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Published: August 6th 2007
We boarded the 8am bus out of Santiago and on to Sosua. We liked Santiago with its big city allure and then not, a kind of big little city feel. The intention was to spend a few hours at Sosua and then gua-gua to Rio San Juan. When we disembarked after two hours, we were met by a taxi driver who attempted to hussle us away from Sosua and on to the ´touristy´areas of Puerto Plata and Cabarete. "Only Dominicanos, nothing to see here", he said. Shanna explained that we were headed to Rio San Juan and since Caribe Tours didn´t do that leg we would take a gua-gua. "No good. Must take 4 gua-guas. I take you drive around and then Rio San Juan for special price - seventeen dolares". We thought it was way too much and luckily we spotted an internet cafe to blame and we headed there.
After an hour in the cafe we asked the attendant how to get to Rio San Juan. She said to hail a gua-gua on the other side of the road and it would take us directly. And that´s how we got our first gua-gua ride. And a good ride
(M) ack Truck
We have passed plenty of these in each town and on the highway to our destinations. Most of them were brand new, this one was struck by the Mmms of time
it was. The bus wasn´t over-crowded and the driver didn´t drive like a maniac all the time
. We past Puerto Plata and Caberete and had flashbacks about St. Maarten and its developments. Serious money is being invested in tourist facilities in these areas.
We had a seamless gua-gua transfer just after Caberete and then went on straight to Rio San Juan. We arrived to a small, quaint but lively pueblo with only a few streets. The gua-gua took us straight to our next home for the night - the enchanting waterside Hotel Bahia Blanca. There we met an older, charming and petite Frenchman named Gaston and Shanna took care of business in French. In no time we had keys to a delightful little seaview room with HOT WATER.
Lunch was at D´Franks - ´pescado con vapor i pulpo´with a side of ´plantanos´and, claro, jugos naturales. Across from the restaurant was the Lagoon Gri Gri which meanders thru healthy mangrove swamps and is home to thousands of egrets. For USD 25, we could have had a boat ride thru the lagoon but we had come to Rio San Juan to dive. After looking and asking around a bit, we
found that Gri Gri divers, quite unfortunately, had packed up and left and so we were dead in the water. And so, much to our displeasure (not)
, we were forced to wander the beaches and gaze mesmerized at the egrets coming home at 6pm to fee their young. We dodged pesky mosquitos and watched youngsters swimming among fishing boats in the picturesque lagoon. In total, it was the most relaxing afternoon we had spent in the Dominican Republic.
As night fell, we realized that the blackout we had met when we checked in at 3pm was still in force. Some places had generators running and music playing and it seemed like most of the 6,000 residents were out and about. And so we strolled the dimly lit streets and said "buenas" to the little old ladies on their porches before we saw lights in an internet cafe. We couldn´t resist and when the cafe closed its doors at 8pm, we were virtually ejected. Oh, and there was still
a blackout but now compounded by rain and thunder and lightning which drew jagged whitish-silver lines in the dark sky and was close enough to make us panic.
thru the rain in the dark streets of an unfamiliar neighbourhood dodging passing cars and motoconchos, side-stepping the odd, massive pothole and hiding everything metal. What a sight it was to behold when we went around the final bend to see the street lights come on and our delightful Bahia Blanca all aglow.
A hot water bath would cure the chills from being soaking wet and send us packing off to bed with thoughts of the four-and-a-half hour bus ride tomorrow from Rio San Juan - way up north - to Baharona - way down south. 😊
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