Diary 2, I now head south.
I get a real nice apartment in a separate house, and as it have become eleven o'clock, I head straight out to explore. My first target is the "main advent", the 60 meter high Salto Jimenoa Uno. It is a nice drive, but apparently it is closed. It seems like the real long path to it, by one after another suspension bridge, have collapsed.
A path on the other side of the road leads down stream, and it is through nice nature. I see some Anolis and bold Stinging needle; Urera baccifera. The trail is in the shadow of the huge and impressive Jabilla, a Euphorbia tree; Hura crepitans. Here are some odd looking ferns and some Rhipsalis cactus.
I have found a large lake, and will try to get to it. It is further down south, by the big RD-1. I gamble, and make my way around La Vega, but it was not worth the effort. It is quite modern city without any charm. Back at RD-1, I have to do a eight kilometre de-tour, just to cross the road.
I end up on a real rough road, and before I reach the lake, it is closed by a gate. Well, I know the drill, as I have to do yet another eight kilometre detour to continue south. My next target is a mountain road, which look entreating on the map. In Susana, I head west on a real good mountain road. It is quite familiar views, but still pretty. From higher up, I can actually see the lake I tried to reach.
I stop a lot of times and make photos of the views - although I can't tell them apart. Here are a few interesting plants, among them some real huge Bromeliads. I reach the pass with its little church; El Alto de la Virgen. Here are some dense Rhipsalis and small flowering orchids along with great views to the lowlands.
I gamble, and try to make it home through the mountains. In El Rio, I turn right, and pass through a remote area, never the less packed with vegetable farms. Carrots, cabbage, roses, you name it. Some of the large hills are completely cleared for crops.
I am in luck, the road leads all the way home to Jarabacoa. I head down-town, and now it is quiet. I try a few restaurants before I find anything vegetarian; another pasta in sticky sauce. Considering my two lunch bananas cost 5 pesos, I find these small servings of pasta a bit steep at 500-550 pesos!
My host give me information on another Salto Jimenoa Dos, but despite it is tempting, I think I will shift area. I had planed two more days here (but came one day early), and I might as well have a look at the south-western part of the country. Barahona might be the place? I make a reservation at a proper hotel - one I can find. Jarabacoa Mountians tour.
1. I head out of the mountains, all the way down to RD-1. Then I turn south for some time. It is the familiar green hills, in the distance, green fields in the valley. But I hope for a change along the route. My GPS does not recognise a road, making a shortcut through some mountains, but I gamble. If it fails, I will be in for a long drive!
It is a pretty tour, and the road is great - at first. It
crosses some rivers, some bone-dry, other partly filled. The road gains
height, and when it drops on the other side of the pass, there is a huge valley with
nurseries and vegetable fields. Then I reach a 20 kilometres stretch without
sealing. It is still a wide road, and generally smooth.
Then I leave the farmland, and it turns into more wild mountains. Here are only a few wooden huts and grassy fields. Then the road get sealed again, and the houses get bigger. Then I reach Padre Las Casas and then Las Yayas De Viajama, which is a proper town. On the other side of town, it turns real dry, and I make a pitstop at a almost dry river. For a long stretch of RD-1, a lot of stands were selling wooden spoons. Here, they are selling grinders in all sizes.
While I head out for the coast, the hillsides are turning into semi-desert. Here, the Acacias dominate, but several cacti are also found in the gravel. A few floodplains are covered in mainly bananas, looking odd in these almost barren hills.
Then it turns too dry for most; even the cacti seems to suffer! Some areas are that dry, they don't have barbwire fences! I stop many times, and do short walks in the hostile environment. I could have used some heavy boots instead for flip-flops. Never the less, I find at least six species of cacti, one of them unknown to me.
It is like half pencils, and to judge from the nasty thorns, it is never the less an Opuntia. Some other Opuntias are kind of Candelabra-shaped, and they look like they are suffering from the drought. The Cereus are doing way better, and a small bush is so lush! Here are a few Turkish Hat cacti as well, but they are on the edge.
