Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Concho Ride in Luperon!

When I realized that Kathy, my Facebook friend, owned Putula's Bar & Grill in Luperon I knew that I had to contact her to book a concho tour.  Putula's is located near the marina,  caters to both locals and cruisers, and puts together concho tours of the area.  After several e-mails back and forth, Kathy was able to accommodate our schedule and put together a ride to La Isabella.  We looked forward to meeting Kathy, her husband Johnny, and other folks living in Luperon or visiting on their boat.

The morning started with boarding the local "Javilla Tours" bus outside our resort and heading to Imbert, a small town about 20 minutes away.  Once in Imbert, we met Kathy & Johnny at the gas station across the street to hop on the conchos.  Ken was my driver, and the kids each had their own driver.  It took Ken a few minutes to get used to riding the local concho, which had gears that worked in the opposite direction of an American motorbike.  Luckily, he got the hang of it before he had to start dodging cattle!

We headed to Luperon, about 15 minutes away, to meet the other folks at Putula's.  The ride to Putula's was beautiful, with hills and winding roads ... we were in the country.  It felt so good to be back on a motorbike!

Once at Putula's, we had a few minutes to meet a few folks before getting back on the bikes for another 20 minute ride.  There were about 30 people riding, and Kathy said they were there to "meet the new cruisers" ... wow!

Pictures don't show how pretty of a drive we had through the hills ... beautiful!

Sharing the road.  At one point turned a corner and had cows running right towards us!

La Isabella beach ahead ... wish my camera would have cooperated when were still on the hill.  As I looked down to my left, there was a little white church (the first church built during the days of Columbus) that overlooked the water ... it was beautiful.  Can't believe I didn't get a photo!

We made it!

What a beautiful place to make new friends and cool off!

We pulled together the tables & chairs and chatted with some great folks while enjoying Presidente beer (do you see a theme in these DR posts) and a lunch of grilled chicken, beans and rice ... a very common dish that we had quite a bit during our vacation, but very tasty!

We met a really nice cruising couple from Bogalusa, LA (where our son-in-law's family is from) and their visiting friend that has a boat around Pensacola, FL ... but from New Orleans, LA.  Another woman sailed from Thibodaux, LA ... is it a small world or what?!  Then there was the couple that had recently sailed from South Africa ... so many great stories. We also met several other folks from the US ... some were cruisers and some had purchased property in Luperon and are now living there.    
A few of the cruisers had only been in the area for a few weeks, while others had sailed to Luperon temporarily to be in a hurricane hole ... only to still be around years later.  It seems Luperon has a way of keeping cruisers around ... they love it!  Everyone was extremely nice and they all said the same thing about cruising ... you're gonna love it!  They were really helpful with some of our questions and said that as long as we're self-sufficient and handy (Ken is), we'll be fine.  They assured us that our 30 footer was big enough to make it to Luperon.  Since we've yet to experience a night passage, we asked how many it takes to get to Luperon.  The couple from Bogalusa had only done one other night passage before their second night passage to Luperon ... making their way from the Bahamas and island hopping.  That made us feel a little better!

Kathy and Johnny, the owners of Putula's, were amazing!  Kathy is one of those cruisers that sailed to Luperon to avoid bad weather, and never left.  She sailed to Luperon about 3 years ago and loved the island.  She's made Luperon her home and recently got hitched to Johnny!  Below is a pic of me with Kathy & Johnny ....

The kids really seemed to enjoy the day, and the cruising conversation too.

After lunch and a few beers, we all headed into the water to cool off for a while before heading back to Putula's.  What a great day!  If you're ever in the Dominican Republic, I highly recommend that you contact Putula's.  I hear they have fantastic food, and you've gotta take a concho tour!

Thanks so much Kat & Johnny for a great time!  

Hasta luego ... until then.  Mid-Life Cruising!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cabarete, Kite Surfing Everywhere!

Our first view of Kite Beach ... it awaits!

