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.