Dominican Republic - December 2017

Once again we left a nasty winter behind (seven cars in the ditch on our drive to the airport!) to spend the holidays with our Dominican relatives and friends. This time, we were heading to a new part of the country, the far Southwest, along the border with Haiti. Bahia de las Aguilas, which means "Bay of the Eagles", was our destination.

This trip involved a lot of travel inside the country, as we landed in the middle South, drove 5 hours to the SouthWest, drove 6.5 hours to the middle North, drove 3 hours to the middle East, then returned in 2 hours to the middle South to fly back to Michigan.

Again we were able to spend time in Santo Domingo and Las Terrenas with our friends (and fabulous hosts) Elio and Amparo and their children, who have grown and are world travelers on their own.

Miky and I didn't get to ride mountain bikes this time, which was too bad, it's really fun to ride there, so different than in Michigan, and of course, with much better weather at this time of the year.

Christina was able to speak more Spanish on this trip, since she has been taking Spanish classes in school, and she was working hard on it before we left Michigan.


Wintry Escape

It was cold and the roads were icy. We saw 7 cars in the ditch on the way to the airport! Traveling from a cold country to a warm country takes planning, you don't want to be wearing your winter jacket and boots when you arrive in the Caribbean!

I dropped Sandra and Christina off at the terminal with all the suitcases they could handle, then went and parked. I left my winter jacket and boots in the car in the airport parking lot, and literally ran through the snow with my running shoes on, dragging the remaining suitcase and wearing my computer backpack. If I didn't show up in 15 minutes, they had instructions to send a search party out for my frozen carcass. When we returned from the trip, I was worried that our 2005 Rav4 would be buried in snow and I wouldn't be able to figure out which lump of snow it was under, with only minutes to search before dropping dead from exposure. But, I found it pretty easily, and, amazingly, it started right up, despite temperatures well below freezing and not having been started in two weeks. This Toyota Rav4 is a great vehicle, and with four-wheel drive, it's great in the snow. I need to mention how the emergency blanket was a great thing to have in the car, it kept me alive after I got the car started and was waiting for it to warm up a bit. That's our plane to the left, our de-icer below middle, and the runway-clearing equipment. Can you believe they can fly out of such a place?!

On the Road

We flew into Santo Domingo and stayed one night at Elio and Amparo's place, then set out the next day for Bahia de las Aguilas, a five-hour trip. The scenery along the coastline was really pretty, as you can see in these pictures.

Boat ride to the private beach

The boat ride itself was a lot of fun, though the water spray made filming a little difficult. I'm pretty sure I got a lot of saltwater on my lens! It was about a 20-minute ride, with a spectacular view of the rocky coastline. Right when it was about to get dark, they started taking us back to the launch point, the restaurant. A few more people had joined us, so they had to do it in two trips, and the last group made the boat ride back in the dark, which was apparently a terrifying experience!

Bahia de las Aguilas (Bay of the Eagles)

This is a part of the country that I have never been to, and even Sandra had never been quite this far to the SouthWest. Pedernales is on the border with Haiti, and there were several checkpoints on the highway, where they apparently were looking for people being smuggled from Haiti into the Dominican Republic.

Near the bay, it is very rocky, and the roads were full of reddish rock, which must have been more sharp than rounded, as we ended up with a total of four flat tires between a handful of vehicles.

The beach is spectacular, probably the best one I've ever seen, with beautiful, clean sand, and turquoise water. With no seaweed and almost no rocks on the sandy bottom, it was perfect. We had several hundred yards of beach to ourselves, as they deposited groups of tourists by boat, spaced apart so that each group had their own private beach.

Cabo Rojo

The hotel we stayed at in Pedernales is owned by the same people that own this restaurant, which is on the ocean and is the boat-launching point for the private beach experience described below. They have an area where people can stay in tents, and as is often the case, some of the members of our Dominican family really enjoy making us believe that we are going to have to suffer some sort of rough experience. In this case, they had us believing that we were going to be staying in the tents that night. We hadn't been to the hotel yet, so I had no idea where we were going to be sleeping. I was actually looking forward to the tent, but I heard later that it's the sort of thing that you would do only once!

Hotel at Pedernales

Once everybody was back from the beach, we headed to the real place we were going to stay at, a hotel in downtown Pedernales named "Hostal Vista del Aguilas". I didn't see any eagles (aguilas), but it was a cute little hotel, with invitingly-decorated rooms. Sandra, Christina, and I shared a small bed. Pedernales is on the border with Haiti, in the far Southwest corner of the Dominican Republic.

On the second day, a boy under 10 years old came to discuss how somebody else thought that they had booked our room. It all got worked out, but it was surprising to see somebody so young being sent to do this sort of thing. He was apparently the son of the owner, so I guess he was being groomed to take over the business.