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DOMINICAN REP    DIARY  2

Photos   Map & Plan   Diary 1 2 3 4

       From Diary 1, I now continue exploring the north coast.
26.
The main advent in this area should be the 27 waterfalls of Damajagua. It is 25 kilometres inland, and a nice drive. The first part  though, is pass the dumpsite once again, and several kilometres are covered in thick smoke. Besides from that, the area is dominated by lush, green hills with a bit of cattle. Here are a few small towns and scatted huts along the road.

 I've been advised to get to the falls early, and it seems like I'm the first, although it is half passed nine. It is within the national park, and I don't avoid a guide. Well, he is a nice guy and don't talk much. Next problem is; We can walk to fall number one or seven. From seven, it is swimming, jumping and sliding down the river to number one. So is the higher falls. Well, I would not only like my camera along: I would prefer it dry. We head for number one. I have to rent some closed shoes, which might become useful higher up.

A wide trail leads down to the river, but the suspension bridge have gone. We cross the cold water, and head in to the forest. Here are a few large trees, a lot of under growth and a few bromeliads, large Peperomias, Begonias and orchids, but mainly bushes.
We follow another real small creek, and I start wondering, if that is the source of the many falls.

It start to drizzle, and I'm kind of glad I didn't go for the four hour track. After around 20 minutes, we reach the fall, and it is the creek. Here are fall number one and two, each around three meters high and less than half a meter wide. Considering the amount of money I have spend on entrance, shoos and guide, I shoot quite some photos of the falls and the primitive ladder connecting them.

We head back, and start meeting other guests: All dressed up in swimming suits, closed shoos, life jacket and helmets. It look more like a theme park, than a national park! It have taken less than a hour, and I have to come up with a plan for the rest of the day.
 The 27 waterfalls of Damajagua - and mainly the nature

The fare north-west seems tempting, and I anticipate I might be more dry. I set the GPS for Monte Christo, and hope the roadwork will get an end. Here start to be some palm-leaves-barns on the hills, and then I see the first tobacco fields. I stop in one of the small towns, and find a generous ATM. I look for an early lunch, but fail to find anywhere, serving anything but dead animals.

I've been following the coastal mountains inland, but as I get closer, the landscape dry out a bit. Strangely enough, rice fields start to emerge at the same time. Guess they have a rich river to feed them. Then there are more tobacco fields, and a single large field with epiphytic cacti. It is for the tasty Dragon Fruits.
I see some pick-ups with sweet potatoes, here are a lot of bananas and coconuts. I don't see the fields, but some of the small stands along the road offers roasted corn, and it have to be fresh, I think.

In the bigger town of Maimon, a huge settlement along the road starts. It closes both sides for around 20 kilometres. Here are many butcher shops along the road, mainly with goats, but also cattle. All the meat is displayed under a palm-leaf shelter, next to the road. Some have live animal tied op to the poles too.

The road have found its way inland, and when the houses finally disappears, I have reach the semi desert area. Here, the Acacias and Cereus dominates. I drive for a long time, trying to find a hole in the neatly maintained barbwire fences. A single large field have Aloe veras, although they do look dry. Then a gate offers access, and I find some small Opuntias as well, but not as many interesting plants, as I have hoped for. I guess 500 years with cows and especially goats have taken its toe on the flora. Back at the roadside, I find some Jatrophas.

Here start to be some military control posts, but only checking cars going the other way. Next town is Villa Vasquez, which take itself serious. I fail to figure why. The road head out towards the sea again, and more rice fields are found along the road. Here, the white egrets are numerous.

I finally make it to Monte Cristo, and it is fare from the large city I have expected. I do a few loops around the central part, but here is nothing that get me out of the car.

Then I try the coast, and that is interesting. The first part of the road leads through some salt lakes, for harvesting salt. Some are bright white, some bluish and some dark pink. Each pond have its own really lousy wooden sheet, but it seems like the area is still in use.

Then I meet the perfect beach, and that gets me out of the car. Here are not a soul, but some interesting snails and shells are found on the white sand.
The area look like it could get some guests, but not today. A few locals are boozing in the small bars on the other side of the road, but here are room for more. I walk the beach and then head on.

The road then leads through a mangrove, and while I'll do another photo stop, a police car pulls up. Their English is worse than my Spanish, bit after several tries, they ask for a tip. They get my, for the occasion so firm handshake, and a wide and friendly smile.

