Thursday, May 6, 2010

Saturday, May 1, 2010

We had a wonderful breakfast or Pancakes, eggs, sausage, fruit and OJ. There were three different types of sourdough pancakes; Buttermilk, Blueberry with Almond and banana. We have some real good chefs in our group. Words can’t describe how good it all was.

After breakfast we headed up the hill for our hike to the top of the ridge that overlooks the President’s cabin. The walk up the hill is on a dirt road and very easy going even though it is all up hill. The view from the top of the ridge is beautiful of the small valley town of Manabao to the East. At the very top of the ridge our trek took us right through the middle of small cemetery. We didn’t come across a single head stone with a date older than 25 years. Most of the deceased had been buried there in just the last 10 years.

The “fun” part of the hike didn’t start until we headed back down the mountain. First we went through a cow pasture and that was easy. But then we headed almost straight down into the bottom of a ravine. It was very steep. For every one foot forward we dropped two feet down the hill. It was very slippery, some of the time our feet went out from under us and we would slide on our bottoms. It was very scary at time. When we finally got to the bottom of the ravine it wasn’t much better. Many times we had to climb 10 to 15 feet down slippery unstable rocks. But we finally made it back to the cabin safe and sound and all in one piece.

Back at the cabin we were all hot and sweaty. The President’s pool at the cabin was not clean so it wasn’t available to us. We all put on our swim suits for a dip in the river. The Jones’ found a great swimming hole and it was one of the high lights of our trip. The pool was deep and swift but calm in some places. I even put on my goggles and snorkel and swam against the current for about 5 minutes to get some exercise. It was refreshing and fun.

By 2:00pm we were all packed and ready to leave for the capital. Originally we had planned to stay until Sunday afternoon but we had a change in plans. Hna. Johnson and several others in our group had been bitten on the legs and arms by an insect the locals call “Maye”. In the White mountains of Arizona we call them “No-see-ums”. Everyone is hurting very badly. The bits cause redness, swelling, welts, itching and severe pain. Because everyone was in so much pain we decided that we didn’t want to stay for Sunday services in Jarabacoa as we originally planned.

Today is “May Day” in the Dominican Republic. It is a 4 day weekend, the Dominican “Labor Day”. Back in the capital everything closed at noon on Thursday and most businesses and all government agencies won’t reopen until Monday. As we drove back to the capital there were Dominicans enjoying their 4 day weekend everywhere. On the road out of the mountains there were huge gatherings of Dominicans at all of the favorite swimming holes along the various rivers we passed.

Another interesting side note; two weeks from tomorrow is Election Day in the Dominican Republic. As we drove home from the President’s cabin we passed parades of vehicles flying their favorite pundit’s pennants, banners and posters. I don’t know the names of the two largest political parties here but I do recognize their flag colors. The largest is the political party whose flags are “Purple and Gold” and next is the party whose flag is solid red. They were out in force today in every little town and village we drove though. They had their loud speakers turned up as high as they could go and the drummers were pounding away nonstop. Twice we were stopped by caravans of cars, trucks and motorcycles a hundred vehicles long honking and shouting through the narrow streets. Dominican political campaigns are very interesting to say the least.

On our drive back to the capital we stopped at a couple road side venders to see their offerings. The first was a road side rug maker. These colorful road side stands line the highway for miles. Every one of the rugs are made exactly the same by little old women tying strips of cloth in and through a fabric backing. The fabric backing is interesting too. It is made from the large discarded bags that rice is shipped in.

Next we stopped at the roadside stand of a flower grower. Hna. Johnson bought “Red Torch Ginger” (Alpinia Purpurat-Red), “Pink Heliconia” (Etlingera Elatior “Pink Torch Ginger”) and Red Heliconia (Wagneriana). She just couldn’t resist! But they are beautiful and a third the price had we bought them in the capital. No one should ever pass up a bargain like that.

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