Saturday, April 4, 2015

Excursions in the DR

Being knocked out by a stomach ailment curtailed our hopes of traveling extensively in the Dominican Republic. However, once recovered, we rented a car and packed as much as we could into a few days. The people are handsome and vibrant and they drive like maniacs but it's friendly and fun and we were only a little bit terrified at times. The only way to describe it is a place full of rules in which no one follows the rules. Our sense of order and personal space never quite got used to this. But we had a great time jumping into it by riding the Teleferico (cable car) and driving to Luperon and La Isabela, the settlement site of Christopher Columbus' second voyage in 1493.

It was a holiday weekend so the line for the cable car was really long. The wait was almost long enough for a couple of us to lose our nerve. Without these barriers and an organizer there would have been pandemonium.

Our view of the destination. As our group watched our car make its way down Loma Isabel, a man in a wheelchair arrived through a side door with a family member and guide. We immediately realized (freaked out) that this would put the car over capacity. But nobody gave a shit except us. As soon as the car arrived and let out its passengers, everyone started pushing and shoving to get in. Including the guy in the wheelchair! We were totally unprepared and within 4 seconds realized we were last to get in and we wouldn't fit anyway. So we told the only person working there, the magician who entertains while you wait, that we'd wait for the next car. As jam-packed car #1 jerked off the platform, Andy and I had the same fatalistic thoughts: Either car #1 is going to crash and burn and we'll feel guilty forever or car #2 is going down with us in it because we gave up our spots. Maybe we were a wee bit nervous!  

Evelyn had been looking forward to this since the day we arrived. Drew was just happy he decided to brave it. Here comes car #2!

The sign said maximum capacity 20! But because we were counted in the group for the previous car, they didn't realize that the 22 people they put into the next group (yes, that's more than 20!) wouldn't include us. And does anybody remember there's a cable car operator who counts as a person too?? We were so packed in and uncomfortably wedged between strange boob and booty. This group was so loud and rambunctious it was like being stuck at the top of the ferris wheel with that ahole who thinks it's HILARIOUS to swing the seat as hard as he can while you curl up in the corner sucking your thumb crying for your mommy. Add to that a general distrust of any ongoing maintenance and we thought for sure we were going to die. 

OK the views were amazing and it was a really exciting ride! And Andy is featured in about 50 selfies. We didn't see a single Dominican man with facial hair and they all liked to look at him. 

Our concerns were well founded when we reached the top and COULDN'T REACH THE TOP. The car was so overloaded it couldn't make it so three volunteers had to be shoved and hoisted over this railing to lighten the load enough for us to get to the right position.

The cable car docks by hanging in this spot on the sheer face of the mountain and the doors open on to this concrete platform. Scary! 
So long, car #2! The harbor in the distance is Puerto Plata. Ocean World is to the West/left in the photo. 


 It was so beautiful and chilly at the top.

There were many paths winding through the forest. The plant life was amazing. 

Lunch in Luperon. No, son, this is how you drink a gigantic beer. Everyone says boat kids are more mature and we're setting out to prove it. 

This sign says we were at La Isabela. Everything was in Spanish but this we totally understood. 

Under the thatch roof is the site of Columbus' house. It's pretty amazing to set foot there and look out over the protected bay and imagine the boats anchored there hundreds of years ago. Although there were many negative repercussions tied to the landfalls during this time, it's hard not to be in awe of these relatively small ships voyaging into the unknown during the age of discovery. 

What's left of the walls. 

This was the site of the store house. 

His real name was Cristobal Colon. I learned that in 7th grade Spanish class. 

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