Saturday, February 7, 2015

Bayahibe Bound

Just as expected, Casa de Campo offered up a beautiful refreshing sleep and we both felt ready to tackle various challenges in the morning.

On our list: find out if it's possible to get the bottom of the boat painted in the next couple of weeks, get a SIM card for our phone, call and/or visit the Dreams resort to get access sorted out for next week and get some pesos for our wallets.

Attached to the marina is a large boat yard with a travel lift that can lift our boat, so we went into the office and the long and short of it is that yes, we can indeed get the boat painted at a reasonable price and they could do it as early as next week. The only hitch is that we will have to find somewhere else to stay while the boat is in the yard. More on that later...

The pesos was easy as there are 5 different banks right at the marina, and it turns out they give a very competitive rate at 44.5 pesos per USD. The SIM card was going to be a bit more difficult since they were all out of them at the Claro kiosk so we put that one further down the list.

However, things then got a little more complicated since with no phone we couldn't call the Dreams resort and earlier emails had gone unreplied. A taxi ride to Bayahibe would cost $40 each way so we took a look at rental cars. Here's a good lesson learned: we did our research on the internet (free at the marina!) and found Avis had a car for $32/day. Avis is right at the marina (did I mention it is very full-service here?) so we went to the counter where the same car had a rate of $65. We pulled out the phone and did an online booking for the lower rate and the attendant promptly handed over the keys. For less than a one-way taxi ride we now had wheels so we took ourselves off to Bayahibe.

The road system here is very impressive.
And just like at home, accidents happen on slick rainy roads.
Last item on the list was to figure out our access to the resort for next week. With all the security that is set up around the resorts we couldn't just drive up and ask, so we ended up in the little town of Bayahibe where we found a tourism office. Funnily enough it turns out this is not really a tourism office as you and I would think of it, it was a sales office for the Dreams resort, and in exchange for 90 minutes of our time to listen to a sales pitch we would be given a free day pass, each. We are all set now to go and smile and nod at their presentation, which will include breakfast on Monday morning, and then from there we can work out the rest of our access for the remainder of the week. It will be so good to see Diane & Dave, Ron & Evelyn and Greg & Robin and I think we are in for some very good times!

Now we turned our attention to Bayahibe itself and some lunch. This used to be a sleepy little fishing town with no paved roads until a few years ago. The resorts have arrived and it is also used as a base for the day charter fleet that takes bus loads of tourists down to Saona for lunch, a snorkel and a rum or two. We wandered around the town turning away multiple enthusiastic requests to buy, visit or come see. Lunch was typical Dominican BBQ chicken and rice & beans and we checked out the anchorage and harbour with it's colourful bustle of tourism and working boats. And finally, we had a big win with finding a Claro kiosk tucked in the back of a mini market and we were able to get a SIM card in our phone so we can stay connected once we leave the marina.

Unloading the coconut boat; yes, those are bags of coconuts.
The town bay has a nasty sharp edge of rock, which has been concreted over to turn into a makeshift pier.
Definitely need to use a stern anchor when tied up, but there are numerous places we will be able to leave our dinghy.
These guys, stripped to their underwear, we're loading palm fronds onto this boat. Not sure where they are taking them.
Two of the much smaller buses - at home it think we might have called these pimp-mobiles, but here it is just high fashion.
Our explorations of Bayahibe turned up a thoroughly charming little town that calms down once the tour boats leave and I think our time here next week will be very pleasant. We have decided to bring the big boat down here and use the bay as home base since we have heard from other cruisers that it is comparatively a very safe anchorage.

With the afternoon winding down, we headed back to the marina, but decided to carry on down the highway to see what La Romana has to offer. This town is the sugar-cane capital of the DR and the vibe is completely different - busy, dirty, bustling. I think we will have to get out on foot to explore further but for now here's the view of the craziness out the car window.

Sugar cane train rumbling through town.
Dominicans are crazy about baseball and will play anywhere.
The roads were crazy busy and somewhere in the mix is a policeman directing traffic. Everyone followed along.
There are motoconchos everywhere, weaving in and out of traffic. We saw them with 3 people, carrying crazy loads, and lots with children like this.
This guy was having a "truckload sale" at the side of the road.
I thought it rather ironic he was parked under the HD television ad.
What a difference on the resort - all manicured and planted palm trees.