The road end at some small hills in the beach. Here, it is a rocky beach with rounded stones. A single little agama sit on the rocks. I do a short walk, but it is getting late, and I saw a restaurant with cars in front.
They offer a mixed salad, and I add some fries. The salad is a mix of potatoes and a few carrot cubes, drowned in a sticky "mayonnaise". But the view over the ocean is great, and the pineapple juice real thick and delicious. I get the last bit of juice to-go, and do another stroll along the nice beach. Monte Christo

It is getting late, and I start the tour homewards. I get pulled over by a police control, and the officer claims I have been careened. Well, considering the area is more pot-holes than sealing, I can't really rule that out. It take him forever to get to how much he want. I give him 25% and tell him in a firm way; that is what you get. Mainly because he did have my driving license.

The rest of the tour home is pretty eventless. I follow whoever drives the fastest of the locals. A big bus is really stepping on it, but I looses him to the police, after quite some time. I like having a pilot, screening for cops and "dead-cops", which are numerous.

Waterfalls of Damajagua, Monte Cristo, the north-western part.

27. I feel I have seen anything interesting around here, and skip the last day in Puerto Plata. It start raining a bit, and I sit and find the best photos from Haiti. Then I set the GPS for Jarabacoa, and drive 50 kilometres back west and then inland, where I went yesterday. Some parts of the road are rather flooded, but the traffic is light. It is actually Liberation Day, and most get to spend it home. The poor guys, standing every 100 meters along the 50 kilometre roadwork still stand waiving their flags. I can't figure why?
I passes a lot of nice busses yesterday, and couldn't figure why they were parked here. Now I see the cruise-ship behind the trees.

In Navarrete, I turn east, and see the mountains ahead. Highway 1 runs around the big city of Santiago, but I head into it. I find a huge monument, which relate to their heroes. It was commissioned by the dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, only to honour him. Here are huge statues of the heros around, and the view to the city is complete. The sun disappears, and I head down-town to find an early lunch.

The town is pretty dead, and then it starts to rain. I passes a little restaurant, and hurry back. I get a huge cheese-ham sandwich, remove the ham and get two fried eggs instead. A Malta along, and it is one of the better meals in a long time. The rain have stopped, and try to find the old centre. As expected, I find it down at the river, but a police officer whistles after me: Despite everyone else is parked here, I can't?

I find another place, and head back. Here are several small but tree covered and green parks, and a great view over the river and the orange suspension bridge. I find an umbrella, just to be safe, and do a few loops without finding anything else interesting. Here are still a few old wooden houses, but most are rather new.

I continues down the RD-1 to La Vega, and turn right into the hills and towards Jarabacoa for 22 kilometres of RD-28. Small wooden huts dominates the road sides along with green bushes and trees. I can't find the hotel I have a reservation for tomorrow and the coming days, but I find a posh resort nearby. I feel like I can treat myself with a bit of luxury, like a hot shower.

The restaurant is right next to the great looking river, and I get a small cup of coffee while I write the booked hotel. I could easily live with staying here, but considering I stay at hotels for 100 days a year, I have to find some less expensive. Just the food here is four times more expensive than my lunch.

Then I head down to the mountain town of Jarabacoa. I had expected something more cosy somehow. It is not especially old, interesting or pretty, but here are a lot of music! The middle of town is closed to cars, and all the bars have expanded out on the streets. Posh cars with several square meters of speakers on the roof compete, and it is sure above 110dB. I make sure I won't miss anything, and head out a 25 kilometre mountain road, heading west towards the little town of Manaboa.

It is not only a newly sealed road, it is really pretty. A lot of steep cattle fields, some pines and huge fields on the slopes with La tayota/Chayote; Sechium edule, an odd looking cucumber. On some of the growing fence-poles, I find a single flowering orchid and many species of Bromeliads along with a Golden Orb Spider; Nephila clavipes. Some of the pine trees are overgrown with Spanish Moss. I end op at a blocked road, where the locals are celebrating Independence Day with loud music and a lot of beers. I hear around, and enjoy the tour back as well.

I try two pizzerias, but they do not have vegetarian pizzas, nor do they want to try making one. Then it is Penne Tres Tipos de Queso. Not that good, but more expensive than a night in my last guesthouse. It have turned dark, and I retire to work. Santiago, Jarabacoa and a mountain road and more from the mountain road; Calle La Cienaga.
                                                            It is time to crack-open Diary 3

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