My favorite night during our recent trip to Dominican Republic was the evening we arrived in Las Terrenas. The four of us were dangling our legs in the water at what we had dubbed the “Baller House” because of the infinity pool and the killer view. We were sipping on beer and wine, there were thunderstorms out in the ocean, and the wildlife surrounding us with their mating calls was providing great entertainment.
But let’s start at the beginning. A week earlier, Matt and I met our friends, Brian and Thea, at the airport in Santo Domingo. And together we drove our rental car to Bavaro, outside of Punta Cana, where our resort was located. (I don’t know if the Domincan had record amounts of rainfall prior to our visit, but we encountered a lot of flooded roads during our entire visit. It added another element of excitement to driving in that country, along with the usual: kids, dogs, and chickens meandering in the streets. Coconuts rolling around. Oh, and the palm fronds in place of manhole covers!)
And I’m not entirely sure where our room was supposed to be located, but I do know it was not supposed to be a room with a rooftop deck, the kind of room that we always expect that we’re going to get through our time share, but never, ever do (because we didn’t pay that much for it). Anyway, the stars were aligned that day (and we happened to be checking in at the same time an irrational woman was complaining about her room) and we ended up with a pretty swanky suite.
And the week went blissfully by, and we did what we never do on vacation, we relaxed. We drove around every couple of days to check out the surrounding area and other beaches, but I’ll be honest, I did not care much for Punta Cana. The beaches are gorgeous, of course, but that’s how it became a tourist mecca.
And so after our final breakfast mimosa, we piled in the car and headed back towards Santo Domingo, and turned north towards the Samana Peninsula. The last time we visited the Dominican Republic, we stayed in Sosua, toured around Puerto Plata, then stayed in Cabarete, Las Terranas, and Las Galeras. We loved the small towns dotting the peninsula so much then, we had to visit again, and it didn’t disappoint.
As we drove north on Highway 8, the terrain was just beautiful. Especially driving through the lush, mountainous landscape of Parque Nacional Los Haitises. At one point, I looked over to a small body of water and saw hundreds of white Cattle Egrets dotted around the trees. We actually tried to visit the park while driving back south to Santo Domingo, but it appears that the only public access is from the Samana Bay. (A good guidebook is essential for times like these, ours were useless. We used this Nat Geo one on our prior trip and it gave extremely good descriptions. Unfortunately, it we didn’t have it this time around.)
It was late in the afternoon when we arrived in Las Terrenas. We drove around a little bit (a lot) looking for the house we rented for the next three nights. We finally determined that the driveway we had passed several times had to be the one. That driveway. I’d show you a picture, but you would LOL. The pictures do not do it justice. Just trust me when I say that it’s really steep, and made of shitty concrete. It has several sharp curves and blind turns, and at the steepest part, when you need to be going really fast, the caretakers dog is right in the middle of the drive barking at you.
So that might not be so bad in a normal car, but our rental was a compact car with crappy tires. And the driveway was wet and slippery. After one failed attempt to make it to the top, we decided to get groceries in town, and when we came back, we parked at the bottom and carried everything up.
After we settled in and were making dinner, there was a knock on the door. It was the caretaker, the one who owned the dog who barks in the middle of the driveway. (He has more than just one dog, he has a whole menagerie, and they visited us at the house. It was awesome!) With our limited Spanish, we eventually got the gist of what he was saying to us: if you leave your car at the bottom of the driveway, your electronicos will be stolen, and everything else. There will be a shell of a car left in the morning. If you don’t want to drive your car up, you can take it to my mother’s house, she has a garage. My son can bring you back on his motorbike.
So Matt went to the bottom of the driveway on the back of the motorbike. He got into the rental car and backed up really far down the highway to get a good run at it… and he made it! We celebrated. So from that point forward, Matt was the only person to be in the car while driving up the driveway. The extra weight of the rest of us may have caused slippage. Needless to say, we planned our days very carefully. One up and one down.
And that brings us to the night of the mating calls. Really there was a lot going on all around us, but there was one tiny frog who was the main culprit. We’d pause our conversation just to listen to him, the tail end of his call reminded me of my cat chattering at birds. Anyway, drinks, legs dangling in the pool, storms in the distance lighting up the night, but leaving us alone. Perfection.
The next morning, we decided to check out Playa Coson, the beach across the street. It was lovely:
We wanted to get back up to the house to enjoy the pool before the sun went down, and we had a feeling that we weren’t going to escape the rain that evening.
That night the power went out after we had made dinner, thankfully. We sat around the table playing euchre while a storm was violently battering the windows. We had closed all the wooden slats, but of course, the rain was still coming in strong through the screens with the heavy wind. We played, breathing in (choking on) the scent of citronella. It was the only candle we could find. Matt and I discovered early on that our bed was almost entirely soaked with the rain. I checked out the third bedroom with the two twin beds, and the bed furthest from the window was dry. Matt opted for the couch. Not the one under the giant picture window, which had a steady stream of water flowing right onto the cushions, the other one.
To be continued…