A quick trip to Jurassic Park

Published: April 27th 2006
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Back to school last Monday only to find that the kids didn't go back until Tuesday. Damn! An early start for no reason. Still, Syma and I used the time to do some lesson planning and sort through the piles of paper and worksheets that had accumulated in the school office so it wasn't a completely wasted morning.

The rest of the school week was pretty routine, i.e. blooming hard work. If nothing else on this trip, I've discovered on thing: I have no desire at all to be a teacher but I have total respect for anybody who is!

The temperature in Santo Domingo has been steadily rising over the past week, as has the humidity, but this isn't surprising because the rainy season is just around the corner. Unfortunately, because the mozzies are rampant - especially in this house, which seems to be lousy with them - we can't sleep with the windows open. This means a house full of grumpy, sweaty Betty's suffering from sleep deprivation. So to escape the heat, get a good night's sleep and to see a bit more of the country we decided to go away for the weekend and de-camp to
Jurassic Park? Jurassic Park? Jurassic Park?

On the way back from Las Terranas
Las Terranas on the Samana Peninsular, almost directly opposite Santo Domingo on the northern coast of the island.

The 5-hour bus journey to Las Terranas took us right across 'the interior' of the island and along a section of the northern coast and it was a very different landscape to the south coast we've seen on our two previous trips. Almost immediately north of Santo Domingo, the countryside becomes lush green and agricultural and as you get towards the centre of the island, it opens out into banana and cocoa plantations. The towns in this part of the country seem more prosperous than along the coast but whether this is due to money made from agriculture or money trickling down from the drug barons rumoured to live in luxury houses scattered among the hills, it's impossible to say. Beyond the plantations are huge, rolling hills and open areas scattered with primeval-looking ferns and the odd tree. It's not difficult to see why Steven Spielberg chose this area to film background for Jurassic Park.

Las Terranas itself used to be a tiny fishing village but has grown over recent years to cater for tourists, mainly from France and Germany. Although the 'town' is still tiny - basically one sandy road running along the back of the beach - the influx of Euros is very apparent in the number of chi-chi restaurants, bars and shops. Despite this, we managed to find a cheap, if very basic, hotel right on the beach. One thing I've noticed since getting here is how my expectations have changed - at home there is absolutely no way I'd have stayed somewhere like Hotel Papagayo, even for only £8 per night, but now it seems perfectly normal. The room was clean, there was a hot-water shower and mozzie nets at the windows. Not only that but the price included an American style pancake breakfast (a real treat after the pretty dreadful stuff we usually get at the guesthouse). So what if the bed was as hard as a wooden bench, the shower was a bit mouldy and the door didn't shut properly?

Unfortunately, the iffy weather had followed us from SD and we arrived to heavy skies and the odd spit of rain. This didn't bother us too much though because it gave us a legitimate excuse to have a long, lazy lunch without wasting
Here comes the rainy season...Here comes the rainy season...Here comes the rainy season...

Rain and stormclouds on the way back from Las Terranas
any beach-time. Unfortunately, the torrential downpour we woke up to on Sunday put the kibosh on any plans to top up our tans so it was a pretty typical British weekend by the seaside, even if we were looking out at the caribbean!


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