Made it to Sanchez, Republica Dominicana!

Submitted by eagle on Fri, 08/30/2019 - 15:01

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!


Yet More RD Riding!

Submitted by eagle on Wed, 08/28/2019 - 12:54

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!


Routes in RD!

Submitted by eagle on Tue, 08/27/2019 - 16:54

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!


More RD Riding!

Submitted by eagle on Mon, 08/26/2019 - 19:20

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!!!


The Road to Hato Mayor

Submitted by eagle on Fri, 08/23/2019 - 16:51

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.


More in Republica Dominicana

Submitted by eagle on Thu, 08/22/2019 - 15:45

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.


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.