A Surprise Visit

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

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Where I stayed
Bahia Blanca

Flag of Dominican Republic  , María Trinidad Sánchez,
Thursday, September 10, 2009

After Shen's disappointing attempt at surfing Thursday morning, we decided to head to Cabrera, a relatively small town not far from Playa Grande.  Through my work with HSI, I know an English woman who lives there and runs Animal Balance, an NGO that brings veterinary services to island dogs around the world.  She does tremendous work, and her impact was quite apparent in Playa Grande, where the dogs are friendly, well-fed, and free of the myriad diseases that plague most developing-world beach dogs.  Since we didn't really have an itinerary ahead of time, I hadn't told her we were coming and I had no idea where she lived except "Cabrera." The town was not the tiny place that we had expected, so we thought we'd have no chance of finding her - but apparently expats can't hide as easily as they may sometimes wish! We had an awesome lunch (where I learned that they only use the term "habichuelas" for beans, which somewhat explains the blank stares when I asked for frijoles), and within minutes of asking the Comedor lady about Emma (a.k.a. la gringa que cuida a los perros), we were on a motoconcho heading to her house.  Surprise!!

I felt bad dropping in on her unannounced, but it was great to see her.  We knew we were at the right house when five dogs bounded out to greet us.  Emma arrived in Cabrera more than two years ago with virtually no Spanish, but within three weeks she had organized her first spay/neuter clinic, and now she works with all the local vets.  She had been living in SF, but she moved to the DR to decrease costs and allow her to work for Animal Balance full-time - a brilliant move.  She's really a force.  So we enjoyed a cold glass of water while catching up in her peaceful, tropical garden.

Emma also had some great recommendations for places to go, so after we left her house we guagua-ed to Laguna Dudu, an unfortunately named but really magical spot.  It's a natural pool set at the bottom of 30-40 foot cliffs, with vines and plants hanging down the cliff walls all the way to the water.  We were again impressed with the level of investment in tourism infrastructure.  One side of the pool has a concrete platform with a ladder going down to the water, and there are several rope swings.  When we arrived there were about a dozen locals drinking rum and playing in the water (not so sure about that combination, but...) The water was cool but not cold, perfectly clear, and a beautiful blue-green color.  We were told that Scuba divers had been unable to find the bottom of the pool.  It's not that wide across, but apparently it's just a straight shot down to who-knows-where.

Some of the locals were jumping from the high cliffs, and that is something that Shen just can't resist.  One of the guys, who actually lives in New Jersey, offered to go up with him.  It was funny, because clearly no one thought he would jump - after he walked away, there was a chorus of, "Look! The gringo is going up to the cliff! Snicker snicker snicker.." Shen is definitely not one to show off, but the poor expectations made it totally necessary, so he did a back flip off a 35-foot cliff.  The group made several comments about how the gringos never jump, they had never seen anything like that - and then gave him a round of applause when his head (safely) broke the surface.  I was a little indignant that I did not get the same reaction going off of the 6-foot rope swing.

After goodbyes all around, we headed back to town to watch the amazing sunset from our terrace, batido in hand.  Batidos are milkshakes made with fresh fruit - in this case, papaya - and they're the perfect antidote to a steamy tropical evening.
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Sylvia from NS on

We have been to Lagoona DuDu (thanks for the name!) and really enjoyed it. We were with a friend, Orlando, from Sosua, who took us on a day trip and also took us to Playa Diamond, only a few kms away, that has both ocean water and very blue, very cold water filtering in underground, supposedly from the Lagoona. It was really neat and we plan to return to the area on our trip this Feb/March 2010. Will definately look up the hotel on the water that you mention. Thanks for the great info.

jesshiggins on

Playa Diamond sounds awesome. If I get a chance to go back I'll have to check it out. Thanks - and have a great time on your next trip!

Bernardo on

Hola Jess,
Sounds like you had a GREAT time in the DR. We will be in the Cabrera and Rio San Jaun area next month and will check out the beaches. Any does or dont's ?

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