Jane's Travel Blog

New Chapter: Explore the World


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A Tropical Hike to the Mountains

As much as we enjoy the ocean and the beach scene, we were missing the mountain hiking. Bob met Luis, a local man who grew up in nearby mountainous Limon area and agreed to take us for a day hike.

Luis arrived on a sunny morning and Bob and I hopped on the backs of the motos (two motorcycles) and we were headed east along the ocean road, then south into the mountains.

After sliding off the motos, and after stopping the vibration of my body, we began the hike to Cascada El Limón. It’s a popular tourist destination where most people ride horses or mules to the waterfall. We were determined to hike. Crossing the river many times kept our hiking boots and feet consistently wet. Every so often we paused, allowing a group of horse riders to pass.

Forty-five minutes later the falls were in site. I’m thinking, “Ok, nice, but what’s the fuss?” It turns out I was looking at the small falls. A bit further and  it becomes clear what all the hype is about–a beautiful moss covered mountainside with water cascading into a crystal clear pool. Nature knows what she’s doing. We soaked in the scene and were off.

Now our customized hike begins. Luis walks us to a barbed wire fence, pulls it up, and we crawl underneath to an overgrown trail on the mountainside. After crossing the river a few more times, the trail suddenly opens onto a spectacular tropical mountain meadow complete with roosters, pigs and palm trees. A small rustic home anchors the scene.

A warm drizzle starts to fall and cools us as we hike. The rain picks up.  First Luis gets us to hold up a dry palm leaf over our heads, but this eventually proves inadequate, and we are quickly following Luis to a nearby shelter made of sticks. We duck in and are greeted by three young men squatting on logs, also taking refuge from the rain.

I guessed they were working the farm, as one had an arm length machete that he intently sharpened as the rain fell. Luis and Bob were chatting with the men and I just smiled as my Spanish is still not up to par. It felt like it was going to be awhile, so I shared the cookies and potato chips I had for lunch and we all waiting out the rain.

The slowing of the rain cued us all at once to crawl out of the shelter and we went our separate ways. The young men to work the farm and us to continue hiking in the mountains.

The rain paused long enough for us to enjoy the rest of our lunch in another spectacular tropical meadow. Fueled and rested, we continued on and soon the rain returned. The next hour and a half offered up a consistent medium rain with an occasional ten minute downpour. It didn’t seem to be letting up, so we just kept hiking. The trails turned to mud. Our boots sometimes got sucked in up to the ankle and they really wanted to stay in the mud. It took an extra effort to bring your boot along with you. My hiking stick became essential to staying upright.

Oh yeah, now is a good time to tell you that I chose to wear white cotton pants. Needless to say, they are now a tan brown mix. (I just took them to the laundry after soaking them in bleach for 4 days. The woman at the laundry slowly shook her head no, and I dropped them in the trash.)

We made it out of the trail just as the rain stopped, thankfully with all our boots still on, and happily caught a bus to our motos and soon arrived home. I scrubbed our boots for a half hour, placed them in the sun to dry, and reflected on the day, adding it to our growing list of highly memorable hikes.

Another life lesson – Don’t hike in white pants.

 

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Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic

We have crossed the Atlantic again, landing in the Dominican Republic. We have settled in the somewhat sleepy town of Las Terrenas on the north side of the island.

In leaving Morocco, we had a day layover in Madrid, so we stopped by the Prado Museum for a calming stroll through master paintings. After a cozy stay at a fine hotel, we flew nine hours to Santo Domingo, DR.

We landed at night, so we missed out on the beautiful scenery as we were driven the two hours to Las Terrenas, our new home until mid April.

It’s a small beach town on a peninsula, so we can literally walk for miles in either direction along the beach, dipping our toes in the sea. Some days have a beautiful light breeze so it’s not too hot. On the hotter days, I’m in the water floating on the healing magic of the ocean.

We are negotiating our way through the town distinguishing between high priced tourist traps and cozy local gems. We always make a few mistakes, but quickly find our favs.

My first roadside vegetable stand experience seemed like a “find.” The friendly kind-eyed owner charmed me with his smile. I bought passion fruit, bananas, new honey, tomatoes, and papayas. He even flagged down one of the many “motos” ( a guy driving a motorcycle) and paid for my ride home. I walked into our bungalow glowing from the experience.

This feeling lasted all but a few minutes as I realized I paid 40 US dollars for my fruit and honey. We enjoyed every nibble of those bananas and other fruit. Lesson learned – ask the price. Better yet, have them write it down. I’m still not sure if I was “taken.” For all I know, passion fruit is pricey. I did get four. Having said that, I now ask the price, look for signs, and sadly I do have a bad feeling for “that” roadside stand and cross the street when I pass.

That small experience has NOT in any way tainted my experience in Las Terrenas. I’m loving the sea, enjoying the abundance of fruits and veggies, and exploring the cafes. I’ve also found a yoga class and walk 20 minutes on the ocean beach to get to it.

Bob and I are looking forward to many walks on the beach, and we are happy to be here. It was time to be back to the islands. There is just something about that surf.