After white-water rafting the day before (post coming soon - my daughter has all those pics), we decided to take it easy today and visit Cabarete.  Cabarete is a beach town that is known for having a hippie vibe and more importantly ... kite surfing!  With great conditions for the sport, Cabarete is the place for annual competitions, training, and for trying out new equipment.  In fact, it seems to be a great place to buy "last year's" gear.

About an hour east of our resort, we needed transportation.  We weren't sure, but it seemed that the local "Javilla Tours" bus wouldn't take us there and we'd need to really live like a local and take the guagua.  The guagua is simply a minivan, and a popular mode of transportation for the locals.  We grabbed the first guagua right outside of our resort, which took us to downtown Puerto Plata.  We were the only folks on the guagua, but from our experiences in Mexico ... we knew we were lucky. 

After being dropped off, we were immediately approached by a guy speaking Spanish and waiving us into another guagua.  I wanted to know where we were going before getting on, but the rest of the family piled in before I could say anything.  I reluctantly stepped into the van .. hoping we'd wind up in the right place.  We arrived in Cabarete, but we weren't the only folks this time.  I was lucky and grabbed a seat right by the sliding door, which never closed and allowed some ventilation.  The rest of the family ... not so lucky.  They were wedged in the back of the van, and things got tighter and tighter.  I couldn't help but chuckle as we picked up number 20-something ... I'm not joking!  At one point, there were guys standing in the doorway, holding on and hanging out of the van.  I knew our kids were probably cursing us, and wondering what the heck we've dragged them into.  Yep, I had to remind them that we were on an "adventure"!  Anyway, they were good sports and we never felt unsafe .. just cramped!  Heck, it was about a dollar a person each way versus the cab fair of $50 bucks each way.  I think the "adventure" was well worth the savings!

As we unfolded out of the guagua, the picture above was one of our first views of the Cabarete beach ... looked good to me!  I really love this picture ... it provides a peek of the beach, along with surfing shops and of course, the "concho" (motorbike).  If you didn't read my first post about the Dominican Republic, you may not know that conchos are everywhere!  Below is the view of the main street.

Just as conchos are all over the road, kiteboards are all over the beach of Cabarete.  When we walked onto the beach, it was beautiful .. a sky full of colorful kites, but so quiet!  The beach and the water were also pretty ... much nicer than at our resort.

Along the beach there are all sorts of restaurants and bars, so we grabbed a chair and ordered a few Presidente beers.  I bet this place is really cool at night too!

We watched the kiteboards and windsurfers do their thing, and we wished we could take lessons.  Ken talked to one of the many trainers and learned that we'd need at least six hours.  Looks like we'll have to wait till we're living on our boat to have that kinda time!  I really don't think that I'd need six hours to learn.  The first time I tried to get up on water skis as a child ... got right up.  Wakeboarding ... got up the first try after watching Ken and another guy try over and over again without success.  Surfing, kiteboarding and/or windsurfing ... I gotta try it!

Some of the folks on the water were just learning, and others were obviously experienced.  It was fun watching kitesurfers being pulled across the water .. and off the water!  We spent the day relaxing, cooling off in the water, and drinking more beer.  Before we knew it, it was guagua time!  The ride back wasn't quite as cramped, but we promised the kids that the "Travilla Tours" bus would get us to everywhere else we needed to go.

 While we really enjoyed our visit to Cabarete, I will say that the local vendors were more than annoying.  While they were extremely nice and polite, they came buy every 10 minutes!  They must work for a company, because they had the same shirts on, the same briefcase, and the same souvenirs to sell.  We know that they're just trying to make a living, so we were always polite ... but it was non-stop.  The area seemed more "touristy" than we'd imagined, and therefore a bit pricier too.  However, I think Cabarete is well worth the visit if you're in the Dominican Republic.

The next day ... concho riding in Luperon with locals and cruisers ... stay tuned!

Hasta luego ... until then.  Mid-Life Cruising!
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