Jurassic Hiking

Trip Start Sep 05, 2009
Trip End Sep 13, 2009

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Where I stayed
Plaza Central Hotel

Flag of Dominican Republic  ,
Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Our next stop, Jarabacoa, is a town in the mountains in the interior of the DR.  Although we both love the beach with every cell, we wanted to see the diversity of the country as well.   This required taking two local buses (guaguas) to arrive in SD by 4:30 for the last Express bus to Jarabacoa.  Given our respective experiences in Latin America, we thought it was a long shot, but the buses here have been unbelievably efficient.  As soon as we board a guagua, it takes off.  We hardly know what to do with all this time we're not spending on local tranport.

Although Jarabacoa is small, it felt chaotic, especially arriving at night.  I realized that this is partly because the main mode of transport in the DR is motorcycle, and they're incredibly noisy.  It seems like everyone has them, so there is a constant roar of motorcycles even in the smaller towns.  They even serve as the primary taxis - they're called "motoconchos." We've seen families of up to 5 squished onto a motorcycle, tooling around town (no helmets, of course).  Twice we've seen someone riding around with their dog perched in front of or behind them.  The noise is annoying, but it's a great solution in a country where many people probably can't afford a car.

We got a cheap hotel which, while basic and smelling faintly of garbage, overlooked the Central Plaza.  It was fun to watch the world of Jarabacoa go by from our bedroom window.  We had another dinner of cheesy-fried-something-or-other, put in earplugs to battle the incessant merengue outside our window, and got to bed early.

In the morning we took off for a waterfall that was about 7 kilometers (maybe 4.5 miles?) outside of town.  The motoconcho drivers couldn't believe that we would possibly want to walk such a distance.  It was hot and tiring, but we really enjoyed it.  The first part was on the busy paved road, which was less pleasant, but it soon turned to a quiet dirt road.  The road climbed up through the mountains, past houses ranging from shacks to what we guessed were second homes for the city folk.  I don't know if this is true statistically, but the DR seems much wealthier on average than Central America or many other parts of the Caribbean.  Many of the homes could pass for middle-class homes in the US.  I'm sure it's very different out in the campo, but near the larger towns that we visited, we didn't see a lot of extreme poverty.

Once we had climbed up and up through the hills, it was time to descend on a narrow trail to Salto Jimenoa Uno, one of three well-known waterfalls in the area.  We were impressed with the tourist infrastructure - they charge 100 pesos to get in (about $3), and the trail down is well-maintained.  There are signs along the way telling you what species of plants and animals to look for, etc. etc.  The trail is long and steep, so the wooden handrails are much appreciated. 

After maybe twenty minutes of knee-busting downhill walking, we finally descended into the canyon at the base of the waterfall.  Wow! It is amazing.  But I don't need to write about it - you've probably seen it! It's the spot where they filmed the opening scene of Jurassic Park.  It seems they played with perspective to make it look bigger in the movie, but it's still very impressive.  The waterfall is about 60 meters high (sorry about all the metric, it's what our guidebook uses).  It crashes into a small pool at the bottom, which is partially ringed by a sandy beach.  Beyond the beach are huge rock formations.  The canyon walls are the most impressive - sheer cliffs covered in ferns, vines, and clinging plants.  Truly beautiful.  We had a picnic at the base of the falls, then jumped in the pool.  The pool empties out into a narrow but powerful river that winds through the rocks.  The current from the pool into the body of the river is quite strong, so we had to be careful swimming.  It was super fun diving into the pool and swimming into the choppy waves created by the pounding of the water.  After splashing around for a bit, we scrambled around the rocks, read and napped in the canyon, then made the torturous hike back to the top.  After the long walk from town and the hike into and out of the canyon, I felt like we worked off some of that cheese!

We walked a short part of the way back and caught a ride in the back of a pick-up truck for the remainder.  We perched next to big bags of vegetables, and once we got into town, our driver made several stops to sell the bags.  It was a great way to get a tour of town.  After cruising through the side streets, he dropped us off just a few blocks from our hotel.

I really wish (as always) that we had more time, becaues I'd love to explore the interior a little more.  But our next stop is the north coast!
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yamilex on

es algo realmente increible y ermoso como quisiera estar ahy ahora para disfrutarlo como nunca extrano el estar alla

Juan on

I was there. It is totally an amazing place. We had a very good lunch at a local place, rice, beans, chicken, and salad. We took my sister there and she just loved it like me.

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