While we were on our around-the-island adventure we wanted to explore as much of the unknown as possible. The untouched, the hidden routes, the genuine Dominican life and towns. Once we finished our exploration of the North East peninsula we wanted to head to a place we’ve only heard good things about, Los Haitises.
Normally you have to take a road all the way down to Santo Domingo, then drive along the coast and go back up to get to Los Haitises. This seemed like too much driving and a waste of time, we knew there had to be another way. So Jade used her impressive navigational and Google map analyzing skills to find us a road that cut right below the national park of Los Haitises.
Before we ventured off we asked various people in the towns that we had been in if we could get to our destination by taking the road of Bayaguana (marked on the map above). Everyone we spoke with, from locals to foreigners, told us that this road was impossible and didn’t make it all the way. We weren’t convinced as we could clearly see it thanks to Google maps. Not only that but Dominican directions go a little like this: “How do I get to this place?” “Uhh, you want to go right (points left) then go up (what does up mean?) then uhh, just ask after you make that first left (wait I thought it was a right?)”.
By taking this road we would be heading into the middle of nowhere. Our trip in total took us around five hours and some parts were more of an animal trail than a car one. In all four directions it’s pure “monte” (hills, nature, fields). We did notice that the locals here all seem to have a special glow to them.
Seemingly unaffected by the outside world, smiles are bigger and brighter in the middle of nowhere.
Simply put, they look happy to live where they do without a care in the world. They grow the food the eat and don’t have to worry about the city or big town life. The small town life has its downs as well, I’m sure but the people felt warm hearted.
About three hours in a local Dominican yells out for a ride as we’re driving, very slowly over bumps, rocks, and so forth. So, he jogs up to the car and we tell him to hang on the back spare tire. We think he just wants a ride to the next town but he actually wants to help us cross an upcoming river.
Some would say, where there is good there’s also bad and for this adventure it played out as truth.
We’ve never seen the river so we figure we might as well take him along just in case he could be of some use and we can give him a little tip for his kindness. So down the hill we go, running into a friend of his who also jumps on the back.
We arrive at the river and lo and behold there’s actually a bridge! Here I thought things would be a little more complicated. Given the bridge looks like it had fallen apart once and a vehicle the size of a hummer would barely fit on the bridge, but still doable nonetheless, we’d been through worse on our travels. The locals had already run down the hill so we figured we’d let them do their thing and guide us across.
A few minutes later we make it across safe and sound. We stop the car for a bit, hand the guys 50 RD (about a dollar), say thanks and we’re ready to keep going on our journey…..except they weren’t too happy to see such a small amount of money.
The guy to my right almost seemed insulted that I would give him such little money and demands I give him at least 1,500 RD (about 40usd) for crossing the bridge. Jade and I both laugh out loud thinking he was joking (the bridge was only about ten feet long) but he was serious all right. At this point I’m talking to one guy while Jade is talking to the other. It goes down a little like this, all in Spanish of course but translated for you =).
Gabe and Tiguere #1:
(Before we start you may be confused as to what a Tiquere is. There are many meanings, in this case we’ll use the definition of a hustler.)
Me: 1,500 pesos! No way, the bridge crossing wasn’t even that hard, we could of done it ourselves.
Tiguere #1: You have no idea how much money we just saved you in repairs. You could have damaged the car, or even fallen into the river and DIED!
(I’d like to note that we actually did hit the bottom of the car, only because they where helping us and we didn’t step out of the car and analyze it for ourselves)
Me: There’s no way we’re paying you that much, I’ll give you 100 RD (about 2 usd) but 1,500 RD is just too much.
(This goes back and forth for a while)
Meanwhile on the other side of the car, Jade is doing a much better job at making progress.
Jade and Tigeure #2:
Jade: Now I know you’re a better man than this. To help out of the goodness of your heart and accept a reward is one thing, but to demand more than you are given out of the goodness of MY heart?!?!? That’s just disrespectful. I know your momma taught you better than that, and you can’t tell me it’s very christian of you either. You should be ashamed of yourselves, you will take my 50 pesos and you will be happy that you’re getting anything at all after the way you two have just acted. Trying to take advantage of tourists because you think they don’t know any better! pff!
Tigeure #2: ?!? …
Tigeure #2: to tiguere #1, It’s alright man, let’s go.
At the end of all of the commotion, my guy looking like he wants to punch me in the face and Jade’s guy feeling ashamed of himself, we go free. We ended up giving them a hundred pesos each and kept on our way. For the first few minutes we weren’t really sure what was going to happen next. Would they go home and come back with a knife or a gun or would they just brush it off, but we kept going. In the middle of nowhere you don’t really have a choice but to keep pushing forward, especially when anything bigger then a few houses bunched together is hours away in any given direction.
How did Jade manage to get her Dominican laughing and feeling ashamed of himself, well, she wrote recently posted a how to on getting yourself out of a dangerous situation. Check it out so if this ever happens to you, you have a base to work with.
We saw this after our bridge crossing experience and tried to recreate a famous painting. Do you see it?
Have you ever been in a dangerous situation?
Did you make it out ok?
If not, what would have done differently?
If yes, what did you do?