Cheese and Big Sea Bugs
Trip Start Sep 05, 2009
4Trip End Sep 13, 2009
We spent most of the first day walking around Santo Domingo. We had a nice little hotel not far from the Zona Colonial, whose Playa Central has (supposedly) the oldest church in the Americas. We walked along the Malecon, which is the walkway along the ocean where most of the ritzy hotels are. The view is great, but there's not much else to the Malecon aside from the gaping entrances of the resort hotels, and crossing the road to the ocean side is taking your life into your own hands. We spent a lot of time wandering down the pedestrian strip of the Zona Colonial, where vendors sell their plastic junk and men play bouts of chess and dominoes on small tables in the middle of the road
After a sweaty day walking around the city, we caught a couple of buses to Bayahibe, on the coast to the east of SD. When we arrived, a painter who runs a colorful art "compound" in the middle of town offered to help us find a place to stay. I'm usually wary of such offers, especially since I'm often traveling alone. But funny enough, the guy, Jean, was speaking French, so Shen was happy for the chance to dust off that part of his brain. Jean kept trying to speak to me in French, and I'd say (in Spanish), "I don't speak French, I speak Spanish." So he'd repeat himself to me in Spanish, VERY LOUD AND VERY SLOW. I think he thought that if I couldn't speak French, I probably just wasn't all that bright! So Jean found us a room with a really nice couple, very cheap and right by our Scuba center. To get to our room, we walked through their lush tropical garden, ducking lines of drying clothes along the path.
Although Bayahibe is not terribly remote, we had a hard time finding food. We've both been excited for some beans and rice, but we have yet to see a bean here
In the morning we got up early to meet our dive boat. It was a beautiful day, and our company had a pretty luxurious diveboat (compared to the tin cans I'm used to). The ride out to the site was great - I enjoyed seeing the little shacks and streets of Bayahibe from the water, the sun was shining and of course the water was beautiful. Unfortunately, once we got down, the visibility was awful. I would love to go back with better vis, because the coral was amazing - very diverse, with huge fan corals and sponges. I've never seen such large coral formations. There was also a good diversity of fish, if not abundance. We also saw a ray and a pair of lobster. The water was warm, with no current or surge, so it was nice easy diving. Unfortunately Shen has been utterly spoiled by the fact that his first ocean dives were in Hawaii. When you think that diving is all about lava tubes and coming eyeball-to-eyeball with massive turtles, it's hard to get excited about a bunch of sponges and big sea bugs (as he calls lobster). But a day underwater is better than a day in the cube (duh!), so he had fun even if it wasn't Hawaii.
There's more to say but I'm totally spent, and the light is waning in the little Central Plaza where I'm writing. More to come about Jarabacoa!