Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Jarabacoa and it's Waterfalls

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It was sad and scary to say goodbye to our little beach home after 5 nights there on the morning of the 28th! The kids said goodbye to the sweet dogs and enjoyed one last pancake breakfast before Norm took us to the Caribe Tours bus station in Barahona. We were planning to take the 9:45am bus to Santo Domingo and then hoping to get on the 1:30pm bus to Jarabacoa. We knew it would be tight but really did not want to be stuck waiting 3 hours for the next bus. When our bus arrived early and we pulled out right on time I really thought we would make it! Our plan was for Mike to run off the bus to the ticket counter to get tickets while the kids and I waited for our bags to be unloaded from under the bus. We ended up in tons of traffic as soon as we got to Santo Domingo and pulled into the station right around 1:30pm. We put our plan in action and I even found the bus to Jarabacoa still there with everyone lined up to get on. Mike came back with bad news though, only 2 seats were left (they don't let you buy tickets in advance the month of December) and he even went back to ask if kids could sit on our laps...no luck. We decided it was worth the extra money to pay a taxi to take us instead of wasting 3 hours at the bus station and Mike found a guy with a decent car willing to negotiate. When he opened his trunk to put one of our big bags in though the bag hit the natural gas tank he had put in and it started leaking. I felt really badly for him and was also thankful he was the one who had been putting the bags in! So we were back to having no ride when the driver of our Caribe Tours bus was walking by and said he had a gua gua and could take us. We smooshed in his old van and were off!
The drive was pretty and interesting...the vegetation, scenery and temperature all changed dramatically in such a short time! Once we got to Jarabacoa we had a little bit of a hard time finding the “hotel” but with lots of stopping to ask people (which means yelling to random people as we drive by until someone can help you haha) we made it to Tia Yesy's. Now, I had initially booked Jarabacoa Mountain Hostel 8 months before the trip. 2 months before the trip they emailed me saying they could not honor the reservation and offered me this as an alternative. They said it was right down the road had wifi, tv and beds for 5 and was really cheap, so I accepted the offer (I now hate this hotel haha). Initially we thought it was going to be a fun adventure...it looked like a treehouse and was really cute, plus the kids had their own beds which was a bonus. We dropped off our bags and walked about a mile into town for dinner. The town is more tourist oriented for sure because of all the adventure activities available (river rafting, mountain biking, hiking, etc) and the kids were thrilled to find a playground and some “normal” food options at El Carrito de Moshe! We stopped by the colmado to stock up on food for breakfast the next morning (since we would be making it in our little kitchen) and then headed back to settle in.
The next morning we woke up feeling tired after a looong night. There are no sound barriers in this house from each other or from the outdoors. The walls don't go up to the roof so it is basically one large room with dividers and the roof is also not sealed to the walls so we heard music playing down the road, dogs barking, etc. The worst culprits were the roosters who were “so dumb they think it's 7am every second” as Addie put it :-). They really did crow at odd hours 24/7 though. Around 3:30am we were all awake at one point and got the giggles listening to one rooster who sounded like he may be dying haha. Mike and I also heard a horse gallop by and then neigh...seriously. That one gave us a good laugh throughout the day when we would remember it. Needless to say we all woke up a little more tired and grumpy than normal so our main goal was to wear ourselves out so we would sleep HARD the next night!
After a slow morning for us Mike cooked up a breakfast similar to what he makes at home which was a fun change (eggs with onion, meat and hot sauce...but here we had fresh amazing avocado for it too) and then a guy named David met up with us to take us to some of the waterfalls in the area.
The first we went to was what he called the secret waterfall and it was a little bit of a trek to get back to it, but it was beautiful. On the way back we went a different route that took us higher up the mountain and was gorgeous! We tried some fruit along the way...sweet lemons, oranges and bitter lemons.
The highlight of the entire day for the kids was walking by a little shack of a house that had a puppy and kitten outside. The kids are obsessed with all the stray animals here. EVERY meal time results in many reminders not to feed the animals until we are done eating, please don't pet them – especially when eating, don't look at them while we are eating, etc haha. So the fact that these ones were adorable AND let them hold them had them in heaven for sure!
We made our way to two other falls after. Baiguate Waterfall and Salto de Jimenoa Dos. The kids loved the Baiguate most because they were able to play in the water (it was a little warmer than at the secret falls) and explore some. The walk back to Jimenoa Dos was cool because you went along suspension bridges but it is also more of a tourist attraction which diminished it's appeal a bit. All were beautiful though and the countryside in general in this area is amazing. Being in Jarabacoa has been very different for us than anywhere else because it is obviously more of a tourist destination (the only white water rafting in the Caribbean is here). We see a lot more of them out and about and just the restaurants and everything are more geared for a non-Dominican crowd, so it hasn't been our favorite.
By the time we ended our tours of the waterfalls (we still have one more we need to get to) it was 3pm and we were all exhausted and starving. We let the kids have their way and went to a place called Pizza and Pepperoni and it was a hit. There was a huge play ground and the pizza and breadsticks actually tasted pretty normal! I got Mofongo and chicken, but the rest of the family was pretty excited about a real pizza for the first time in a long time. We stopped by the colmado on our way home to get some popcorn (another big treat) and Addie spotted a big bag of tostitos and a jar of queso up on the shelf! I checked the expirations and everything was good still! Wahoo! We bought them to save for New Year's Eve to try and make it special somehow in this weird little place we have found ourselves :-). The evening ended with more rounds of dominoes with Dad. Mike taught the kids to play and they are loving it :-). We all braced for a loud night and hoped for the best!
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the next morning...
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crazy chickens everywhere...including the tree right outside the kitchen weather
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my toe two days after hurting it
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Ella's cute idea ;-)
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the kids' favorite part of the day!
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apparently that house in the middle of the valley is the president's
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