A new valley have a lot of bananas, but the river is completely dry. Soon after, I'm back in Acacia land. I try to find a gravel road to follow into the area, and finally, I find a little, dry riverbed. Here are a new cactus I haven't seen before. It is like a mix of a Opuntia and a Cereas. A few Agavas are also found here. At the foot of one of them, I find some small Mammillaria cacti. My next selfmutilation-stop is at a flowering Agava. It have some bright orange flowers - way up. The Semi-Desert of the South
I reach the coast, and here are mainly cane farms. A little train transports them to the factory. Then there start to be more settlement, and at three, I reach Barahona. I drive straight through town to my hotel at the beach, dump car and bag, and walk back to town along the stony beach.
The town is a nice mix of old wooden houses and more modern buildings. Here are no tourists at all, but a lot of smiling locals. I find several churches and green squares along with a lot of small shops. After several loops around the rather large town, I find a market street, covered in seals and a bit dodgy. On most corners, groups of moped-taxis are gathered - and always in the shadows. Barahona
five, I head home through a domestic area. My room include breakfast and
supper, but unfortunately, the six dishes to choose from all include
animals. After some negotiating, I get the spaghetti bolognaise without.
Then it is home to the 350 photos of the day.
2. My car have received a much needed wash, unfortunately, I need it before he is finish. I hope he finish tomorrow, as I better return it a bit more clean than it was yesterday! I would like to make a big tour around the south-western part, but neither my GPS, nor GoogleMaps can connect the most western parts. I start with the inland desert, northwest on RD-46 towards El Lemon. There are some dark clouds, but it seems like it is the coast that get it this morning.
Pretty soon, after I have cleared the wooden sheets, I
meet a saltpan. When the terrain gain a bit of height, Acacias and cacti
thrives. I find at least thirteen different species of
and some salt tolerant succulents on the pans. One of the cacti is the
Turkish hat of the area; Melocactus lemairei.
Some areas are one massive wall of thorns, and even the goats avoid those areas. I follow their trails deep into the inland, and enjoy the undisturbed area, and make several long hikes. It seems like the road more or less follows a river, and in some of the valleys, farming is intense in small areas. One area is a wild oasis, with palms and ponds.
As soon as the hills starts, the vegetation changes drastic: Here are only brown plants, most with thorns. I pass a few small villages, mainly with wooden sheets. Goats are kept close to the settlement in these dry days. The road is pretty good, and here are some huge trucks passing bye.
I reach the large lake I was aiming for, but it is fare from the life-giving oasis I thought: It is salt! I guess they didn't see that coming, when they made it. The shore is made up by not so ancient coral reef, and the salt have not been washed out yet. The skeleton forest continues out in the water, adding to the depressing atmosphere.
pass a few large nurseries, then the desert takes over. I make some more
painful walks, but fail to find any new cacti. I would like to explore the
hillsides, but it is too hard to climb them, especially in flip-flops.
The road I thought I might use to get to the south, turns
out to be a little gravel road, and it is blocked with boulders - probably
by the military, as it is close to the border. I better not...
I turn around a bit further west, and head back to Barahona quite fast - although, I do make stops. In the Cabral village, everyone is making rocking chairs. I try to reach another lake, but the few places I'm close, small villages are blocking my way. Then I just aim for the sea! The western Desert with Cacti
cross bye Barahona and meet the sea a bit south. Again, the access to the
beaches are regulated by the owners. I pay 100 pesos - the same as I would
have paid for 50 bananas, just to park. The beach is real wide and made op
by polished pebble. Some have great patterns, other are real smooth.
I head further down the southern coast, trying to get to the water from time to time. The inland is a dense forest, but here are quite some small villages, some with small hotels. The sea look awesome in different bright blue colours. Some beaches have sand, other dove - hen egg sized pebble. I find some odd looking fruits, and I can't really figure what family they are from.
after Enriquillo, near the most southern corner
of the road, I turn back: The sun have gone here, black clouds are showing,
and it is passed four. I make a few stops on the way back, but the lack of
sun spoils it a bit.
From the wild Dominican republic, I head into the capital; Santa Domingo in Diary 4.