Monday, January 23, 2017

Horses, Waterfalls and Tropical Storms

Right before heading to Las Galeras we looked into booking a couple of the things we wanted to do as tours. Sometimes it's worth it to spend a little more for the stress-free experience of having someone pick you up at your hotel, take care of the entire day and then drop you off again when it is done. The first of our excursions with Tour Samana With Terry was riding horses to Casacada El Limon on January 9th.
El Limon is a beautiful 170 foot waterfall and if it wasn't such a tourist hot spot it would have been my favorite for sure. The landscape surrounding the falls is fairly rough so the most common way to get to it is by horse.
It took about an hour for us to reach the town (we had a quick stop at a cigar making place) and the place where we were getting our horses. Since none of us have any real experience on a horse, we felt a teeny bit nervous but with each horse having a handler we ended up feeling very safe. I was definitely thankful to be sitting on a horse once we started along the path though! It was super muddy and steep...and the kids looked really cute :-).
At the top of the falls we got off our horses and walked the rest of the way down, after a quick peak down to see how tall it really was. Our guide had told us we would walk about 300 steps, which we thought of as walking steps. We soon realized she meant stair-steps though :-). There was a nice pool at the bottom of the falls with freezing water and quite a few other tourists. Preston was the only one who braved the chilly water...mostly because he needed to pee :-)...and we got a quick photo of the kids at the bottom before heading back up. We really have been spoiled on this trip by how few tourists there are around. This area, the Samana peninsula, is full of French tourists and I want to tell them all to go away haha. People often assume we are French since we are white. There are still far fewer people than there were in the Puerto Plata area though and it is exponentially more beautiful here.
We ate lunch at the ranch when we returned the horses and then started the drive back to Las Galeras with a pit stop in Samana at Helados Bon for some good ice cream (finally, we have been wanting to try it in all the big cities). The kids played in the hotel pool for quite some time once we were back and then it was dinner and bed before we knew it. We tried a new restaurant, L' Aventura, and it was really good. We decided to try a new one again tomorrow night and then eat at our favorite again our last night here :-).
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As Mike and I were going to sleep the night before we heard the wind really pick up. It was whistling through the shutters on our little house and when I woke up early this morning it was still going strong. So, it came as no shock when I checked my email to see one from Terry saying our tour to the national park may be cancelled for the day. Las Galeras, our current location, is on the Samana peninsula of the Dominican Republic and Los Haitises is across the bay on the mainland so you take a boat to get there...definitely not good when a tropical storm has rolled into town. We still had tomorrow as an option so at 8:30 when we knew we were officially postponing until the next day we were left with a whole lot of time to kill in one teeny little house and not a lot of options.
The original plan had been Los Haitises today and nice relaxing day at Playa Rincon the following day before heading to our final stop. With Los Haitises moving over that left the beach for today, which also was not a good option for the storm. I really wanted to see Rincon still though, it is the most famous of the gorgeous beaches after-all so we decided to take a taxi over to at least get a couple photos even if the day wouldn't be quite what we had envisioned it would be.
After some rounds of UNO and some crazy kid antics we called a taxi driver, Fernando, and headed over. It was a pretty drive with some nice views on the way (you can also reach this beach by boat, but we decided to mix it up from our other beach visits in this area). The beach itself was nice and definitely the largest of the 3, but I definitely thought the other two were more unique and beautiful. Our driver did tell us that usually the water is a much prettier shade of blue but that the wind had the sand stirred up more so it wasn't quite the same. Playa Rincon also had a pretty little river that empties into the ocean like the beaches we saw down in the southern part of the country.
Aside from that little excursion it was lots of inside time with the kids and stops for lunch and dinner. It was a bit of a long day as a result with the wind not dying down at all we started to make a back-up plan for the following day if our trip to the national park was canceled again. Although my top choice was adding an extra night and day in Punta Cana at the Dreams resort, it was just way too expensive, so we decided we would head back to Santo Domingo and stay at the Jaragua one more time...definitely a better option than being stuck all together doing nothing in a small space again :-). As we got ready for bed the wind was still whipping through the shutters so we were pretty certain plan B would be in full effect and I got us mostly packed up again.
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this is blurry but I love this picture still. one of the main benefits of us traveling is the kids becoming better friends. I love seeing them hanging out, talking and playing...just liking to be together.
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Preston was the only one brave enough to get in
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what we woke up to the next morning :-(

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Mike and Preston's trick

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