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Thread: Las Galeras & Bayahibe part 1

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    Default Las Galeras & Bayahibe part 1

    After lurking in the forum for months before our trip, I figured I owed this report to everyone here whose comments/postings and wisdom helped us prepare for our first trip to the DR. Sorry this is so long. And probably boring.

    Arrival at Las Americas:
    Nice little group of musicians playing something upbeat and jump into duty free to grab some tequila at 20 USD for Cuervo gold..about US prices. Happy Days.
    Immigration & Customs, no problem, altho they did take our photo (no fingerprints) the camera took about 15 seconds to work so we awkwardly stood there waiting for it to flash after she pressed the button. Declarations area was 2 girls at the end of the corridor, doing their nails who took the paperwork without even looking and waved us on. We had carryon so no luggage pickup. My partner wants to stop for a beer before exiting the airport. I won't bore you with flight details but it had been a long day. I needed to get a sim card so I went to Claro booth at arrivals. I get what I need and my partner finished his beer and came back with a story. He speaks no spanish. He asked "cuanta por una cerveza por favor". She replies 450. He asks 4.50US or RD. She replies 450RD. My partner knows the exchange rate...he questions here again...she angrily replies YES. Well, he is thirsty so he said ok. Partner looks over at the only other guy standing at the bar who rolls his eyes and shakes his head. After she brings the beer (a pequeno btw) she slams it on the table as she repeats; No, No,NO! one slam for each repetition. At this point my partner said in english, I wasn't planning on slamming my beer on the table but thanks very much for showing me. She retired to her perch above him with arms folded and glaring at him the entire time he took to finish the beer. No clue what that was about.

    Avis rental car counter;
    We had already paid for the car and just needed to arrange the insurance..knowing we were told to get full coverage despite having credit card coverage in the US, we asked the price. $60.00USD a day. Really. How about if we limit liability to 100k? Down to $34USD per day. Taxable. It include windshield and tire coverage which was old separately. Fine, we are tired after a long day of travel and agree to that. $750.00 hold on our credit card and off we go to the shuttle bus. Inside the actual Avis rental car office, very pleasant reception..friendly and helpful. We did have to check in again and do the car once over but we are even given a nice map and off we go.

    Driving to Las Galeras:
    I should mention here that I have less than high school spanish and my partner has none. We've always seemed to get by with dozens of driving trips through Mexico and no major incidents. I understand more than I can speak. The car has full tank and we find the highway pretty easily with help from this forum and a youtube video.

    We stopped about halfway down the toll road for a pitstop and refreshment at a Texaco...all good. The road is very good, not much traffic to speak of..we go the speed limit and are passed by everyone except the many motorcycles driving on the shoulder. We see lots of highway helper patrols and one or two AMET. The mountanous part of the road through Los Haitese (sp?) was beautiful..it rained alittle and clouds helped keep us cool driving at the heat of the day.

    We get to Samana cutoff, it is well marked, we make the right turn and head off. There are alot of little villages all along this road to Samana. It is 5ish pm on a Saturday. We wonder...does everyone in this part of the country live on the street? I mean physically ON the street. Trucks,cars and bikes...ok we expect that..we didnt expect all the people. Lots of double parked vehicles, ton of people walking in the center of the street and if they are not walking they have chairs out and have their feet resting on the pavement. Trying to pass the stalled, slowed or double parked vehicles is difficult. We go slow and avoid any incidents, using the horn and having it used on us. We found out later that Sat night when the sun begins to set is party time, not an ideal time to be driving.

    We finally hit Samana and round the bend for Las Galeras. Samana is not impressive but maybe without the hordes of humanity it has more appeal. We had planned to stop for provisions here but the darkening skies and total chaos moved us forward to our destination.

    The road which was already smaller and more poorly maintained after the Samana turnoff got worse after passing the AI's in Samana and we were glad we still had dusklight to see the washed out roads and obstacles includes topes that seemed to have no purpose. We saw the open manholes with palm leaves sticking out- thanks for the warnings there fellow posters!

