lactose than I previously thought. I now think that a small amount of milk, for example, doesn't cause too much distress. Still experimenting.

The Caribbean has delicious breads and rices. Extremely soft!

Trying more products that I haven't seen elsewhere. So far, a margarine that has corn flavoring (way tastier than expected). I also bought, but haven't opened yet, a can of cheese-flavored milk (for cooking, but I plan to drink it plain).

I feel like I'm back on my feet, after my fall. My face is healing, I can hardly tell that I had my face (and arms) full of wounds so recently, except the deepest cut which is still noticeable. This computer is now up and running for work, although it's significantly slower than my other one. When I get a chance, I want to replace the screen in the other laptop, then sell this one. It's a pain carrying two laptops, the other one works better.

I've had a chance to try some more foods and activities that I otherwise wouldn't, so in a way the fall was actually a positive thing. Often turns out that way, that a seeming problem becomes a benefit!

Often, one does best by carrying on anyways, making the best of whatever situations arise!

Next I have a week or so that I want to spend, at least, in this beautiful coastal area. Some gorgeous beaches here. Then, head to the west of the country, and prepare for probable entry into Haiti.

It's now been around half a year since I left Miami to travel the Caribbean. I'm extremely happy to have chosen to go!

Now sitting in a field, as horses go running by. I was going to head out looking for a town today, but instead made it into a spa day. Maintenance, of bike and self.

Works fine for me. I'm going slowly, in a small area which I want to see bit by bit.

Also, these days it's consistently hot. After the first brief cool period in the mornings, it's been so hot until the sun goes down that you can hardly move. May as well stay still.

So far, I've seen a handful of the larger Caribbean countries. After Hispaniola, I plan to make my way down through the smaller, southern islands. Then, not yet sure whether to head into Venezuela, or veer back northward.

I feel much better on the go!

 

Field Notes from Republica Dominicana

Submitted by eagle on Tue, 10/29/2019 - 14:25

[Some blog notes from a couple of weeks ago. Since then I took a while offline. Also, someone stole my phone, so a shortage of photos upcoming. By the way, I just drank a large quantity of cola, without feeling sick, so maybe it's something else!]

After the first sip of cola made me feel somewhat sick, I'm thinking that cola may be a big culprit in my ill feelings. I've been drinking more cola in the Caribbean than I often do, as it's refreshing with the cool temperature, carbonation, large amounts of water, acidity, caffeine, sugar, etc. Other flavors of soda don't seem to pose the same problem. Not sure if it's the caffeine, or an acid, or flavoring, or what. Coffee and tea don't seem like an issue, except maybe too much coffee. Continuing to consider.

I also think that I'm somewhat more tolerant of lactose than I previously thought. I now think that a small amount of milk, for example, doesn't cause too much distress. Still experimenting.

The Caribbean has delicious breads and rices. Extremely soft!

Trying more products that I haven't seen elsewhere. So far, a margarine that has corn flavoring (way tastier than expected). I also bought, but haven't opened yet, a can of cheese-flavored milk (for cooking, but I plan to drink it plain).

I feel like I'm back on my feet, after my fall. My face is healing, I can hardly tell that I had my face (and arms) full of wounds so recently, except the deepest cut which is still noticeable. This computer is now up and running for work, although it's significantly slower than my other one. When I get a chance, I want to replace the screen in the other laptop, then sell this one. It's a pain carrying two laptops, the other one works better.

I've had a chance to try some more foods and activities that I otherwise wouldn't, so in a way the fall was actually a positive thing. Often turns out that way, that a seeming problem becomes a benefit!

Often, one does best by carrying on anyways, making the best of whatever situations arise!

Next I have a week or so that I want to spend, at least, in this beautiful coastal area. Some gorgeous beaches here. Then, head to the west of the country, and prepare for probable entry into Haiti.

It's now been around half a year since I left Miami to travel the Caribbean. I'm extremely happy to have chosen to go!

Now sitting in a field, as horses go running by. I was going to head out looking for a town today, but instead made it into a spa day. Maintenance, of bike and self.

Works fine for me. I'm going slowly, in a small area which I want to see bit by bit.

Also, these days it's consistently hot. After the first brief cool period in the mornings, it's been so hot until the sun goes down that you can hardly move. May as well stay still.

