Today is May 6th, 2018. I am currently traveling through the Dominican Republic as part of my goal to travel the world.
I must resist the urge to write daily given the happenings and adventures I constantly encounter. My last few days in Las Galeras are no exception. Although I have planned to stay five nights here in Las Galeras, I have never been the type to procrastinate and my first goal was to find out how I would be getting to my next destination which was Cabarete. After finding little information via the internet, I decided to head up to Samana City to do my own reconnaissance mission. It took only a 2.2 km walk to the center of town to find the cheap public transportation that would get me there. There was an old shack by the central beach where camionetas (vans) called gua-gua’s went to Samana City every half an hour for only $100 DPO ($2 USD). My first impression of the gua-gua was skewed because it turned out to be a modern large air-conditioned van with plenty of leg room. The ride itself was extremely slow (about 15 mph) as the driver was attempting to pick up more passengers. However, the scenery along the way can only be described as majestic as crystal blue beaches gave way to mangrove forests. I finally reached Samana and the ride ended at the gua-gua parking lot which was a mix of broken down camionetas and street vendors selling everything from bath sponges to packs of gum. My original plan was to walk back to the Caribe Tours bus station but before I could get there I saw a more worn-down bus station that advertised cheap buses from Samana to Santo Domingo. Figuring that they could at least point me in the right direction, I went and asked the lady in the main office. It turns out that this was the bus station that had the one bus that would get me to Cabarete on the way to Puerto Plata. The bus itself was a big blue bus that left daily at 2pm with the trip taking 3 hours. Having that information immediately put my mind at ease and I went to explore Samana. To it’s credit, Samana was a clean city with modern buildings that had everything Las Galeras was missing. There were plenty of restaurants and there was also a nice boardwalk along the pier with plenty of benches and scenic outlooks. After about an hour of walking around, I decided it was time to head back to Las Galeras. Rather than making the walk back to the original drop off point, I figured that I would wait along the main road for a gua-gua to pass and hop on. That turned out to be a bad plan, as only two vans passed in an hour of waiting and both happened to be filled. It was only after it began to rain that I bit the bullet and paid $20 DPO (.40 cents) to have a moto take me to the gua-gua stop. Unfortunately, the ride back provided me a more “authentic” gua-gua experience as I was crammed in the back of a cattle car with 6 other people and several bags and boxes. Nevertheless, I made it back to Las Galeras having accomplished my mission.
Knowing that I needed to pace myself, yesterday I didn’t really plan to do much. Even if I wanted to go to the beach, there were scattered thunderstorms throughout the day that would dampen the experience. I woke up and was did several Spanish exercises on my computer. I also decided to try the breakfast that the hostel served for $250 DPO ($5 USD). It turned out to be a good decision because it was a 5-course meal that included fruit, cheese, fried eggs, toast, yogurt, crepes, and passion fruit juice. After eating all of that, I had no choice but to retire to my bungalow and take a siesta. Later that day, I went to visit the only cajero automatico in Las Galeras. Expecting to be able to withdraw 10,000 DPO ($200 USD), I was disappointed to find that the daily withdraw limit was $2000 DPO ($40 USD). Given that it cost around $8 in fees to get money internationally, it meant that I would have to make another trip to the ATM before I got to Cabarete. After eating at the local comedor for the third night in a row, I had another issue upon my return to the hotel. After being in Las Galeras for three days, I accepted the fact that a trip from the center of town to the hotel would cost me $50 DPO ($1 USD) via a moto. I had gotten complacent and stopped asking the drivers for the price before hopping on. After leaving the comedor, I assumed that anyone that was cruising along the streets of the central area was a moto driver. I ended up flagging down the first one I saw and hopped on without asking for the price. After making the 2 km trip, I got off and gave him $50 DPO ($1 USD). However, he wanted $100 DPO ($2 USD) for the trip. While it would have been easy to give him another dollar, I’ve learned in these situations that if you let one person take advantage of you then it will be easier for others to follow. I told him that I would only give him the $50 DPO ($1 USD) for the ride as that was the “official” rate amongst the drivers for the trip. The owners of the hotel ended up backing me up on that. After about 10 minutes of arguing, I gave him an ultimatum. I told him to either take the $50 DPO ($1 USD) or he would get nothing, and he could call the police. It was only after I was almost back to my room that he realized I was serious and begrudgingly took the money. Another day down with another lesson learned…………