Definitely our best game-time decision so far was to leave Tia Yesy's and come to the Hodelpa. After another good night there, another workout in a gym and another amazing breakfast we felt refreshed and recharged! With almost all our clothes clean I reorganized our bags while the kids got in some last TV time. We got everything we would need for our 3 days at the Tubagua Eco Lodge in one suitcase so we wouldn't have to even open the others at the next stop. It really does make the traveling more relaxing to be at each location for longer because you can settle in and feel at home a bit. Our first two stops were 5 nights each and it was definitely worth it to unload everything into closets and dressers. Moving around 2 nights here, 2 nights there is definitely more of a pain. We have 3 nights at Tubagua, 3 nights in Puerto Plata and then 5 nights in Las Galares coming up before our last stop in Punta Cana though, so we will see how that feels.
Teo came to pick us up right on time (a little early actually which is unheard of here haha!) and we managed to get our 3 bags in his trunk and then had to fit the rest of us and our backpacks in the main part of the car. In hindsight I do think I could have packed even a little lighter than I did. 2 cuter outfits was perfect and the 4 sporty ones has been good as well, but I should have packed less pajamas and swimsuits for the kids. I don't think I could have eliminated an entire suitcase, but I will consider getting a 3rd that is like the 2 Mike and I took to Italy for our next trip instead of the larger black one we brought with us here...it would make fitting them into different cars easier for sure.
We headed off toward Tubagua for what I thought would be about a one hour drive. We did not know that Teo had been told to use a different road because the conditions on the shorter route were very bad after all the rain I guess they had the week before. The only positive to this longer route (which doubled our drive time) was that we went right by the Teleferico, which was the one must-do I had on my list for Puerto Plata besides relaxing at the resort. Teo actually suggested we stop there and it worked out perfectly because he was able to stay with all our things in the car while we went on the ride. He also came in and made sure we got our tickets ok and everything, he was seriously such a sweetheart. Really, the all the Dominicans have been so amazingly friendly and helpful with us!
The teleferico was a fun little gondola ride up the mountain and gave views over all of Puerto Plata. At the top there is quite a bit to do but we didn't want to leave Teo waiting too long and also wanted to be sure to get to Tubagua before dark so we were quick. There is a miniature Christ the Redeemer statue (a local helped take some fun pictures of us with my phone and then showed us where his gift shop was :-), we bought a deck of cards because I felt like we should buy something and I really didn't want anything else) and some beautiful gardens as well. Even here where I would expect any tourists in the area to come, we were really just surrounded by other Dominican families. Almost every place we have been we have been the only white families around, pretty crazy. Jarabacoa actually seemed the most tourtisty surprisingly. We assume because it appeals to the adventure crowd with it's white water rafting and mountain climbing? Who knows.
Back in the car we went after and on to Tubagua! After getting lost a couple of times we finally found it...and proceeded to have the weirdest welcome at a hotel yet. Tim, the owner, is an older Canadian who has lived in the DR since 1986 (we found out later) and he had mentioned to me in our last email correspondence that he would be having a party from 1-6pm so we should try to get there for it. We ended up arriving around 4:30pm and were super confused about where to go. There wasn't an office, we had no idea what Tim looked like and when I found the large eating hall it was full of a bunch of old white people...not what I expected to find at a rustic place like this. After looking around aimlessly a bit Mike finally asked some people where Tim was. He came out, a little drunk, to show us our house and welcomed us to join the party. No word about anything else (wifi, breakfast, dinner?) but the kids were hungry so we dropped our things off and braved the crowd. After more confusion someone cleaned some plates for us and we loaded up on the smorgasbord...pizza, wings, rice, chili, salad. Later on when I ventured back to the eating hall to find where the water was (something else we had no clue about) the same nice lady helped us. I thought she worked here, but we haven't seen her since, so I guess she was just a helpful party guest :-).
We did walk around the grounds a bit when we got here though and the views and set up are all really gorgeous! We played some rounds of dominoes on our cute porch looking out at the view and knew we would make it here for 3 nights despite the crazy welcome. Addie and Preston even discovered some HUGE crickets as the sun was going down which they were thrilled about and which made Ella and I more grateful for the mosquito nets over the beds haha. We were ready to turn in early for the night and were in our jammies laying in our beds at 8pm when there was a knock on the door asking if we wanted dinner...we passed and hoped for a better tour of the place in the morning when everyone was back to work mode :-).
re-organizing and packing fun
best picture of the trip haha!
Crazy huge purple grasshoppers that serenaded us every night
This video from the next morning gives a little tour of the place...