So far, I've seen a handful of the larger Caribbean countries. After Hispaniola, I plan to make my way down through the smaller, southern islands. Then, not yet sure whether to head into Venezuela, or veer back northward.

I feel much better on the go!

 

Longbichito!

Submitted by eagle on Wed, 10/16/2019 - 11:58

Camped out at the beach again last night. Long Bichito. Funny name, like Long Beach the suburb of LA. There's also a Long Beach here. Overnight, someone stole some bags off my bike. Nothing important, just some clothing (mostly dirty laundry). I found some of it dumped not far away. Gone was an old jacket with holes in it. Thanks to them for getting rid of stuff I should have a while ago anyways. They didn't take the bike! Also funny that a few years ago when I camped out in Long Beach, USA, some people stole some stuff from my bike (but not the bike), under comparable conditions!

 

Puerto Plata, Republica Dominicana!

Submitted by eagle on Tue, 10/15/2019 - 21:59

Computer repair store, which I went back to today now that the repairman was in, didn't have the right size screen.

Other computer store, where the previous store said may buy my old laptop, said they now mostly operate as a legal advice service, or some such.

Now working on an older, slower computer, can see how technology advances!

Now planning to head north to Imbert. Looks like another hike over another mountain. Hopefully a shallower slope!

Even though things don't often go as expected, that implies unexpected opportunities as well as unexpected challenges.

Rode in to Puerto Plata!

Puerto Plata, República Dominicana!

Seems like a far more beautiful place, popular, compared to some of the inland stuff.

Sometimes things go slowly. As of now, I have a slow computer, slow wifi, no cash.

Still, at least I'm not going hungry. It seems like it'd be hard to go hungry here in Republica Dominicana. With the fruits and vegetables growing so much, and the kindness of many people, I've often had too much food when I don't have cash!

It's important to take care of business, even if it's difficult!

It's tough to deal with many of the challenges of the road. I would say far harder to deal with that in addition to the regular challenges than the regular challenges alone. Still, it can lead to personal growth. I feel like I have become nearer to my ideal person, although of course far from that. I often get to do things that I once wanted to do. I most often like them even more when I'm doing them than I had anticipated. I recommend taking a chance on your goals!

It hurts to face the losses. Still, there are losses anyways, one may as well face them en route to one's victories.

Over the last several years of traveling, I have had the chance to see dozens or hundreds of cities and towns, in some of my favorite countries. I have also discovered fascinating places, in countries that I did not previously think seriously of visiting. Along the way, I have tried dozens of new activities, hundreds of foods, met so many people, seen so many sights!

There have been tons of hardships. I can hardly keep track of how many times I've asked myself why I'm doing this. Yet, in the long run, I think it pays off. I plan to keep at it!

Travel amplifies the wave of life!

 

Recuperation

Submitted by eagle on Fri, 10/11/2019 - 13:14

While riding down a steep slope, with rocky terrain, hit an especially rocky section. Deciding whether to walk it or ride it, decided to ride it. Even before heading into it, I thought it was a poor idea. Went flying head-first over the handlebar. Landed on my two most valuable possessions, my face and my laptop.

Eagle Gamma after taking a tumble

What a situation.

Not exactly what I want, but I have to deal with it.

I guess you have to adapt, deal with situation.

So, with broken laptop, broken glasses, broken heart, I continue. At least happy to have a way on!

It takes some adjustment, but honestly most of these things that we get used to, we can do without. After a short while, we adapt, forget about the old stuff, and take the new stuff as the new old stuff.

Back in mango-growing area. So far haven't found many of my favorite types of mango in Republica Dominicana. Nor anywhere near as many as in Cuba, Puerto Rico. Still, at least some.

I've also become more of a guava enthusiast in the Caribbean.

Right at the small settlement at the peak, some kind people assisted me in fixing the bike. The ride down the other side went way smoother, the trail was at an easier slope, and had fewer rocks.

Now in Navarrete, another town. This one more boring than some of the previous ones. Still, it does have some socialist graffiti,  which I haven't seen much of around RD.

A split-section decision can wipe out weeks, months, or even years of work. I liken this to Warren Buffet's comments on it taking fifteen years to build a reputation, and five minutes to ruin it.

It's tough to sustain losses, but it's part of the adventure.

It knocks you off track. I think it's important to remain on track. To make the effort to restore, although not exactly, your goals, if you still retain them. Which I largely do.

