Thursday, March 10, 2016

Life in Luperon

The basics necessities in Luperon

As we near our uno-year anniversary, I have been working away from sharing a play-by-play of what our dias are like.  However, Luperon was such a change from our previous stops I will do it one more time.  I am disappointed with the quantity and quality of my fotos.  Apparently, we were too busy soaking up the atmosphere, looking up Spanish words in the dictionary and eating out.  The motorcycles and dogs of Luperon should have their own foto essays.  Get out your Spanish dictionary--we're becoming fluent in Spanglish. 

A typical Luperon motocicleta

We saw this moto all over town

A little different style of Luperon moto

El Capitan is fascinated by the primary mode of transportation--motorcycles.  "I had a motorcycle like that when I was a teenager!"  We've seen elderly couples with the wife riding side saddle, kids, three people on one, mothers and toddlers, people carrying a case of El Presidente or a 5 gal jug of aqua in their lap, and one guy had an outboard laying across the back--not strapped down!  When there is a near miss at the intersection (no stop light or stop sign), they laugh and wave to each other. Throw in some horses and SUV's and you've got a traffic jam. We can't help but chuckle & shake our heads.  (We highly recommend a restaurant near the intersection in town--Robert's or de la France.)

A walk over to the beach on the Atlantic side, overlooking the harbor entrance

Dia dos:  We catch the cruisers net on 72 at 8:00 am.  There is a forecast high 87 with UV 8-10 this week!  Wow.  You don't want to be out in the afternoon sun.  They report 600 boats passed through in 2004, the last statistics they have. We head to the marina and meet Veronique at the swap meet.  She answers our wifi, water and laundry questions and points us towards a residential area for a walk.  We find the abandoned Playa Hotel Luperon (huge and sad!) and end up on a dirt road with free range cows.  We follow it to the end hoping to find the playa and are rewarded with a beach front park with a bar.  We retrace our steps back to the marina and stop for lunch.  Our waitress speaks un poco Ingles, so we get out our Spanish for Cruisers book and start practicing our Spanglish.  She appreciates the gesture and she smiles and answers in tentative English.  (I finally get to use "Donde esta el bano?")  The locals are patient with calculating the exchange rate for our US dollars.  Luckily, their dialect seems more of the "casual" Spanish.  "Hola" is an appropriate greeting.  We head back to el barco for our siesta (seriously, LOVE it here) and Papo stops by to check on us--we hand over our 2 fuel jerry cans and request water (Veronique said it is 40 pesos at the store or 50 if Papo delivers--$1.  40 cents to deliver!)  We haven't found the grocery store yet, but who needs groceries when 2 people can eat out--2 rounds, BBQ special with rice & flan for dessert for $20. 

Cattle grazing near the beach

Dia tres:  Slept like a baby again.  The water is flat calm in the harbor and with a slight evening breeze off the mountains.  Its's Monday so we head out to find the wifi office and the bank to exchange some pesos (Luperon is all cash--no credit cards accepted anywhere).  El Capitan and I compete to see who can communicate with the locals.

El Presidente y Ron Fruitas

Dia cuatro:  We head in to Wendy's to meet Kelly Nicole and the Ag agent at 2:00 pm for her birthday beer.  We meet several members of her familia before we end up going to dinner with her and her husband at Putula's Restaurant (possibly our best & cheapest meal yet).  As usual, the resident perro, a tiny chihuahua named Chiquita, befriends El Capitan.  If you ignore her, she will bit your toes.  No bueno en flip flops.

This dog lives across from Wendy's & guards his territory from above

This little guy is named Buttercup & loves El Capitan.  One day he met us at the dock and followed us around town all day.  Here, he appeared under my chair at Wendy's.

This is Chiquita from Putula's.  The toe biter.  Why do they all love laying on my backpack?

Dia cinco:  We decide to share a rental car with Kelly Nicole so we can run into Puerto Plata to do some provisioning.  Papo comes by the boat and tosses the keys to The Captain.  No paperwork, no map, no walk around.  "Call me on the radio when you get back.  It's the black SUV on the dock." We guess it's actually Papo's car which is confirmed when everyone waves as we head through town. It's an hour drive through winding country roads dodging motorcycles, horses, dogs and the occasional car.  Everyone rides the center line apparently to dodge potholes.  We only saw two street signs on the way out and one on the way back. 

Puerto Plata is crazy.  Motorcycles are passing on the left and right and sometimes driving on the wrong side of the road.  They use them as moto taxis.  People walk out of the grocery store with groceries and hop on the back of a waiting motorcycle!  After a quick stop at both groceries for reconnaissance, we park on the Malcon along the beach and start looking for restaurants.  Suddenly, one of the guards from the government dock appears before us--he lives in Puerto Plata!  He walks us down to his favorite restaurant, joins us for a cerveza, then takes the men to the Dominican cigar factory while the "women go shop".  

