The Dominican SW with Haiti on the side hillbilly/hobo tour

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Thor Hiney, Mar 18, 2009.

  1. Thor Hiney

    Thor Hiney Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Southwest Washington state
    This is gonna be a photo heavy thread with contributions by other inmates (I hope) that went with me on this trip.

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    First a little background: I did a trip in May of 08 on the North East side of the island and already had an idea of how much fun a trip like this could be. Tour guide Ed and co-owner of MotoCaribe planted the seed when I was there that he planned to do a tour to the other side of the island in the future.
    Before Christmas he let me know that a 'Virgin Tour' was in the works and I should think about coming down there again.
    So I got permission from the Mrs. and from my employer and I was on my way.

    This report is about a 7 day group tour of the South West side of the Dominican Republic and Haitian border.
    I am just one of their happy customers that wants to share my experience with fellow V-Strom/adventure enthusiasts.

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    (The Dominican deal of a lifetime)
    Ride report


    Map of the Dominican Republic


    Second a little about me: I am the kind of rider who likes to soak up the surroundings and see and meet the locals. I am not one of those mileage monsters who ride 500+ miles a day. For me the ride becomes work and the only thing I remember from the ride is that white line going by and how tired/sore I am. I also bought a new camera to capture some of the scenery I knew I would be coming across. I kept the small camera in my jacket pocket for snap shots and the big Nikon D80 in a soft case in my huge tank bag.

    Third a little about my riding buddy: A hobo I know that has been in semi-retirement for a while and when I mentioned that I was going he sounded a little put out so I told him if he had any money he should not miss this. So it was me and (Mark) Berserker1 again. I put him on notice that he was not going to be angry and there would be no whining, and if he wasn't careful he was gonna have a blast. Come to find out his woman told him the same thing.

    Airfare was much better this time and I found a round trip deal for under $600.

    We flew from PDX (Portland OR)to Dallas to Tampa(a day before the super bowl) to Miami to Santiago DR. About 4500 miles. One long day of travel.
    While getting up and delivering me to the airport @ 4AM in the freezing cold my lovely wife informed me that this, what she was doing that morning, was truly love!

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    The MotoCaribe crew welcoming us to Santiago DR. Wegster sat next to me on the flight from Miami...he had done the North East tour after I did. About 10PM local time


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    Tired and hungry we stopped at a food place near the airport (Plaza Nunez) and had some Pollo (chicken), rice, chivo (goat) and Presidente (beer). He seems to look at home with a drink in a paper bag don't you think? Hobo is as hobo does!

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    Mark's first icy cold Presidente...there would be others!

    We stayed at the Gran Jimenoa hotel at Jarabocoa in the Dominican alps. I had stayed here on the last tour and was pleased to see that they had added on and remodeled parts of it.


    After sleeping like a medium sized rock we got up and went to help Ed out at camp moto. We 3 had all come a day early because of messy connecting flights that wouldn't have worked the next day. It was a good idea because we got to get used to the time change and rest a little before the tour started.
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    By request I got to ride #11 the same bike I rode on my last tour here.
    #11 sounded a little impersonal after spending the week together so I named her 'Juanita'. The black Colombian wee on the right.

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    We ran errands and rode all the bikes to the gas station to fill them up for the next day's tour start.
    Ed (motococoloco here on ADV) rewarded us by taking us out to lunch for some 'Cuban' sandwiches and a ride through the rice patties.
    Even though it's raining it's still about 75 degrees out.

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    Wegster is glad to be back and is back in the Dominican groove as fast as I am.
    This is gonna be fun!!!

    *The Cast

    Wegster, He can talk geek and motorcycles with the best of them.

    Levi, He likes to take pictures of crap. Ask him about that hot beemer he has. Fun guy and twisted too.

    Doug, People keep getting us confused. He's East coast...me West. I think he has less gray hair.

    Port, The senior member of the group and veteran world traveler.