    Before we find La Isleta Apartments, we stop in town for a few cold grandes...we earned them, after a somewhat harrowing drive.

    I'm going to stop here and post more in another section...this was way too long, my apologies but maybe it will help someone or at least give some folks some cannon fodder. I'm ready.

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    Fantastic report!

    Keep them coming!

    Frank

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    Default part 2- you asked for it-hehe

    Part 2

    Wasn't sure if I should post like this or new thread, let me know if I did this wrong.

    Contacted Dominique, the owner of La Isleta by phone (thanks Claro) from the beer stop and arrange to meet him over at our accommodations. He is prompt, courteous and answered all our questions. Not too many of those, we just wanted to relax and begin our vacation. The location of this place is very nice. Walking distance to most of the lower part of town where the tourists hang and you can see the local public beach altho you do have to go down the lane to get access. Lush gardens, very well tended and a nice layout. The unit we got was a 2bedroom 2 bath altho its just 2 of us and no, we do not sleep separately!
    Like all the 8 units on the property the 1bedroom/1 bath units are 2 story. Bedroom (loft area) upstairs with kitchen, sitting area and bath downstairs. The 2 bedroom unit is virtually the same set up except in addition to the extra bed in the loft area (one queen, one king) there is another bathroom. Don't judge me, but these are some steep and curving steps and when on vacation, I tend to drink. Alot. So 1 or 2 sleepy visits to the restroom in the middle of the night are not unusual. You can see where I am going with this. Having the upstair (sort of ensuite) bath was important. Yes, there is a large lounging area downstair which could be used a a bed but its more of a double size and we am spoiled at home with a king.
    Ok so we have a large selections of beds and we pick (Goldilocks style) the king. It is surprisingly comfy with a pillowtop and nice fresh clean soft sheets. We are happy.
    There is no AC but its December and every bed area comes with a large floor oscillating fan and mosquito netting. The place itself has unmovable shutter type window coverings with permanent screens, no window glass...nice breeze, very few bugs.
    But this is tropical garden and it has been raining at least once every day so there are mosquitos. They like to live under the bench table on the patio. Great patio. Lots of built in cushioned seating with extra pillows and a build in lounge. really nice. And pretty private too.
    Local colmados are open till 10pm, we grab a few jumbos for the frig and go to a pica pollo near the local disco for a shared plate of chicken and pork with tostones, rice and beans and found out you do not say frijoles for beans here. Luis, the owner spoke some english and took pity on my awful spanish, helping me out. He had us try the local fruit juice he made, chinola. Delicious but wish I had some Brugal to pour into the glass...it was very, very sweet. 200RD for the whole dinner with juice-it was very filling. Hit the sack early to be rested for our first day.
    Good sleep and up earlyish at 9am-hehe. the hotel includes a continental breakfast with the booking served in the lobby area, which is an airy palapa building right next door to us. there are carafes of coffee with cream and sugar and cups for self serve and a beautiful young woman named "Roo" behind the counter. No english but I can do the basics and after grabbing coffee to take to the porch, Roo bring us each a lovely plate of sliced homemade french bread, jam and butter and another plate of fresh fruit, a chinola cut in half with honey on the side, papaya and pineapple.And a glass of chinola juice each. A feast.
