Dominican Republic December 2012

We left Michigan just as the snow was starting, and managed to escape almost two weeks of cold weather. The weather was great in the DR, and we visited a lot of family that we hadn't seen for a couple of years. At 12 years old, Christina was a lot taller than our last trip in 2010, and now she was just about as big as her older cousins, though of course they are bigger now, too.

We got there just in time for the wedding of Sandra's cousin Jenny, though by flying in at 5 am on the same day, we had to sleep almost right up until it started! We got to see a lot of family and friends right away.

We also did a lot of travelling, going to the ocean on the North, South, and East sides of the country! For the first time, I was able to ride, since it turns out that Sandra's brother Miky is also a mountain biker. We rode three times, once with our friend Sammy. The terrain was very different for me than my usual rides, but it was a lot of fun exploring as well as getting a good workout. For me, it's more enjoyable than laying on the beach.

The Wedding!

Jenny and Luis are pictured on the left with their wedding cake. We don't know him yet, but I'm sure we will get to know him in the coming years.

I still remember Jenny as a little kid when I first started going down to "the DR". I remember how she was always smiling and giggling, and that on one trip she became shy and I only saw her once, when I spotted her peeking around the corner! Luckily, that only lasted one trip. She came and stayed with us for a few weeks once, along with Abuela and Christina's cousins Claudia and Daniela, when she was a teenager. She has really grown up now, first getting her degree, then becoming an engineer, and now getting married!

Christmas at Abuela and Abuelo's house

As always, we were treated very well at Sandra's parents' house, where they are very careful to keep us from drinking the water or eating anything that has unboiled water in it (salads, rinsed pasta). For the past few trips they have brought in Evian water for us (even for brushing teeth) and on this trip, they even found Lactaid milk just like we drink at home.

In the picture on the far right, Christina is playing a Wii dance game with Camilla while her brother Diego watches and waits for his turn.

The new cat in town

Christina just loved the new cat, Luna, that was rescued from the street. The older cat Sol (sun and moon, get it?) was still there, but didn't want to be around us much. Luna, though, is very sociable and was always hanging around and jumping up on people. With his thin sharp kitten claws and teeth, and wanting to use them regularly, it was a bit of a battle to deal with him sometimes!

Bringing home the bacon

Miky asked me if I wanted to go along to watch him pick out the Christmas pig, I think he remembered that I got some good pictures at the same place a few years ago. In fact, one of those pictures is in our front hallway and always gets a lot of attention from visitors. Ironically, I don't get to eat any of the pork, I was told by a doctor on the first trip not to go near it! I hear that it's very good, though.

They packed the pig in an old cardboard box used to contain rum. I'm not sure how sanitary that is, but it's kind of fitting. In the last picture, the lady is weighing the pig to see how much to charge. It's not cheap, at over $100 US.

Las Terrenas

On our trip two years ago, our friends Elio and Amparo took us out to see a property where they were going to have a home built. At the time, there was only a road into the lots, and mounds of red caliche soil. They could point out to us where theirs was going to go, but this time, we got to see it mid-construction. The walls are up, and from the photo to the left, you can see that they are going to have fantastic views of the ocean and scenery below. Click on it to see a bigger picture, to more easily see the ocean on the horizon (and the large bird in the sky).

The road to Las Terrenas

This time, the new road was open, and we were able to get to Las Terrenas in less time, driving from the capital city of Santo Domingo. Parts of it were mountainous, carved into rich red caliche slopes.

Surpisingly, at one peak we saw a bunch of guys with long skateboards and a lot of padding. Somebody said they saw cameras, so perhaps they were making an extreme sports movie. The guy in the front was American-looking, but you never know.

Viva Residence at Las Terrenas

We went to this resort for lunch and to hang out around the pool and the beach. This is a great place, really pretty and not many people around. It would be wonderful to spend time here working by Internet and relaxing.

Mountain Biking - Santiago

I've only been mountain biking for four years, and I didn't know that Sandra's brother Miky also did it. I had heard something about him riding, but I thought it was more along the lines of road biking. He arranged for me to ride his friend's bike and we went for a ride in Santiago, a large city with a lot of chaotic traffic. We rode through the city to a nearby hill and got in a great workout. It was a little tricky taking pictures with one hand while riding through traffic and potholes, so the pictures here don't show the worst traffic.

Mountain Biking - Sosua Day 1

This beach has a strip of small shops just inside the tree line, and the sand is shallow enough to be able to ride a mountain bike on it. I could tell from the comments of people we passed that they aren't accustomed to seeing bikes at the beach. We rode through to avoid being on the main highway, then rode in the streets of the town on the other side, El Batey. After that, we crossed the main highway and went up high into the hills on paved roads.

You can see from the picture to the left that there are hazards to be aware of - this was one of several open manholes that we saw!

Mountain Biking - Sosua Day 2

Our friend Sammy joined us for another ride through Sosua beach, El Batey, and North along the coast towards the kite-surfing hotspot Cabarete. We were closer to the coast on this ride. We also used the main highway a number of times, and I was unable to get pictures of the craziness going on there. At one point, a motorcycle and a car passed me side-by-side, all of us going in the same direction. I think he missed me by about a foot. But hey, that's the way they drive down here, and they're good at it!

Sammy took us to some great spots along the coast. Just when we were winding through back roads and it seemed we were in the middle of nowhere, when we got to the beach there were people all over. One of the spots had a surf school, and so we got a nice shot by the surfboards. In one of the residential areas we rode through, we found an amazing tree. Click on the picture to see a larger version so that you can see how huge the roots were.