    Mawgirl, An Aussie and a real kick in the pants. Don't call her pincess!

    DeStrom, Just as fun as Mawgirl but in German flavor.

    Berserker1, aka Mark, I have ridden a lot with this dude the last couple of years. (He hates to follow me)

    Me, I am the hillbilly with the camera.

    The Crew

    Alida, The native. The Dominican fixer. Small in stature, big on getting it done.

    Robert, Aka scooter 'El Jeffe de caribe' here. He is the taxi driver. Good source for history, politics and culture.

    Ed, 'Motococoloco' here Tour leader, goofball. You'll want to go riding with him.
    #1
  2. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    61,698
    We haven't seen many, if any reports from the Dominican Republic and none from Haiti.. Let's hope your fellow hobos will contribute to this report :thumb

    :lurk
    #2
  3. Thor Hiney

    Thor Hiney Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Southwest Washington state
    Sunday Feb. 1st 2009
    The sun came out and the other guests started arriving. Some coming in at Santa Domingo South of us, some at Puerto Plata up North. There would be 8 of us riding not including Ed the ride leader. I was a little apprehensive of there being so many and all the implications riding with a big group meant. Fortunately it was a great group and we got along like a bunch of school kids on an extended field trip. Still you only travel a fast as the slowest rider and there where times I felt (and I am sure some others felt) we were on the leash.

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    We 3 were already at Camp Moto when the others arrived and we started assigning the bikes and setting them up with tank and tail bags. It was nice to have a place for my rain gear and I put my sandals in the tail bag along with a walkie talkie and some extra water and extra snacks.
    Ed led a short ride through town to get the new folks used to the riding conditions in the DR. Everyone seemed to survive the field test so we would all be ready to hit the road in the morning.

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    We had an orientation at the hotel with a Power Point to give us some basics of what to expect and what we would be seeing. Ed told us that this country is a 'moto culture' which is good for us, and Dominicans come home from the hospital on a moto and spend the rest of their lives riding them.
    The threats don't come from the side as they do here but from front and back...use your mirrors all the time because cars will fly up behind you and expect you to move...immediately!
    Ed uses humor in the presentation and once out on the road you see why he needs to get riders ready for what we called on the last trip TVA (Total Vehicular Anarchy) anything and every thing goes...if it runs, trots or struts, it's on the road.

    Monday Feb 2

    After a good breakfast at the Gran Jiminoa we were picked up along with our luggage to really start this thing.
    Gearing up it started to get hot so I tried to get my riding gear dried out from the moist day before.
    I brought my Joe Rocket Alter Ego jacket and some new Alpinstars mesh gloves with Carbon knuckles (ask Mark some time if it hurts getting punched by them) and I was trying a 'Mandana' for the first time (rental helmet, funk control);) This all worked fine but at times I was wishing for some mesh pants as well because if felt like 100 degrees out on parts of the tour.
    On the road.
    We left Jarabacoa and went down the Autopista toward Constanza heading almost due South. There would have been more back roads on this part of the trip but Ed said that road is not passable yet due to construction.
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    Typical middle class Dominican home. I could see inside and it was clean and cozy.

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    Ed and Mark sharing some humor.

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    When the locals hear you roll into town they come out in droves to show off their loud bikes and riding skills. 'Dominican village trolls'
    It is absolutely amazing how fast they can ride a 125!

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    Child safety seats...we don't need no stinkin' safety seats!

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    The natives treated us like we just landed off the mother ship...wonder why?

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    Typical Tienda. Most everything you need is in here.
    Meat and produce comes from the market.
    If it was running around or on a tree today it will be in the market tomorrow.

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    Down a dirt trail off the main road leads to this home. Life in its most simple terms. What a refreshing change of pace.
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    Donde esta el bano?

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    Pretty good sized banana spider in there. I think the smell killed him!

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    Chinese Dominican?
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    Port checks out the offerings.