    OK so this chinola juice is made completely differently, very little sugar and you can really taste the fruit. Very tangy,refreshing and light. The chinola fruit itself needed the honey and then it was sublime. Not like the passion fruit back home at all! The jam was also chinola and mango mixed with cinnamon and I am now officially addicted to it. Ok, great. I am so puffed up for making all these excellent choices while planning the trip. Give me a gold star please.
    We decide to roam around alittle and get our bearings during daylight. Check out the local public beach. It's nice with lots of fisherman and small boats and some tour stuff for the AI about 15min walk down the beach, Grand Paradise. Town is small but lots of restos, bunch of tchotchke shops. Easy to navigate. We relax for the day and head into town later for dinner after the sun has set. It's Sunday night but the 2 disco's are open. To be fair, one of them is just an open bar area with enough room to dance. It's next to a newer looking bar charging 130RD grande so we park ourselves there and people watch. Bar looks like a guy ex-pat meeting place for young things but everyone is having a good time and who am I to judge.
    Eventually we move off and share a pizza mexicana (sausage) about 350RD and grilled octopus brochette 300RD at a Spanish/Italian place. Pizza was ok, pulpo with accompanying sales was damn good. 150RD for a grande. Pretty much the going rate around here. Head to the porch for some quiet contemplation of our Jumbo from the frig and the resident lizards. Bedtime. Wow, are we boring or what?
    We had a week here, did a horseback ride to Playa Rincon that was actually kind of grueling but rewarding. Rain had washed out the steep paths and where it wasn't slick mud had exposed tons of sharp rocks for the horses to try and slog up and down. Took 3 hours each way with a few stops at Lovers Beach, Playa Colorado (gorgeous place), Survivor Beach- never watched the show, feh and finally Rincon.
    Rincon had wide open sandy beach but for my money Playita was just as nice with the same spectacular backdrop of mountains and jungle up to it. Just one cove over and alot of mosquitos, horse sweat and sore behinds. Rincon had plenty of lounges for rent, a few places to eat and woman selling coconut bread (wish i had gotten some of that). we had a grilled fish meal which was good. Capitan fish, rice tostones. While there another group with horses showed up along with an ATV tour. Not exactly isolated. Water had a strange smell to it where I swam...kinda fishy...maybe I was too close to the restaurant...ugh. Rudy's Rancho had nice horses, we were experienced riders and the horses were well treated and well behaved. Rudy, who spoke 4 other languages ( yes, i feel stoopid), pointed out some interesting plants, points of interest and told us alittle about his families' history in Samana. It was a worthwhile day.
    We never made the trip to Las Terranas or Salto Limon, took a day to recover from the ride! We just lazied out at the beach and tried a few more restaurants during our time here. Met a very nice Italian family who moved here from Sardinia to start a restaurant, El Mango. If you are ever in La Galeras, Diddi and Alena are two of the nicest people you will ever have the pleasure to met. The food is superb, we went there about 3 times and ever plate was spectacular. Risotto, pasta with fresh clams, fish soup (omg the fish soup) bottarga in pasta (slobber slobber) and the rum flowed. Also tried a few italian drinks, Aperol spritz. Very nice- much drier than an asti and a digestive that I can't remember...I blame the rum for the memory loss. Oh and gelato, homemade chocolate and cream and after i was about halfway through it and in my own nirvana, diddi came along and pour some expresso and ron on it and holy crap, it was even better.
    So go there and give them some business. they are up the street from the main part of town, right across from the Bancomer and at the corner where you would turn to go to La Playita beach. Prices are ridiculously low for such amazing food and the company couldn't be better. They speak English, French, Italian and Spanish..Romanian too!
    Enough for now, I am even putting myself to sleep. Next installment and new revelations tomorrow.



