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!


Get Set!

Submitted by eagle on Sun, 08/11/2019 - 21:17

A trend/pattern that seems to emerge is that I'm arriving in a Caribbean island country, spending the first few weeks in Airbnbs around the capital, then camping out as I make my way throughout the surrounding countryside and towns. Seems to work!

Getting ready to ride around Republica Dominicana!

Probably going to be hot and humid. Maybe some t-storms, maybe some light rain. Regardless of the weather, I plan to make some measurable headway this week.

Not sure that I'll make it all the way to the eastern coast this week. That's probably farther than I'll want to go. I'm figuring on probably only staying a day or two in each of the towns from here to the coast. However, these things are hard to predict. Sometimes I find a beach or other attraction. Then, it's hard to resist!

I want to get back to the beach, the road, the open air. I'd like to take with me the warm showers, cool rooms.

I'm happy to leave some of the noises. The population in Santo Domingo seems quite dense.

We'll see what's ahead!


Republica Dominicana Travels

Submitted by eagle on Sat, 08/10/2019 - 13:33

Satellite maps make planning look cool!

Hispaniola: Travel Planning Map!

Buses look fairly affordable in Republica Dominicana. I think something like three cents per kilometer, a few times higher than in Cuba, from a quick glance the other day. I plan to bike it, but comforting to know that it's available.

A common feature that I like, which I've seen in most or all of the places I've stayed so far in RD, is a large ceiling fan with a five-level knob. I've always turned it to five.

I'm learning my way around RD geography.

I arrived in Republica Dominicana after having intentionally only done limited research. I sometimes like to do heavier research, to understand a place before arriving. Other times, like here, I like to experience it for myself first, to form my own opinions before reading.

So far, RD matches up to what I expected. Better in some ways, worse in others.


Submitted by eagle on Fri, 08/09/2019 - 11:32

Wrapping up another long week in Santo Domingo, Republica Dominicana. At least I now feel that I'm gaining an understanding for the culture here. Also, perhaps not coincidentally, getting ready to leave. I feel that one often understands a place or language or book or culture just as one is getting ready to leave it. I think this indicates that the two are connected, understanding something and getting ready to leave it.

Next I plan this afternoon to walk over the bridge, to East Santo Domingo. Still part of the same metropolitan area, but it looks different enough, far enough, detached enough to form its own entity, at least as a political entity. Also, from there I can ride out into the rest of the Dominican Republic, so psychologically it's a larger distance, because this separates my "arrival in the country" period from my " riding around the country" period.

I'm looking forward to getting out into the countryside, for the quiet, the scenery, the people. Of course, once I get there I'll probably long for the city, the amenities, etc.

I guess that's the way things go. The grass is always greener. You often want what you don't have.

Luckily, I also like what I do have. I am happy to be in the city now, in a tall building overlooking a cityscape. I am happy to write.

Santo Domingo is a tough city. The crime, dogs, pollution, noise, congestion, heat, humidity, etc., combine to make it somewhat unpleasant to go out. Still, it does have its positive side. There's tasty and affordable food, a few buildings with attractive architecture, and more.

Santo Domingo fits among the places I've been where I find the least in common with the local people. At least it gives me a chance to see things differently.

I appreciate the more quiet, thoughtful, and the more positive, upbeat, festive places I've been.

So far, Republica Dominicana seems like a "no" place, like Cuba, rather than a "yes" place, like Puerto Rico. Not just in terms of my response to it, but in terms of the basic approach of people. In Cuba and Republica Dominicana, I feel like people are hasty to say that things cannot be done, whereas in Puerto Rico I feel like people are hasty to do things.

Parts of Santo Domingo are developing. The inner core of the city is surrounded by at least one layer of rough neighborhoods. Around that, there are numerous (gated) areas with fancier buildings, some under development. The relatively richer people reside here, driving through or around the rougher areas.

I find much of the development unattractive. Identical boring rectangular condos, shopping malls, etc. I guess that compared to the slums these places are a sizable improvement, but they seem to me to lack the appeal of fancier neighborhoods in some other countries.

This produces some stark contrasts, as in many other places. You can often see shiny SUVs among the street dogs.

The other day I came across a series of ad signs. One was a public service announcement, to the effect of "Remember when you didn't have emergency services?" Right next to it, an ad for a double bacon cheeseburger.

Anyways, looking forward to going ahead!