Tuesday, September 01, 2009

South & West

One of the areas I am not familiar with is the southwest of the country. I took a 2-day excursion to try and change that. You know how it is when you plan a trip and people commit, only to back out at the last minute. Well, Ernest Montgomery and I pressed on in search of adventure. And that is exactly what we found.

Over the past couple of weeks some regular readers of the blog have gone to Barahona, and parts south of there. And they came back with some great tales. Some of the information was very reluctantly shared with me. As they didn't want me to blab everything on the blog.

We drove about 3 hours (with a few stops along the way) to get to Barahona. Once there we decided to look for a place to stay. The options are not nearly as vast as in other regions of the country. We checked out the Hotel Costa Larimar and the Hotel Gurocaya (can't remember the spelling). The first hotel was decent and they had several plans that go from $100 - 150 (depending on meal plans). The second hotel reminded us of the hotel in the movie The Shining. Huge and dilapidated. But we found a place called the Gran Barahona. It was clean, had hot water and air conditioning and was only about $38 per night. It is also walking distance to the Malecon and all the bars and restaurants. We went searching for a pool hall and soon found one. Played some pool, drank a few Presidente's and then decided to see what the local nightlife was like. Found a club called Lotus, located in the town center. It was packed, so we sat and hang out at the park right in front. Nice.

The next morning we started driving south. Little did we know that there are no ATMs in any town south of Barahona. At least according to all the locals we asked. There was also very intermittent cell phone reception. You drive up a mountain and a signal would be strong and a minute later no service. Internet service is also something very hit and miss.

We stopped at San Rafael, Paraiso, Los Patos, Enriquillo, Lake Oviedo and finally Pedernales, which is on the border with Haiti. Lake Oviedo is part of the Jaragua National Park. There are boat tours that take you to 23 islands and show you the iguanas and other wildlife native to the Dominican Republic. The drive from Barahona to Pedernales is about 2.5 hours. We got to Pedernales just as the sun was setting. So we really did not see much. We tried to look for an internet cafe to see if there was a hotel where we could stay. Could not find anything. Then we thought, fuck it, let's just drive back to Barahona. And we did.

On the drive to Pedernales we looked at several hotels that were just off the highway. One was the Playa Azul Hotel (no website), which is where we ended up staying on our drive back from Pedernales. We also checked out the Casa Bonita, which looks exactly like its photos. But it is a little out of the way as it is sitting on the side of a mountain up a gravel road. The decor, rooms and views are great. Definitely for those looking for something nice.

We chose Playa Azul, and I am glad we did. It is owned by a couple of Dominican and French descent. This place sits right on a cliff overlooking the ocean. It has its own private beach, swimming pool, and these great bungalows. You can also get a great massage for $12 (half-hour) right by the ocean. Nothing fancy, but clean, nice and can't beat the location. Single occupancy is about $55, and double is $70 per night, including breakfast. I would definitely stay there again.

Another reason I went was to find this gay guy in the town of Los Patos. Some friends went down and met a guy who they could not stop raving about. He took them to his home, then out on a bar crawl and introduced them to the local guys. It was like pulling teeth to get the information from them. But I am so glad they relented, after I promised not to reveal too much. They couldn't remember his name but gave me a description and told me he is gay and everyone knows him. Not really much to go on. We went to Los Patos on Sunday and it was packed. I didn't think it would have any chance in finding him. We decided to go back on Monday to give it one more try. As we pull up to the park, I decided to ask the guy who watches the car. I told him what I knew and he immediately said yeah, I know him. Proceeded to take me directly to him and the rest is history. I too, love him. Nice, open and he is out and proud, in this small town.

Ernest and I had decided we needed to stay an extra night. But we knew we shouldn't. I really needed to get back to Santo Domingo, as did he. After spending 6 hours hanging out with him I knew that if we didn't leave then, we probably would never leave. Though we didn't want to, we finally left and drove back to Barahona to look for the internet and an ATM, for the drive back to Santo Domingo. And that is when we decided to go back next week.

I have some more photos to download. But in the meantime, here is a picture from a photo shoot Ernest did on the beach.


Derek said...

Wow Anthony. After this next trip I plan to do a longer trip and go out into the countryside. I am so hyped about my next visit in several weeks.

Anonymous said...

A cow? Is that all you have to show us? A cow?

Diandra said...

Alright Ms Ponce De Leon!! That all sounds well and good and press release-ish.... Now spill the T!! And show some pics of the male population, and not Bessie the COW!! See you real soon!!

Anonymous said...

LOL..it's not just a cow..it's a cow and a wet T shirt. But now that you know what to do and where to go next time..get some interesting pictures.They don't have to be all wet T shirts..

Anonymous said...

is this a picture of a local in his wet t-shirt?

Anonymous said...

thanks for info ... toni, when is carnivale, man

Anonymous said...

Well done, Anthony and Ernest. I'm really glad you made it all the way to Pedernales. Isn't the coastal scenery spectacular? I hope you run into LeBron and Kobe at VIP on your return to Barahona. We'd be interestd to hear your opinion (LOL).

And folks, those cattle are dangerous. They aren't nearly as traffic-savvy as your North American variety. We were also almost assaulted by a herd of goats that bounded in front of us while we were doing 50+. Scary!

Good luck on your next safari.

George in SF.

La Potra said...

Easy girls, pic/vid after the jump, he's not gonna let us down :)

Gringonito said...

its not worth it to get lost and met the guy in the wet t-shirt. well, its big but cmmon, dominicans have that size or bigger