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    Stopped for lunch at a Chinese/Dominican place. This guy was the security system. You want to get to know these guys with the shot guns. They are on your side and I was happy to see them. Not that I didn't feel safe but you knew there wasn't going to be a problem with them around. Most were serious but friendly.


    More to come...
    #3
  4. Pedro Navaja

    Pedro Navaja Long timer

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    Great to see! I haven't been there since '78. ChangoGS was there just a few weeks ago. More pics please! :thumb
    #4
  5. Thor Hiney

    Thor Hiney Been here awhile

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    Pedro, perhaps you can help me with my Spanish? Seems like after a week I can order my food and get general directions. Real conversations are hit and mostly miss.

    Hey, I don't remember seeing a ride report from anyone lately. Did ChangoGS post one?

    There are more pics coming.:D
    #5
  6. Thor Hiney

    Thor Hiney Been here awhile

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    We made it down to Las Salinas and checked out a small bay there. This is the South side of the country and it was nice to see the ocean.

    There is a navel base on the way to the town with soldiers at sentry huts.
    We salute anyone in uniform!

    After seeing our hotel rooms Berserker1 and I decided we would just stay there and buzz around on the bikes at will and rent some fishing boats for the week.

    This little town is at the end of the road and traffic was pretty light and the vibe was good here.

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    Minnow bar front.
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    Behind The Minnow bar.
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    Inside. I bet this place is hoppin' on Saturdays.
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    Minnow?
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    'Hobo on the beach' Berserker1 gets his feet wet in 'El Caribe'.

    The hotel was right on the bay and Berserker1 snagged the keys that said 'switt#1 and #2'. They were up in the crows nest. You actually had to walk on the roof to get to the upper stairway. And what a view!

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    My room is just below the sat dish.

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    Those thoughts of completely dropping out and finding a way to just live here did cross my mind a few times. Wait....there it is again as I write this.

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    A happy Hiney soaking it all in.

    That evening after dinner and rum & cokes 'Cuba Libre' we walked down to check out the boats in the marina. They have paid guards that patrol the place and they were about my son's age and were a little bored. We had a somewhat broken conversation and they answered questions about their duties and weapons. They were curious as most locals were, as to where we were from and where we were headed.
    I came back and handed them each a buck and they all beamed. "I think we just made their night".
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    To serve and protect.

    More to come...
    #6
  7. laughatmyvanagon111

    laughatmyvanagon111 Wet Side of the Mountains

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    Those soldiers look so young!

    Great RR, cant wait for more.. :freaky :freaky
    #7
  8. Pedro Navaja

    Pedro Navaja Long timer

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    Sounds like you are doing fine on the language :thumb

    Nope ChangoGS didn't post a ride report. Not all of us do for every ride.

    Did you fly over Haiti? If so, did you notice the "vegetation" change when you flew over the border?
    #8
  9. Thor Hiney

    Thor Hiney Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Flew in on a cloudy night and it was pretty cloudy when we left. When I was there in May 08 we did not fly over Haiti to my knowledge. We flew in from the North.

    I was really checking out all the dirt roads and donkey trails...there are a lot of those that can be seen from the air.

    Yes, those soldiers are just big kids with guns. Loaded by the way...they showed us the full magazines.
    #9
  10. Thor Hiney

    Thor Hiney Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Southwest Washington state
    We were invited the night before, those who wanted to, to visit the dunes just down the road form the hotel. So those of us who could get up early went. I had just bought my new-to-me camera the day before departure so I was anxious to try and get the hang of it and see what I might be able to get out of it.
    Forgot to mention that on the trip south Ed told us to look for the D mark when the country turned from tropical to desert. It was in about a half mile and was a distinctive change. Cactus, sand, etc.

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    Old Zundapp in the hotel lobby. (My kind of people)

    We got permission from the ranger and he sent a guy with a key to open the gate to get on the dunes. We have huge dunes in Oregon so I have seen them before but I was curious about what the Caribbean version might be like.
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    The light wasn't ideal for photos but the water was very blue compared with home.

