A September 2002 trip
to Samana by donnaparadise
Quote: Two-day trip from Puerto Plata to Samana.
In the early morning, I sallied along the coastal highway that winds its way through many small towns easterly on the north coast. This is the route one takes to another paradise beach off the beaten track, Playa Grande. This road goes from Puerto Plata to Samana and is absolutely breathtaking in its beauty.
Halfway to Samana are two towns right on the water's edge, Riu Boba and its adjacent Playa Boba. Playa Boba is where the Riu Boba meets the ocean and becomes the beach. Along the river, people live there in houses on very high stilts, which protect them from overflow once the torrential rains come -- anytime now! Playa Boba is seven kilometers of the most beautiful beach, with an ocean that was, on the days I passed, wilder than anything I had ever seen. A truly remarkable sight. On both sides of the road are large coconut trees, ferns and other greenery that almost blocks the sun. Stopping there is a must. Along with feasting on their chicken and yucca and half a quart of orange juice, as a quick lunch.
I arrived in Samana around noon and found the hotel I thought I wanted to stay in, but I changed my mind quickly. It was on the Malecon, a name given the waterfront road that passes through most of the towns. I've been to the Malecon in Pueto Plata, Cuba, Santo Domingo, and now Samana. The hotel was pretty beat-up, and just at that time, a guy came along on a motorcycle who spoke perfect English. These guys are unofficial guides in that they are freelance. They catch tourists, lead them to particular places or hotels or restaurants, and get a commission from the establishment that the tourist does business with. That is how they make their livings.
He led me to a wonderful hotel, albeit several miles out of town on a very, very, very bad road!!! El Tambora -- the drum -- was a collection of buildings that looked like houses and had anywhere from one to four apartments in them, either facing the ocean or pool. A beautiful place nestled in the midst of mature coconut trees, with several pools and a jacuzzi, all kept at bath temperature.
At the end of the footpath is the ocean and a lovely, small beach, peppered with coconut trees, swaying with the breeze that wafts through the bay. The beach is skirted with rocks and trees, and there are wonderful rock formations in the water that the water crashes against at soothing intervals. Now to find a chair under a tree and catch up on my dreamtime! But first, the 'tour guide' took me to a boat that goes to the Cayo Levantado, where apparently, the original Bacardi Island commercial was filmed. We take a motor boat 15 minutes across the water to an island that has five -- count 'em -- five of the most spectacular beaches I have ever seen! The sand is like sugar, and there are plenty of chairs to rent under the coconut trees. And the scenery! One looks right out on the ocean, through formations of lava-type rocks that the waves crash and roll against incessantly. Once there, everyone disembarks and walks for a bit.
The young boy, Manuel, said it was a five-minute walk, but that is Dominican minutes. You and I call it 15! We go into the bush, follow along a path which goes up, way up, way, way up! We meander through the brush, using several protruding roots to hoist our way up and over the 'mountain', until we finally start the descent to another breathtaking view of a park-like setting with more beaches.
Off to the farthest end, and notice that as we settle in, we are on a peninsula, and directly to the back of us is yet one more lovely beach, similar in texture but so different in vista and force of breeze. We opt to stay on the rocky, breezy side. No sooner do we park than along comes someone offering cool beer and soft drinks. The little boy settles in as well, because he is 'ours' for the day. He knows all about the island and tells us about lunch! He runs to get it for us and returns with an order each of fresh langostinos, rice, salad, and an order of fresh-caught grilled shrimp, rice, and salad.
Do I seem to talk about food a lot? It's only because the flavours and choices, although not McDonalds, leave you moaning and groaning and about bring tears to your eyes, it is all so good and fresh and good for me. After all, isn't fish brain food? A little later, Manuel runs for pina coladas in the pineapple -- mine without alcohol, but no less wonderful going down.
At the end of the day, the boat picks us up, and we head back to the hotel for one last dip in the heated pool and dress for dinner, and we're off exploring for a local diner. We went to the town of Samana and found a restaurant that specialized in local food, and after having eaten dinner, we took a long, leisurely walk along the Malecon before heading back.
I mentioned before that the roads are very bad along this stretch, because the government is putting all its energies and money into building an airport not far away. Once the airport is built, they will concentrate on the road to it. Right now, I suppose, they are concentrating the team on the building of the runway. First thing's first, eh?
When leaving the hotel to go out for dinner, I noticed a flat tire. This is the third tire in about as many months. One goes through a lot of tires here. You usually try to repair a flat a couple of times, and then you just give up and buy another one for about $30. We were just about to turn back and call someone in the morning when a guy comes by, asks us what our problem is, asks to open the trunk, and commences to change the tire without so much as a "How do you do?", for $3! Glad I didn't have to get dirty! Tuesday, we spent the day at the beach at the hotel, and then in the afternoon, we went into town to look for a "taller", or tire shop. They replaced the tire and replaced it on the car for about $30.Cdn. and seven minutes, tops!
A few decades ago, there was a push to develop the area, and a bridge was built from the top of one of the hills to one of the islands and then onto another one. Political will changed, and an attempt to build a restaurant on one of the islands was stopped. There is a footbridge right across the bay in front of the Malecon, and it touches both islands. It starts at the top of the hill, goes down and across to the second island, and then it comes back. It is called the 'Bridge to Nowhere'. Quite a hike, but worth it for the photo opportunities! It was a great jaunt, and the view from there was outstanding. We walked along the Malecon and took some pictures. Interspersed at various intervals are these towers that go about 20 feet off the ground. There is a spiral staircase that leads to the top, whereby people can climb up for a better view for pictures. They think of everything.
Later, we had dinner back at the hotel and watched the show and did some dancing. It was a wonderful trip, and only 4.5 hours back to Puerto Plata! Beyond description really! I have lots of pictures and beautiful memories. The views on the island were so breathtakingly beautiful that I felt the experience of true JOY!!! I am not embarrassed to admit that I cried with the sheer emotion of the moment and with gratitude at having the opportunity and privilege of being here and being able to truly feel how wonderfully my spirit is enhanced and soothed in this truly wonderously spiritual and perfect place.
There have been several 'challenges' and 'opportunites for growth' living in the Dominican Republic; however, nowhere have I felt so totally connected to who I am than here. I am constantly amazed at everything I see, the people I meet, the places I go, and most of all, how I feel when I am here. I hope you can catch some of the flavour and one day visit the beautiful Dominican Republic.