Saturday, March 28, 2015

Hola, Cofresi!

Based on our grossly inaccurate calculations we expected about a 20 hour trip from Big Sand Cay (Turks & Caicos) to the Dominican Republic. But we started out motoring faster than usual in flat calm and then, as the wind picked up, sailing faster than we expected. Why does this never happen when we want it to happen?!? After a lot of frustrating adjustments attempting to de-power throughout the night we just put the sails away and motored very slowly and uncomfortably in choppy, disorganized seas until the sun came up and we could hail the marina. We drowsily cleared customs and met our dock neighbors on Morpheus of London. They gave us the scoop on everything, including how to sneak into the off-limits pool. We enjoyed a day of rest and sneaky pool time then quickly dove into two much-anticipated land adventures and a truly nasty case of Taino Revenge. Thankfully no photos of that will be included. Have you ever seen a cascade of second time around ramen noodles running down a stairway? Try getting THAT image out of your head.  

Mountains! Mist! Odors! About 15 miles offshore the wind shifted slightly and we were suddenly overwhelmed by a warm, smoky, earthy, livestocky smell. The Bahamas were flat and  virtually odorless. This olfactory onslaught was the first thing to hit us, followed by a view of lush mountains at sunrise. Beautiful! 

The best and only free wifi we've had in months! I think we spent hours in this position.

On day two we visited the Damajagua Falls (aka 27 waterfalls) in Puerto Plata. This is a popular thing to do when visiting this area and is probably where we picked up the cholera, um, I mean, traveler's disease. 

The hike to the top took about an hour. There was a lot of heavy breathing on the uphill parts. We are so out of shape and these young guys who do this every day were laughing at us. We kept stopping to look at everything because it was so jungle-y. 

We made it! There were a lot of big groups but we were lucky to have two guides, Kevin and Lenny, to ourselves. They were really cool and it gave us a chance to get to know each other and dive right into speaking (terrible) Spanish. Lenny and I both have sisters who live in Boston! 

So first you hike up and then you get back down by jumping and sliding down 27 waterfalls. We lost count. This is the very first waterfall. The cool water felt great after the long hike. The helmets look silly but there were a couple moments they seemed like a really good idea.  

The first warm up jump. Kevin took over camera duties so we could just enjoy it. 

Wide, uncertain eyes quickly turned into huge smiling faces.

The whole thing was very pretty. This is one of the slides we all went down. There were some slides that were pretty daunting but there's no other way to get down! So you cross your arms, plug your nose, sit your butt where they tell you (or yell at you when you hesitate and say you don't want to because you think you're going to slip and they say they have a hold of you but you say you don't feel like they do and then somebody picks you up by the back of the lifejacket and says see I told you I have you so you do what they say and sit your butt down) and go for it! I think it was the most times I've heard the phrase, "you go first." 

This picture was added as a public service. For those of you dreading the annual stuffing of your pale, chubby, hairy bodies into a bathing suit after a long, cold winter, just look at this humiliating photo and you'll feel better about yourself. You're welcome. 

There was a lot of clambering. Towards the end Evelyn got really cold so Kevin took her quickly through the last of the slides and put her in the sun. Upon reflection she was probably on the small side for this outing but she loved it and the guides took great care with all of us. 

The rock looks like a face. 

Artsy clambering.

We were so pooped at the end but it was a lot of fun.

We stopped for lunch in an area called Maimon which is known for its seafood. There are so many of these open air restaurants. Come to think of it we haven't see any enclosed ones. That's an English/Spanish book on the table. We're kind of glad the Dominicans here don't launch right into English. It makes us feel less like tourist jerks. A lot of times there's no choice and other times it just seems like they're being nice letting us figure it out and helping with forgotten words or correct phrases. 

A dream come true! Evelyn has been dying to go horseback riding since we moved on to the boat. Unfortunately Andy had to miss out on this outing due to his tourist tummy. Evelyn's steed is named Caramelo. He was very sleepy and slow.

We rode through the peaceful countryside of an area called Munoz. Our main guide was really proud of the beauty and tranquility of his surroundings. To him, this is happiness. It really was pretty. 

We stopped for a refreshment and the kids taste tested the pepsi and 7up. Everything is so rustic. Which is not to say intentionally charming but frankly, totally poor. Besides the over the top artwork this is not a place for tourists but rather a gathering spot for the people living in the area. It's just there and seems so normal that the sink is outside and the toilet is an outhouse you flush by pouring in a bucket of blue "water." Our visit drew a smattering of men and boys curious to look at and talk about us. They were absolutely flabbergasted that we live on a boat. And I always wonder why I never see women hanging about.

Bunny ears on a horse.  

This is one of the houses we went past. Pretty basic, pretty wide open. The weather is tropical but really pleasant. Warm and breezy during the day, cool at night and enough rain and clouds to keep it dynamic. 

Drew's horse was very easygoing and sweet.

My horse was a pain in the butt who always wanted to run and to be first in line. 

This monstrosity is part of the Ocean World complex. We're staying in the marina, this building is the site of the casino and vegas style show and there's also a park with a dolphin experience and sea lion show. We can't figure out the original vision for this place and how it all ties together. No matter: it's all being re-vamped anyway.  Clearing into customs is easy and we feel like the boat is safe when we leave it, frequently, unattended for many hours on end. 

Yummy Mexican food right near the marina and across from the Playa Cofresi. Andy had recovered enough to join us for lunch.

After lunch Andy and the kids swam at the beach. We were really spoiled by the clear blue waters of the Bahamas and this was kind of disappointing. Well, it was actually pretty gross. I got out of it. Hey, someone has to stay with the bag. Not long after lunch and the swim, Andy relapsed and the kids weren't far behind. Looking back on our first 48 hours we'll never be able to pinpoint the source of the stomach ailments. But we had a great couple days and we're probably stronger for it!  

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