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    There was a lot of litter on the beach and I wondered how much came from the cruise ships passing by.
    We talked about what a 'Bottle bill' might do for the DR while walking the beach.

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    Levi and Doug... these guys are real adventure riders. Glad to have them along.

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    "Really guys you don't have to come up this way. I just wanted a photo. Really you can go around....guys!"



    On the way back to the hotel to gear up for the day's riding I sneaked between the houses to see what was off the main street. There was some local boys doing fielding practice in an open area. They may have been dressed a little rag tag but their skills were sharp!

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    They say the number one export from the DR is ballplayers. We found ball fields in some very remote places.


    You have to love a country whose points of national pride are: how good their players are, how good the coffee is , how cold the beer is, how pretty the women are. :D

    On the road.
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    A young local V-Strom believer! (public school kids wear these colors)
    The school kids go in 2 shifts, one fairly early in the morning and the other afternoons. So you are seeing school kids almost all day during the week walking along the roads (if they are not on motos or horses). Oh yeah they love seeing you on the 'Grande Moto' V-strom and will give you five on the way by. Here you are a rock star!

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    El Perro. Muy peligroso! A dog bite in the DR gets you an instant medevac flight. At least that's what my doctor told me in a very concerned voice as I got my tropical shots and meds. This guy looks like a survivor!

    We took a fairly rough dirt/pavement/rocks/gravel/holes road up a mountain (I love this stuff!) to where they have a park under construction for some ancient cave drawings. Talk about Pre-Colombian...these are prehistoric.

    The site was closed but Alida our 'Dominican fixer' got us in to see it.
    Pretty cool. A 'Globe trekker' moment along the way.
    There was some prehistoric doggy porn drawing in there but I decided to let you use your own twisted imaginations for that one.
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    The cave entrance. Que the Indiana Jones music now.
    Note: High fashion Hiney. Hillbilly is as hillbilly does.

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    The guide narrates, Alida translates, the son embellishes.

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    I think this was an early representation of the Merengue.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merengue_(dance)

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    It should be an Eco-tourist draw when finished. He told us there were 8 species of bat in the cave and we saw quite a few but they all looked the same to me. Might have been all the same group. Watch your step...bat guano! While you're looking up at them they leave a little something on the ground for you.

    Oh yeah, Berserker broke his bike on the way up there.

    More to come...
    #10
  11. Thor Hiney

    Thor Hiney Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    228
    Location:
    Southwest Washington state
    Not too long after taking off we had the first fatality of the trip.
    The tail bag strap came loose or broke and the tail bag flipped backwards onto the tail pipe. Smoke and melting plastic. One expensive set of rain gear and a two day old tail bag now holier than thou!
    It's OK you won't need rain gear around here.
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    Any excuse to stop work and watch the Motocaribe circus roll through town.

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    Meanwhile 'Mawgirl' tries to find some shade. Oh yeah, that was her rain gear in there.

    These little lottery booths are all over the island. (a tax on poverty my grampa used to call it)

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    The last house on the way out of town. We made sure and asked if we were on the right road (it was turning to dirt/rocks).

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    Mark and I saw this mud hole and sped up to the other side to take photos of the group coming through and maybe catch a sleepy bike.
    This is DeStrom plowing through it.
    Everyone made it through and then on the next greasy mud hole Port's bike decided to take a nap.
    Missed the shot...D'oh!

    We rode for quite a ways and then popped up on the main road surprised to meet a young German girl traveling alone by motoconcho.
    Since we had our own German along he and she struck up a conversation. While Port put himself back together. Glad he was unhurt...maybe just bruised pride.
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    @ the bus stop.

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    Motoconchos take you to and from the village out to the main road to where the bus or Gua-guas (mini bus/van) are. It made my kidneys hurt thinking about a trip by backseat of a Honda cub on the road we were just on.