    Quote Originally Posted by frank12 View Post
    Fantastic report!

    Keep them coming!

    Frank

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    Quote Originally Posted by Derfish View Post
    Most of us appreciate this type of thing. Thanks
    Der Fish
    It's sort of fun to re-live it and while i was lurking in forum, it seemed not too many people really did these trip reports. Stop me when it gets old. Please.

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    Excellent!

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    Quote Originally Posted by benja123 View Post
    It's sort of fun to re-live it and while i was lurking in forum, it seemed not too many people really did these trip reports. Stop me when it gets old. Please.
    Don't stop please it's great!!

    Matilda

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    You earned your desired gold star!

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    Default #3 Las Galeras-Our Search for Pesos

    Happy New Year to All!
    I will try another installment before all my memories fade;


    LG is a small town. Stay for a week walking its streets and like the old TV show "Cheers", everybody knows your name. NORM!
    We have made a few new BFF's. Trying to keep it under control so we don't do a replay of a Belizian off season vacation where we ended up at the center of a local soap opera. You don't need to know (Jedi Wave movement). More on that later.

    My partner normally insists on carrying whatever spending cash we need with him on our trips. He does not like using banks and ATMs. But since we had to pay for both of our accommodations in cash this time, along with our daily needs, it was a hefty wad and I finally prevailed in my sensible argument to use the ATMs and banks.
    So, it is Sunday and we need pesos, having used the small amount we changed at the airport for the tolls and sundries. No problem, I have done my research, we take a 15 minute walk to the Bancomer ATM. Insert card, choose English and ...what? The screen goes back to its static mode. Ok, do over. This time I get past that to "withdraw" and"checking" and increments of pesos up to 2,000. It's early (for me) I'm processing how much that is when the screen says something about too much time and continue but I don't hit the button in time and its back to the default screen.
    Ok Game On, you soulless evil machine.
    Both hands at either side of the buttons like a pathetic old pinball geezer, I am ready...press button, 1,2,3,4,-I'm in! The machine dispenses 2000DP and tells me it cost me something like 117dp for the transaction..hard to know exactly, the screen flashes past me so quickly. My partner is giving me the "look". It' $44USD ...he wanted 500. No problem, I'm smart. I will do this again and use the "other amount" option. Fingers ready 1,2,3,4...other at 5000RD and ...no joy. Machine reverts to all spanish to tell me something in a 2 second flash...no clue what it said but I saw an amount 4000RD.
    OK, I'll try that. No, nada, nunca. At this point the security guard at the other end of the parking lot is interested (or maybe amused) not so my partner. I can fix this. Tomorrow is Monday, we we go inside the bank and get what we need.
    Fast forward to Monday. We are in line at the bank, same guard inside now, with his same modified hilt sawed off shotgun. We explain what we need to our teller. We show her our atm card. She leans forward to share a confidence with us in a whisper;" The machine (she glances back at it on the counter behind her) is Muerto (her finger drawn across her throat in dramatic fashion). An apologetic smile. So we change the US dollars we have and she mildly chides us that we didn't have a passport with usbut gives us a pass this time using a drivers license. Note to self, bring a passport next time. As she is scotch taping a $20USD bill that had a tear, we ask maybe the machine will work tomorrow? She shrugs and rolls her eyes, another cryptic Mona Lisa smile.
    I have fallen from grace. I must redeem myself. We are told by a reliable source that the AI hotel has a cash machine that dispenses larger quantities. He says we can go on the property without a problem because "we are white". Wow. Try saying that in the US and hate will rain down on you like the daily morning rains that occur here.
    Back to the peso quest, Hope springs eternal. We are off to see the wizard. Just like every hop from town to town is only a 30 minute drive (NOT), every walk is only 15 minutes, so we are told. It is now later and sun is starting to beat on us. We stop for cerveza fortification at the beach bar before heading off to OZ.
    So we are not on a yellow brick road, this is the back way from the beach and after our 15 minute(hehe) walk tot he property we wander around like strangers in a strange land. People with lounge chairs over every inch of lawn, the ratio of beach sand to humanity is way too low here. We ask an employee for directions to the ATM. Reception..derecho on the path. The path turns and splits..this place is huge. The place is sort of depressing. It's hot. We cannot buy a beer. Is this how we are supposed to be spending our vacation? A few more directions from employees and we are there. Cue the inspirational music. I do my pinball stance and......it's exactly the same as the Bancomer in town. WTF? Another helpful employee tells me it is for my protection.
    Really? Because I can stand there and pull out another 2000RD until my fingers bleed as long as I keep paying the per transaction fee. I get a few more and I give up. My gold star is kicked to the curb. In it's place a large black demerit. I hang my head in defeat and we trundle back to the comfort of our porch and a consolation grande.
    It's Tuesday, we drive to Bancomer. We go inside. We have our passport. We wait in line. The machine LIVES! We get 400USD and celebrate by stopping at the grand (re?)opening of the Supermercado 2. They have something amazing. They are Jumbo sized Presidentes. We get 6 for only 760RD with a small bottle of Barcelo and head back to the porch with our booty.
    Next installment, if you don't hate my pedantic rants by now, I'll get back to my "Cheers" simile and the town of Las Galeras

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    Please keep going, enjoying this and can't wait to hear about Bayahibe. I had the same experience with the teller saying I can take out 2000 pesos at a time as many times as I want. Ok thanks
    Moderator Visa forums
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    #4 Norm!

