Monday, July 26, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

This morning we were up early to walk on the beach. It was overcast but beautiful none the less. The sand on the beach isn’t at all like the sand on the south side of the island. There, the sand is white and isn’t sand at all but is completely made up of small bits of crushed coral, sea shells, etc. Here on the Atlantic side of the island the sand is brown and looks like crushed rock, the kind of sand I would buy at the hardware store to mix into my cement.

Here at the Barcel√≥ hotel all of our meals are included in the room price. We can eat at the buffet or make a reservation at either of the two other restaurants and have our meals. We’ve chosen to eat at the buffet each meal and there is a ton of food to choose from. For the most part it is great. Once and a while we select something and find out that is either isn’t what we thought it was or it is what we thought it was but it is just bad. Like this morning Jared decided to have the scrambled eggs ranchero style. It’s one of his favorites. But when he got back to the table and started to eat he didn’t like them at all. So he ate some fruit and other things he selected. Then he decided to try the scrambled eggs again. That is when he exclaimed to us all, “No, they’re still just as bad as before.”

Our big outing today was “27 Charcos” (27 Cascades). This is an adventure Hna. Johnson and I have heard about for the past year and we’ve looked forward to with anticipation. However some of our anticipation has been mixed with a lot of anxiety. Hna. Johnson read some reports on the internet by couples that went to “27 Charcos” and found it very difficult and dangerous! Ever since then it has taken us some coxing and reassuring to convince Hna. Johnson that she would be able to handle the rigorous climbing, swimming and cliff jumping.

We only did the first 7 of the 27 waterfalls/cascades today. We had our choice to do the first 7 or the first 15 or all “27 Charcos”. But 7 was plenty for us, there was no way we were going to make it to all 27. The “27 Charcos Adventure” consists of hiking ¾ of a mile near the base of the first falls then swimming the rest of the way to the falls/cascade. Next we had to climb up the rocks right through the falls to reach the top. The climbing part was very difficult; our guides had to help a lot. One guide stayed below to push and the other was above pulling until we made it all the way to the top.

There were a couple of spots that were so difficult that they required a third and fourth man to help us up. These extra guides stayed at the same falls all day helping each tour group up. Our two guides, Victor and Alfredo, stayed with us throughout the adventure. They were a great help, we couldn’t have done it without them.

As our guides lifted, pulled and pushed us up the slippery rocks they called Hna. Johnson by the Spanish version of Mama which is “Mami” pronounced “Mommy”. They would say things like… “You can do it Mommy, pull Mommy, lift your feet Mommy, lean back Mommy, a little higher Mommy, etc. My moniker was the Spanish word for Papa which is “Papi” pronounced “Poppy”. It was very comical as they called out instructions (comical is an understatement) as they struggled to get us up the 7 falls/cascades.

It took us an hour but we finally made it to the 7th Fall/Cascade safe and sound. We were very exhilarated at our accomplishment. Well… we were bruised, tired and sore too but our feeling of elation far outweighed the difficulties of the hike/climb.

Once at the 7th fall we were only half way done. Now we had to go back but the return trip was much easier and a whole lot funner. Each fall/cascade could be slid down like a water park slide only the slide was created by Heavenly Father!

We had a blast coming back down. Sliding and jumping was great. I was really proud of Hna. Johnson. One of the falls had no natural slide and we were all required to jump from the cliff, between 15 to 20 feet. Fifteen feet isn’t very far but it is 14 feet higher than Hna. Johnson has ever jumped from a cliff before! The guide was right beside her, holding her hand and reassuring her as she prepared herself for the plunge. I asked her how she had the courage to jump. She explained that she really had no choice; there was no other way down.

The highlight of trip to Puerta Plata was “27 Charcos”. All in all it was very fun in spite of the hard work and danger. After lunch we were back on the beach at the hotel. Jared and I went snorkeling and Hna. Johnson & Tere lounged on beach chairs. But this time a storm was brewing. There were high winds, high surf and the visibility underwater was only 18 inches. We didn’t last very long on the beach.

When the storm hit us the heavy, heavy rain only lasted a few minutes and then it sprinkled off and on the rest of the afternoon and into the evening. It put a damper on our outdoor activities but we played games in our hotel room until midnight. It was fun.

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