Life keeps getting in the way of my blog, yet I will eventually finish this tale, if you will just hang in there with me.
Our first “excursion” on this vacation was a trip to Saona Island. It took a few hours to get there from our resort. More than an hour by land, and then the rest by sea, as you would expect because it is, well, an island.
Our bus picked us up a little bleary and unfed (the dining rooms weren’t open yet) early, early in the morning and, lucky us, we were the first stop. Meaning we spent probably 45 minutes just picking up other people at other resorts. Nap time for Alex…
Once everyone was aboard, our driver took us through the beautiful Dominican Republic countryside and educated us a bit on the history and the lives of the people in this country.
The native people are descendants of Spaniards and Africans. The Africans were brought to the D.R. as slaves in the early 1500’s, as the world seemed wont to do during that period. Most people today are poor and live in villages. Their houses are what we in the U.S. might refer to as shacks. The nicer houses are made of concrete, and painted in various colors.
Farming is the main industry in the D.R., the chief crops are sugar cane and tobacco, but also fruits such as papayas, mangos and bananas. Cattle farming is another big industry here. While in the U.S. meat processing takes place beyond consumers’ eyes, not so here. They skin the bodies right on the street, which we witnessed outside some of the shops that we passed by.
Not many cars in the D.R. Most people travel by scooter, if they have a vehicle at all. They carry multiple people on these little scooters and transport EVERYTHING. Our driver told us that he once saw someone toting a washing machine on the back of a scooter, and we did see several people carrying propane tanks on their scooters. I tried to get a picture, but moving targets, you know.
We drove through the main city in the region, Higüey, past the shops and daily commerce. As you can tell by the clouds and the wet roads, it was raining off and on.
Here is a park in Higüey. Note the murals of the Disney characters!
…and the most famous and significant landmark, La Basilica de Higüey, the religious destination of locals and foreignors alike. Except for us. We were on our way to an island, but the driver slowed down so we could snap pictures. Apparently, the interior is also a marvel to behold.
During our ride, we were cruising down the road and heard a loud snap, of sorts. Not such a good noise. We stopped, and the driver got out and examined the bus, then came back to tell us we had ourselves a situation. While it was not a mechanical emergency, we had a choice to make. We could limp to a little store and wait for a new bus, or we could suffer to our destination and a new bus would be there at the end of our trip. We chose to suffer, and suffer we did. No air conditioning. As I mentioned earlier, the humidity in the D.R. is incredible. We put on our big girl panties and endured. We were not so sweet smelling when we finally arrived at our drop off point, but we finally arrived, sweat and all. I don’t remember what this place was called, but it looked a little like a bombed-out war zone.
This was a resort under construction, but the developer was stopped for non-payment of taxes. Not an uncommon sight in the region.
We walked down the path you see in the picture above to the pier to catch our speedy ride to the island.
Back to the deep blue sea. You can see our ride at the end of the pier in the picture above, but here’s what we looked like while we were riding…
This was actually another boat on the same excursion, but as you can’t get a picture quite like this of yourself riding in a speed boat, we’ll just have to assume that we looked way cooler than they did.
See what I mean?
A little scenery as we’re passing by. Look at this blue-green water!
We stopped in the middle of the boat ride to cool off, and search for starfish and such on a little sand bar.
Notice (several pictures above) the bow of the boat. At high speeds like this, the bow is so high you wonder how the captain can even see to drive. Well, turns out he can’t. We were speeding along, and suddenly our captain swerved mightily, we heard a sickening metal kabam, and felt a jolt. We stopped, and here’s why…
We seriously hit this boat. Apparently unattended, maybe a runaway from a not so far away dock, I still hope. We circled the boat a few times, didn’t see any sign of life… gulp… and forged ahead. No damage, or not much to our boat. Yep, we just left this little boat in the middle of the ocean for someone else to find. I’m hoping they at least radioed to someone, anyone, to come fetch this little runaway, but it was out of our hands.
Close call, but here we are, finally, on the island. Yes, I am taking a long time to get to the point, aren’t I? But, you know what they say, it’s all about the journey…
The beautiful Island of Saona. We had a lunch of questionable worth here (not complaining, but hey, it just wasn’t so good), but considering all the excitement so far, and the fact that we had not eaten yet, we had no problem chowing down. The beach here was not any more beautiful than the beach at our resort, and there were more shells and so it was tough on your feet entering the water. Still a beautiful place, though.
Johnny and I took a walk, and it started to pour. It started to pour every time we took a walk on the beach during our trip . Yeah, thank you Alex! Tropical Storm and soon to be Hurricane Alex!
The rain didn’t persist the whole time, so we still had fun.
We were told, rather warned, ahead of time of the commerce on the beach. We were approached right in our lounge chairs by people selling hats, jewelry, cigars.
Palm frond hats?
Time to leave. The trip back was on a sailboat instead of a speedboat. Slower paced, probably safer, unless the weather picked up again…
Great picture of Dan the Man…
The day was now etched into our memories, and onto the bottle of mamajuana herbs below.
Mamajuana, sweet nectar of the Dominican Republic! It’ll put hair on your chest! Hmmm, think I’ll have some.
More to come…