It can also provide an opportunity to regrow in different directions. I liken this to Germany and Japan's rapid economic development in the latter half of the twentieth century.

The psychological toll can in some ways be harder to bear than the financial and logistical tolls. Like dealing with loss of confidence etc. after suffering from a crime.

It's a complex and messy thing, recovering from a mistake. Bill Gates noted that failure can be a better teacher than success.

For me, I'm trying to become less dependent on expectations. To realize that plans are meant to go wrong (as rules are made to be broken).

Also, I'm trying to become more tolerant of failures, of my own and other people's. We all strive in a difficult environment. It's normal for things to go wrong often.

The wounds heal, the parts get replaced. After a while, the mistakes get replaced, and turn into decent stories. We grow through problems. I still think it's important to take risks, make mistakes, etc. Of course, sometimes they bear costs, negative consequences.

Overall, to get anywhere, you need to take the occasional step back.

Take your lumps. School of hard knocks.

I think that this tumble also brought me back to earth, figuratively. I'm more cognizant now of some of my idealistic notions (positive or negative), as such, rather than confusing them with reality to the same extent that I did before.

Things break. It's a question of when, not if. It makes sense to plan around some destruction here and there.

Same goes for people, or anything. That's part of the process of replacement, improvement.

I may go west next. I was thinking of heading north to the coast. However, given my loss of equipment, it may instead make more sense to spend a longer while in this area before heading to the coast. Also, this way I think there's a shallower gradient over the hills to the coast. Maybe I'll still go north though.

Things operate on a different schedule here. After a number of recent occasions of going to a store, be it a supermarket or computer repair store, and seeing it closed in the middle of the day, I asked someone and realized/remembered that it's common for stores to close down during lunch and reopen later in the day.

Modern technology makes such losses much more bearable. So much stuff is automatically synced to the cloud, that you hardly lose a day's work in switching from one machine to another.

Things seem to be working somewhat faster, now that I'm readjusting. Probably keep going this weekend, even though it's looking like difficult weather.

Rock & Roll!

Riding Down to Jarabacoa, Republica Dominicana!

Submitted by eagle on Sun, 10/06/2019 - 13:32

The climate in this town is different than down at lower altitudes. It gets cold here!

I want fast wifi and a quiet environment. Instead, I get slow wifi and a loud environment!

So much noise in so many places. Often best just to ignore it as one can, and focus on the important stuff.

Constanza is high enough that it feels like a northern town. Northern crops, cool nights, etc. Feels far different than the rest of Republica Dominicana. It's also high enough (and hard enough to get to) that it gets quiet at night, even in town.

Constanza, Republica Dominicana!

After touring the scenic town, started riding downhill. After getting through the first few mountain towns, it started to rain, heavily. Instead of a quick storm, it stayed around throughout the evening.

The weather forecasts have been atrocious. Instead of no precipitation or a low chance of a few drops, it's consistently rained all day.

Next I plan to finish the ride down to a larger settlement. Still quite a ways, hundreds of meters (thousands of feet) of elevation.

Much as I like warm weather, it's nice to have at least an occasional pause for the cool.

Still, looking forward to getting back to the coast!

Rode down the huge hill!

Riding down a mountain in Republica Dominicana!

Made it to the next sizable town, Jarabacoa!

The map said 6 hours, I was told 2 hours, it took 4 hours.

Along the way, found some fruits and vegetables, in this abundant area.

On a steep slope up the mountain, met a man riding on horseback. We exchanged greetings, he joking that we were both on foot (I walked my bike up that part). As I rode away down the hill after we topped it, I noticed that he was typing on or looking at his phone while riding his horse on the mountain!

In spite of distractions, challenges, failures along the way, if one persists at a goal, one can often achieve it!

So far, Jarabacoa seems like one of the more upscale towns I've seen. Public art, fancy cafes, etc.

Dominicans are very sociable people, like Cubans (although perhaps somewhat less so than Cubans). Things generally happen in groups. People get together and talk, just cuz.

I heard there's political turmoil in Haiti now. Not sure yet how serious, etc.

Some nice music here, slow beautiful songs.

Also, some loud noises, music, motorcycles, etc.

Next I plan to ride back to an area I've been through before, as it's on my way down to the coast.

So many beautiful places, can't see them all. I guess we can at least appreciate what we do get to see!

 

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