Too tired to do the cable car or drive by the waterfalls, we head back towards Luperon.  We get almost no pictures on the burros grazing on the side of the road or the cattle blocking the road, but we when we hang a camera out to snap a young man on horseback, he smiles and waves!  Suddenly, we're back in Luperon and everyone is waving. I much prefer it aqui. 

The government dinghy dock needs a little work.  Luckily, this is low tide!

The local fishing boats

Dia seis:  Papo delivers 7-5 gal bottles of aqua.  We discovered a tear in our genoa on the way in, so we head into town to buy some sail cloth and successfully communicate with the local sailmaker.  (I guess our pleasantries were passable because we got a handshake after our greeting.  A good sign.)  We rush back to dump in the water, then I drag El Capitan back for one more meal at La Galeria. The owner waits on us this time and again we practice our Spanish while he practices his English. He patiently teaches El Capitan to say plantana for verde banana (he already knows frita!). We get a complimentary appetizer, complimentary drinks, and have some wonderful coconut ice cream with pineapple preserves for dessert. 

We spend the evening discussing our routing.  We are only supposed to stop at "designated" anchorages but the only one between Luperon and Samana is Puerto Plata, which is not  recommended because of commercial traffic.  All the stops recommended in #Thornless are "unofficial".  Our despacho clears us directly to Samana and will require explaining to any officials that show up at the boat that we are just "stopping temporarily to rest." Definitely skipping Soshua.  Possibly Rio San Juan.  Maybe Escondido.  (Kelly Nicole is contemplating all the way to Puerto Rico.  We won't be doing that.)   

We fell in love with Luperon.  It is a beautiful Caribbean island with a hispanic culture, soil and lush green foliage, abundant cattle, fresh produce and very happy people. Oh, and the food!  We love seafood but lobster and conch, all meals actually, were expensive in the Bahamas. And why go to the store, cook, and do dishes when you can have a leisurely lunch on the patio (the big meal of the day) for $20/2 people then retire for a seista?  The beautiful harbor--no, it's not the clear blue, sandy harbors of the Bahamas where you can hop in for a quick swim when it gets warm, but the mountains provide protection and beautiful sunrises and sunsets. We slept like the dead here, probably the calm water and cool breezes off the mountain. Yes, the still air meant bugs but only for a little while in the morning and evening.  I finally got to dust of my 4 years of Spanish lessons, but the Captain was just as eager to communicate ("Hey, you used a new word!  What does that mean?!").  We reluctantly plan our departure, knowing we will spend some more time in Samana and can always head farther down the east coast. When can still practice our Spanish in Puerto Rico, at the Wal Mart!  

We will definitely be back to the Luperon. 


  1. The dominican is becoming hands down one of my favourite places to visit in spite of the very dense local spanish (they drop many final syllables)

    It is best to get the rhythm of dominican driving down pat: notice that nobody has rear view mirrors. Take the hint... what is behind you DOESN'T MATTER. Focus on what's in front and not crashing, and you'll be fine.

    Wait till you see the dudes with construction materials, 30 feet of bamboo, hot water tank, or large propane tank (!).

    Buen viaje. Get to know the local fruit, it is worthwhile. Look for passionfruit (maracuya) it looks like a mango that collapsed in on itself and went wrinkly. Slice it open, puree the seeds and fruit, strain, add sugar to taste.

    Your routing seems a massive downside. Many fun towns to stop in, and there is nobody official who will care about your legal status. Make sure you stop in Las Terrenas, there is a tidy anchorage in behind the reef in front of town. Usually moored is a prop used in the Pirates of the Caribbean series (motorboat, can't sail) and a cat owned by an inventor of kitesurf who hangs out in town. Town and surrounding area is not to be missed, and it's approximately 10 times better than Sta Barbara de Samana. Scooters are for rent @$20/day and you can also get 4 wheel quads. Two big western-style groceries in town.

    The bay of samana looks pretty hairy to navigate on a chart... if you want to visit the national park at the top of it (recommmended) just hire a boat on the dock in the town of Samana or hire a tour in Las Terrenas.

    Reach me with questions, fellow pdq owner, frequent visitor to the DR -

  2. I also think a stop at the literal end of the road, in Las Galeras, is also worthwhile. Agree Sosua is skippable.

  3. Thank you for all the input! We'll be here another week, so may rent a car and explore some more.