    We rode up some great twisty mountain roads that look like pictures I have seen of the Western side of South America.

    We had lunch at Rancho Francisco in the small town of San Jose de Ocoa. It looked like it was THE place to be on a Saturday night and we were the only thing going on a Tuesday afternoon.

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    Geckos everywhere.

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    Yep, it was as good as it looked.

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    Dance hall with the obligatory 'Disco ball'.

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    And you know these will be turned up to 11 in the DR.

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    Stream fed pool and nice grounds...this could be a nice place to kill a few days in the mountains.

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    Pretty sure everyone ate too much and waddled back to their bikes.

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    Looked like they were building up. Dominican construction crew.
    Notice the beer case scaffolding and one too many supervisors...looks kinda familiar.

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    This Honda cub was parked right behind us. It has had some blue bling
    added.

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    More coming...
    #11
  12. Thor Hiney

    Thor Hiney Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    228
    Location:
    Southwest Washington state
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    Heading back down the mountain. These were some fun roads with only spotty traffic. Some sides of the road were washed out and there were a few major league potholes.

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    Steep mountains=fast moving water after big rain.

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    A Wee lounge chair.

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    "Seriously...a family of 4 could have lived comfortably in that one pothole!"

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    These guys aren't used to selling that much fuel at once. He under charged and came back for more pesos. It was a funny moment when he couldn't figure out who paid him earlier.

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    Back out in the open and it's getting hot now. Time for a water break.
    We also got some faster traveling speed in out in the desert.

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    The proprietors. Obviously a brother and sister team. (notice the size of speaker he is leaning on)

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    Back behind the place they were attempting some kind of solar jerked chicken!!! They added oregano...the flies came on their own.

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    Levi shares a giggle and some digital camera fun with the local kids.

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    While the neighbors across the road take in the show.

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    I had to take a pic and post it for you electricians.
    There were tales of Dominicans dying every year from touching bare wires.:eek1

    Well we rode up to a place near the city called 'Polo Magnetico' that was on a mountain.
    It had a down hill that looked like an uphill section. You could put your bike in neutral and coast up the hill...or so it seemed.

    I should mention Mawgirl took a corner too sharp here and tipped over her bike. She was pinned under the bike at her ankle. She said she was not hurt and that was good to hear. I missed that shot by picking the bike up off of her....wasn't someone else carrying a camera?

    The place was so popular that they had built a through road around it to preserve the optical illusion and landmark.


    It seems whenever you stop and no matter how remote, people just start showing up to check you out.
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    This little girl just walked out of the woods and hung around. Her mother showed up...out of the woods also and she recognized Ed from his earlier scouting trip.
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    The mom was expecting and she, the daughter, two boys, and their dog all looked like survivors.

    It was a short 12 mile ride down the gravel mountain roads and into the bustling city traffic of Barahona.

    I was greeted by a fruity tropical umbrella drink in the lobby of the up scale hotel and rubbed my now sunburned face and tried to take in all the day had passed by me.
    It really felt out of place.

    I would sleep hard that night but kept seeing the faces of those people as I slept.

    More to come...
    #12
  13. Thor Hiney

    Thor Hiney Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    228
    Location:
    Southwest Washington state
    Barahona

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    I had a large room with 2 queen beds at hotel Costa Larimar in down town Barahona. This is a port town and the city kinda rolls down the hill toward the water.
    Some other tourists warned us there was something wrong with the pool water and we didn't need a rash so we ended up swimming in the ocean just behind the hotel.
    They had Gilligan's island on one of the 57 Spanish channels, dubbed of course and I laughed at the comic irony of it. (most of the people here have no phone or motorcars...and not a single luxury)

    They also had some Cuban TV and it had a very strange production value to it. (seemed like everything was shiny)

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    There were fishing boats along the beach behind the hotel and kids would come up and try to sell you fresh fish and homemade coconut cookies.

