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.

 

Nagua!

Submitted by eagle on Sat, 09/07/2019 - 15:55

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:

The Road in Northern Republica Dominicana

Eagle Gamma @ Republica Dominicana

Galeras!

Submitted by eagle on Tue, 09/03/2019 - 12:27

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!

 

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