Close your eyes if you dont...
Close your eyes if you dont like to see this....The head of the cow was outside a little shop, and the people who own this cow are very proud of the fact they can sell meat to other people. Thats why this head is hanging outside the shop! (with a lot of fly's too)
Life Is a Beach
Life Is a Beach – Cabarete Style
Cuando calienta el sol aqui en la playa…….
I vacationed here in Cabarete, RD for three weeks from January 26 – February 16, 2008. This is my third trip to this great island paradise on the North Shore of the Dominican Republic, on the Atlantic Ocean. It is about 30 KM from Puerto Plata airport on a busy local road. Local traffic consists mostly of motorbikes but all sorts of cars and trucks can be seen passing through. It is a busy, bustling town with lots of noise on the main drag, some construction, but mostly lots of friendly people trying to make a living at a resort off of “turistas” (not unlike any beach town like OC, OBX, etc). It is super safe, cheap and the weather rocks 24/7.
Cabarete sprung up first as a windsurfer paradise, with great offshore winds, a reef that protects the beach from huge waves but providing nice swells. Lately, kite boarding has taken over and in the afternoons, the sky is (literally) littered (how’s that for alliteration?) with hundreds of colorful kites blown in the winds with boarders carving through the surf. Boarders are of differing abilities but the best take off from shore, jump waves and raise up to twenty feet, do flips and land in the surf and continue their carving. It is awesome to watch – even beginners learning to jump pretty quickly.
But, it’s all about the beach – open air restaurants and bars again “litter” the short landscape along the beach. I guess there are forty or so restaurants of differing types of food and drink – some a bit more upscale than others but many friendly, reasonably priced (local beers are 60 – 80 pesos during the day or about $2 - $2.75 – sodas and smoothies are similarly priced). Huge salads cost less than $6 and they have burgers, pizza and familiar foods along with Dominican style rice, beans and meat. Where else can you get up, walk across the street hit the beach in the sun and warm breeze and eat breakfast or lunch outdoors on the beach for $12 and with wireless internet for free????
"Topics of interest"
Other topics of interest:
Places to “hang” when you’re not kite boarding – Pitu – great food from breakfast to dinner right on the beach with free wireless internet. The wait staff rocks and the food and drink are cheap (local beers $2 - $3; huge salads - $6; Dominican meals - $5).
Jose O’Shea’s – on the beach; best happy hour with draft Presidente for $6, all you can imbibe for two hours from 4 – 6. Wait staff and bartenders are friendly, “hot” and sincere!
Kite boarding – it looks easier than I thought – actually looks easier to learn than windsurfing. The lessons start with an hour on the beach holding the kite and “learning the ropes”. The second hour is wading in the water with the kite and learning to hold it while in the water. Lastly, put on the small water ski type boards and go for it. A young athletic snowboarder type can learn in a few hours.
Massages – many locals have massages for $25 – 30/hour in professional settings. I found a place where I had two women massage me for $32.
Travel – The roads are narrow and dangerous outside of the main towns. There are no sidewalks and travel at night is sketchy with people in the road, dogs, sometimes cows, like Mexico, and it is dark at night without lights. During the day, it is better, of course, but you have to keep an eye out. We did not rent cars but took taxis. We did one tour to go whale-watching and rode for three hours each way during the day and it was ok. However, the bus was large and we were constantly passing motorbikes and slow-moving cars with the horn honking signaling our pass.
The country between Cabarete and Samana was pretty spectacular with palms growing wildly, rice plantations and splendid views of the ocean from the roadway. Very few mansions are built thus far and much of the scenery is natural. We did see two lonely Dominican surfers on a stretch of beach that served up beautiful sets of waves for the taking. Many of the homes are “ram-shackle” made of tin or concrete blocks with few “Andersen-style” window components – mostly openings and open air environments. Ladies are seen sweeping up and tidying, dogs roam wildly (but not in a dangerous way) and towns bustle with shops, cafes, gas stations, butchers and the ubiquitous “beauty salons”.
Whale-watching – This was an interesting tour with the ride to and fro exciting as described above. We had a bus full of “turistas” from Germany, Britain, Canada and the US – mostly Germans. We stopped at a nice restaurant for a Dominican breakfast of ham, eggs, cheese, corn meal, sausage, fresh fruit, local bread, marmalade, fruit juice and coffee. You did notice more smoking among this group. The restaurant was set in a beautiful garden with views to the ocean. After a long, beautiful, albeit harrowing at times, ride to Samana on the Eastern side of the RD, we passed by a town constructed obviously for tourists – probably tour ships – “prettified” store fronts, four-lane roads, amusement park, etc. It looked nothing like the interior of the country we saw previously.
We boarded rather small boats that held about 40 peoples and headed out for deeper waters to search for the “ballenas” or whales. The guides would shout “vienen” or “atencion” and we would see the water breaking up ahead, tails swishing into the water to dive deeper. We would see spouts of water as they breathed. Then he shouted “familia” and we saw several together swimming and diving as dolphins do – but of course much larger – and finally the tails rise up and they disappear. It was an exhilarating experience, but somehow I expected a bit more. I guess I had Moby Dick in my mind and this huge monster whale breathing fire from its nostrils as we tried to capture it. It was all good, however.
Beach vendors – Cabarete has registered vendors with blue shirts that sell wares like jewelry, massages on the beach, fruit (ladies carry baskets of fruit on their heads dressed in long dresses and small machete like knives to cut and peel pineapples, coconuts, mangoes, etc. The fruit is cheap - $3 for a fresh pineapple all cut and peeled. Coconuts are $3 also, cut open and chunks of coconut provided.), cd’s, videos, etc. They can be obtrusive at times, but you learn to just say, “No gracias” and send them on their way. I have bought fruit, candy, jewelry and you can negotiate.
Dominican locals – very friendly, sincere and hard-working. There is some poverty here but most do what they can to earn a living and you see very few “homeless” or beggars here. The Dominican women are spectacular with golden to dark–toned skin with bodies and personalities “to die for”. The men are also quite handsome with varying skin tones, some dreadlocked with bleach or natural. Needless to say both my wife and I have had much “eye-candy” to voyeur during our stay. I have put my Spanish to good use conversing with locals and getting to know the wait staffs and bartenders and have come to really like their spirit and sincerity.
Foreigners – mainly French Canadians, but many Germans, Brits, European French and some Eastern Europeans. Americans are here but not in the majority of English-speaking persons. I have seen no “ugly” Americans, thankfully (other than the older
topless ones ;-)).