    Those cookies looked good but spending the day on the bike with the runs did not sound like fun. Lo siento...no gracias amigos.
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    Out on the road it was going to be a hot one.
    Wegster and Beserker at a water stop and living large.

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    Flat, hot and looking strangely like Africa.

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    Still early in the day and already a scorcher. The locals of Las Baitoas take a rest out of the sun and catch the show.
    I have to keep reminding myself it is still early February.


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    They think Berserker is some rock star...Peter Framton perhaps???


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    We took another water/pee break at Boca de Cachon. They had trapped the water coming off the mountain to make their own oasis. Very clear water and I so wanted to jump in it.
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    Soak the mandana, soak the t-shirt and soldier on.

    We rode onto La Descubierta for an outdoor cookout. The restaurant offerings were sparse in this part of the frontier so Motocaribe put on a BBQ for us in a shady park. Nice.

    We soon would have lots of company.

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    Spanky, Alfalfa, and the rest of Our Gang came to see what had come to their village.

    They looked hungry so I dug out a bag of cashews from my tank bag and told them to share it around.
    They did as they were told but Mark had to get on them for leaving a little one out.

    If you are a dad, you are still a dad no matter what part of the world you're in.

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    Alida showing the kids the photos. They all love seeing themselves and their friends in the camera.

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    Beads are a very popular hair treatment.

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    This was 'Jasmina' and I told her she was a heart breaker!

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    The shear joy of getting to sit on the 'grande moto'.

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    Mawgirl and this boy made a connection despite the language barrier.

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    A Dominican girl with obvious Haitian roots. I could not get her to smile...maybe she just didn't.

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    Soon we had them lined up at least 10 deep to sit on the bike.
    Look at his hands...they have seen some hard labor.

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    A sweetheart.

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    He made sure to let us know she was taken...told ya she was a heart breaker!

    We had some left over food from our BBQ lunch so Alida organized a give away program for the kids around.

    Scooter put the boys to work loading the van back up then gave them the leftover hot dogs and hamburgers.
    They made very short work out of what was offered.

    Ed's SO had sent a really good homemade pasta salad with us and the leftovers were turned over to some kids who promptly ran with it. After some yelling and direction-giving from Alida they commenced to sharing it and it calmed down a little.
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    The village is empty because the Americanos have food to give away.
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    More to come...
    #13
  14. dtysdalx2

    dtysdalx2 PITA but useful

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    Wow, what a trip!

    Thanks for sharing!
    #14
  15. ChangoGS

    ChangoGS Banned

    Joined:
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    En la mesa del rincon en Metz France
    Good Report !!!! :clap :clap

    I did not post one for lack of pictures.


    #15
  16. KHVol

    KHVol Long timer

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    Man, great ride report..hope you have a lot more to show and tell...
    #16
  17. Thor Hiney

    Thor Hiney Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Southwest Washington state
    Where were you in the DR?
    Did you rent a bike?
    #17
  18. Thor Hiney

    Thor Hiney Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
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    228
    Location:
    Southwest Washington state
    I should mention that as we rode West from Barahona we ran into check points on the road about every 8 miles or so. They would neck down the road and have gates (usually open) with armed border guards/soldiers sitting or standing, checking people as they came through. There is always one or a couple of speed bumps in the crossing also.

    They were looking for Haitians coming into the country and they seemed to be extremely serious about keeping them out!

    After lunch and saying adios to our new friends from the village of La Descubierta we rode toward the lake. We had been getting glimpses of it all morning it would be good to get a good full view.

    Lead rider Ed warned us to watch out for the Iguanas as there might be some on the road. I did see one on the side but we soon would be at the National park where there were lots of them.
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    These guys can move fast when it's hot out...like now!!!
    They would eat bread out of your hand and put on a pretty good show for us.

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    I had a conversation with these guys and taught them the English word 'Ranger'.

    Back on the bikes and headed for a cool site called Las Caritas.
    The lake was originally at sea level because the carvings were in coral.