    We have been in LG for a few days, maybe 4. After our first fruitless trip to Bancomer on Sunday, we walked back through townl looking for a place to have a beer. I knoooooow, you are shocked.
    It's early and alot of bars/restos are closed. A friendly animated young man is asking us to come into his shop. If you have cerveza, it's a yes. Of course, of course he does...we go inside out of the sun. I'm not seeing any coolers. I'm seeing sundries and tchotchkes. We go through to the back. Mamajuana...too early. He introduces himself. Solomon, originally from Jamaica. His English is impeccable. Mucho gusto Solomon, but the promised cerveza?
    Oh yes of course, we trail behind his enthusiasm out of the shop and up 3 store fronts to Supermercado #1. We have been here before. They do have beer. He grabs a grande from the cooler and we pay for it up front. Same 110-120Rd (can't remember)we have been paying. I ask for a bag (you know the little half bag they give you so you have all the elegance of a Times Square drunk as you tip it back.)
    Back to the store we follow the bubbling Solomon as keeps up his pattter. Two plastic chairs are produced outside the shop front in the alley shade, two plastic glasses. Ok Solomon has his bar. An opener? No problem Mon. One quick grip of his pearly whites and the cap is off before both our unified Nooooo's are heard. Solomon, our new friend, please get yourself a cup. This is pretty cozy and we are entertained.
    What we do learn is something pretty interesting. This young man is well traveled. He is ambitious. He rents a portion of the store to sell his goods. We meet the owner, who has been standing watching the proceedings with interest and clearly wishes to participate but does not speak English. My partner gets 2 cigars for a buck a piece, lights one up and we listen to Solomons' tale.
    He thinks many Dominicans are lazy. He says in Haiti, if a person has a choice to go hungry and be able to go to school, they will go hungry to get an education. He tells us that even tho Haiti is in such a horrible state, the people are better educated and more willing to work. He thinks the US should "take over" Haiti to remove the corrupt government and help the people. He is an interesting guy. We part company and on the way back to our porch, we see Luis from the Pica Pollo the other night. He invites us to come back, he is having something special tonight. We tell him we will try.
    We see another familiar face that has been at many of the places we have stopped. A thin elegant looking middle-aged or older gentleman who always seems to have friends at every storefront. We find out later from Rudy, people call him Rambo. He says he is not all there. Every one treats him with kindness and respect. He is a celebrity of sorts.
    There is a 9 or 10 year old boy we first met after grabbing 2 beef empanadas with whatever special sauce the squeeze over it and sit at the Banana Bar for our 130RD grande the night before. He sat at the bar watching us eat. After we were done, my partner looked for his lighter and couldn't find it. The youngster pointed to a small pocket where it was literally hanging out and my partner thanked him. I am wondering..what is he doing at the bar? Later he comes off the stool and grabs a wadded up napkin from my empanada I had set on the wall next to me. Ok, he works here. I see him go to the counter ask the owner something, get a few pesos and off to the empanada cart he goes to get one for himself. On the way out we thanks him and hand him 30 pesos. We see him often the next few days, he is clearing brush with a machete, he is hauling something with a wheelbarrow. He always stops and waves hello to us.
    We see Solomon the next night, drinking from a bottle of Brugal having a party in the street. He greets us warmly with hugs and offers a swig. We are on our way somewhere else and keep moving with goodbyes and hasta manana. Even some of the tourists faces are becoming familiar. It may be time to go soon.

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