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.


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!