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    These carvings were done by the Tiano Indians.
    Read about them here
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    Ed said this is the first known smiley face.
    He told us after 1492...they were all frowny faces. ;)

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    We climbed up a stone carved stairway to see them.
    Check out where the bikes are.

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    A salty lake, Lago Enriquillo.

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    The terrain flattened out again near the end of the lake and we started seeing palms and then cane fields.

    These are the cane trains. They are about 3/4 size and loaded with fresh cut sugar cane. (You train guys would know the name for this train size)
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    You want a hard life work in a cane field...
    The big guy in the photo, I am sure didn't have it too hard but the guys we would see coming out of the fields would have about 2% body fat and looked hard as nails.

    I thought about watching those great Cuban boxers in the 70's during the Olympics and understood a little better why they were so tough.

    Another water/pee stop and Berserker was walking around with his riding pants around his ankles.
    As soon as he sat down the cameras came out.
    I am sure the locals thought we were loco!
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    Good pose though! Hobo is as hobo does!

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    This bus pulled up hauling someones fresh fish on the wipers.

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    Banos?

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    This is a little of frontier sophistication...it had water running through the trough and it didn't stink.
    It was THE bano for the town disco dance hall/bar.

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    Wegster rides sweep!

    It was a little bit of heaven to come back and take a cool shower and talk with the rest of the crew about what a fun day over dinner.
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    They next day going to Haiti would be a real eye opener!!!

    More to come....
    #18
  19. Thor Hiney

    Thor Hiney Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    228
    Location:
    Southwest Washington state
    I washed some clothes out in the sink with the complementary shampoo the night before and rinsed and rung them out to hang on the deck rail. (my mom always said you can never have too many clean undies). Anyway things were getting stinky and something had to be done. Plus I knew it was going to be another hot day out. The point of all that being that when we ate breakfast in the morning Berserker told me it wasn't hard to pick out where the hillbillys were staying. (pointing to my laundry hanging).

    We stopped and all filled our tanks at the last station out of town for trip to the border.

    A local kid walked to about 15 feet from me as I am waiting to fill and then acts like he is crippled. Hand out begging. I just laughed at him and said "chistoso!". (joker) He would have to at least walk as a crippled person the whole way over to people before he could sell that act. He was a little hurt that I wouldn't give him any pesos....kids!

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    The SW coast road was worth the trip. Man that was a freaking fun beautiful road to ride. Kinda like 101 on the Pacific coast with blue water and no motor homes. We talked about just riding up and down that the rest of the week.

    Hey Berserker you are blocking the view!!!
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    That's better.
    You can see the road we were on running right next to the ocean.

    This road eventually heads North a little and you get away from the coast.
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    Time for another water stop and the people came out to see us again.
    That tank bag is...HUGE!!!

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    Cute and curious kids. They showed me where their school was. I think this was all one family.

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    Stylin' and color coordinated.

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    I asked nice and she came out from inside the doorway to let me take her picture. (she had no teeth and I couldn't understand a word she said..Spanish or no)

    On the road and quite a ways away we ran into the first of two cattle drives.
    This one we kind of waited for the traffic behind the cows to move it past us and the second one we just rode right up to the cows...horns beeping and us yelling...anything loud really...these are Spanish speaking cows after all and they don't try to understand you. El Mooo!

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    On the road to Pedernales on the Haitian border we saw stuff smoldering for several miles. It started looking creepy and apocalyptic, like some scene from a Road Warrior movie. It turned out is was only clothing but it looked macabre. There were people walking out in the middle of nowhere also and among the burning clothes on the sides of the road. What the heck? This was just strange.

    The road is pin straight for quite a ways and then you go through a serious gate with soldiers/border guards then it turns into the most pleasant twisty beautiful road again. Very scenic. (My photos from the bike are always fuzzy and mostly of my chin or hand so I pretty much have given up on that...sorry). Then you roll into Pedernales. It's a border town without the glamor.

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    'Check point Charlie' The Dominican side of the line.

    The plan was to cross the border, get the photos, take a quick look around, and then get the heck back to the DR.
    This border crossing on the Haitian side was so poor they didn't even have a stamp for your passport.
    Something I was really hoping to get.

    The Dominicans acted like we were all crazy for wanting to go over there...then it got a little more serious.

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    More to come....
    #19
  20. Thor Hiney

    Thor Hiney Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    228
    Location:
    Southwest Washington state
    Scooter was telling us that twice a week they open the border to trade between the two countries. The Dominicans can get hand crafted goods and cheap clothing etc. The Haitians can get badly needed groceries and produce. Haiti is a hungry country...you might have heard or read some of the horror stories from the last few years. These are desperate people. We had parked the bikes near where they set up the market on those days. (this was not one of them unfortunately).
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    There were some, I guess, Haitian boys hanging around the empty market; they looked to be from about 8 to 20 years old, but I am guessing ages. Not sure why they were on the Dominican side maybe they were Dominican...not sure either way. They all had an odd collection of attire amongst them. One in a long green leather jacket and one in a child's pink stocking hat. They were speaking creole as best as I could tell and talking amongst themselves about us and the bikes. they asked me some questions and there was definitely a language barrier there.

    A little history here

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    The Haitians desparately want to come to the Dominican Republic.
    This fence and a lot of guards with guns keep them from doing it.

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    We went into the immigration office to see what needed to happen to get across the border and more importantly what it took to get back.
    Inside this tiny building were two bureaucrats at a run down desk and a couple of young guys hanging out inside. I am pretty sure everyone in there had a gun. Levi told me that the guy on the right was peeling hundred dollar bills counting a pile. So I walked in and snapped a covert pic without them noticing me do it.

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    Whatever was going on in this corner of the frontier, legal or not, was up to these guys.

    Alida told us that they wanted us to surrender our passports and then we had to pay the mandatory immigration fee of $10 US to get back into the DR. (You are required to do this when you enter the country the first time also)

    I had a bad feeling about giving anyone my passport but we all put them in a pile and a soldier buzzed away with them on a moto toward town. They said they need to 'verify' them....hmmm. :scratch

    While we waited we tried to talk to the group at the border. These were some skinny kids. You could tell they had a huge respect for the border guards and soldiers. They were keeping an eye on us and an eye on them.

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    DeStrom checks out the barracks and the Bano. (yes it was a manual...bucket of water to flush it)

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    The soldiers are cleaning their weapons behind the barracks.
    (another set of young men with guns)

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    That's Haiti behind me. (the border marker by my left elbow) So close!

    We waited in the hot sun for what seemed like an hour for the guy on the moto to return with our passports. It was giving all of us a very uneasy feeling. I had those horror stories on ADV of people trying to get across the borders in central and South American running over and over in my head.
    This was one of those times when my radar went off and I told myself this could potentially be a bad place to be in.

    We were talking about it among ourselves and no one wanted to; #1. spend the night in Haiti, #2. Get fleeced for coming back in to the DR. The sight of all those US hundred dollar bills in the hands of the bureaucrat was fresh in my mind.
    So when the guy finally came back with our passports, no one was going in.
    We wouldn't have to stand in the sun waiting for who knows how long for any one who did go in to get back either.

    On that day at that time it just wasn't going to happen.

    I was pretty bummed.

    I should also add that I wouldn't be able to take a bike in without a carnet and off the bike you are just another tourist.

    We were getting ready to gear up to leave and Alida took out some pesos to disperse among those young guys at the border when she started getting overrun by them. Desperation yields disparate acts.

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    Berserker steps into the crush to protect her. Thanks man.

    He told me later that the soldiers came over and smacked on one of the kids to break it up. He said it was a loud crack to the head. I never saw or heard it. I was in the photo journalist mode.

    More to come...

    *Note cast of characters added to first post so you can keep us straight.
    #20