Sunday, March 13, 2016

Escape to Luperon, Dominican Republic

Goodbye Turks and Caicos
We left Cockburn Harbour, Turks and Caicos in the wee hours of the morning and took a straight line to Luperon in The Dominican Republic. Well, a straight line would have been nice but we had those white things up and wanted to use them, so we tacked our way out of the Turks Passage. Not a bad sail even with the wind on the nose. Odin was tacking with us trying to get out of there, which seemed to take forever. Waves were easy and the wind light but the day was sunny and warm. Eventually we made some headway and set our sails for Luperon. The evening was fine because we had a moon to see where the hell we were going but we still do not like the overnight sailing because even with a moon it is still tough to see anything in the water ahead of you. There were so many whales in the area that we were constantly worried we would hit one. The wind and waves were cooperative for the most part. At one point we had to motor sail for a little bit but the wind came back.

We now take shifts down below to sleep instead of laying down in the cockpit. So much better this way because you are actually in a real bed and a ways away from the action. Hopefully there is no action but if a sail needs to be adjusted you are not waking the other person up. I actually managed to get a few hours sleep in the aft cabin which greatly improved my endurance while on watch. I still needed a little extra boost to keep me awake though. This is where the snacking comes in. It keeps me awake if I am constantly chewing on something sugary. Later on the stomach ache keeps my eyes open. I know I'm really bad when it comes to eating healthy while underway. Sugar and caffeine. Giddyup!

Remnants of the night shift

We got close to Luperon and we were starting to sweat the harbor entrance. We were desperately trying to slow it down so we would arrive after daybreak at Luperon Harbour. A couple freighters and a Cruise ship helped us out a little. As we drew close the sun started coming up and the Mountains of Hispaniola materialized out of the glowing morning mist. It was quite a sight to see. There was a feeling of accomplishment and we were both smiling as we motored on towards that elusive entrance. The place smelled like cigars. I know that sounds weird but it really did.

SV Odin was way the hell behind us coming up to the entrance and all I could think of was they were giving us room to run aground and then would pass us and wave one of those "Oh gosh, sorry, Ha Ha Ha. We will send out a boat boy to laugh at you, I mean tow you off! Adios!" They eventually tightened it up as we passed through the somewhat confusing set of marks. It's a narrow entrance but plenty deep enough. Debra did a fine job navigating through the entrance even with me badgering her about the marks and shoals. We simply followed the Garmin chart and all was well.

When the entrance opened up we saw a ton of sailboats anchored in the there. Holy shit! I hope there's room! Eventually we found a spot that looked good to drop the hook and then this guy in a small boat comes up to us and says he has a mooring for $2 a day. We declined and dropped the hook in the mud. We really are cheap bastards aren't we? Odin took the mooring. We soon realized how close we were to other boats and decided the $2 a day was a bargain. Papo, our boat boy came over and said he had one more mooring and we jumped on it. Now remember that we have a manual windlass. I was bathed in sweat after we landed the mooring. We were also extremely close to Odin and I was worried for their privacy. Not everyone appreciates accordion music and our Bavarian slap dancing.

Time to clear in!

I really could have used a shower because I smelled like an open bag of Fritos laying in a gym locker. I threw on some extra deoderant and we went ashore to find the officials. We saw the Odin crew sweating it out in some shitty little trailer and figured this must be the place. Either that or they have been arrested. When it was our turn I thought I saw the famous Freddie from immigration wrinkle his nose as the smell of corn chips and gym shorts filled his office.

Did you ever notice how bad sandals can smell after a year? Very bad. I wash my feet and I wash the sandals but it does nothing. Might be time for some new footwear.

After we paid all the people we needed to pay, or all the people that needed to fleece us, we bounced down to the local bar called Wendy's. We had a mini celebration and then went back to our boats to crash for the rest of the day and night.

22.5 oz for about $2. My liver and bladder are so
happy we left here.

Luperon is nuts. Motorcycles and cars and friggin horses going every which way and loud music pounding the streets. Old Toyota pick ups with loudspeakers duct taped to the roofs announcing loudly their wares for sale. I asked our waiter one day what they were screaming to the neighborhood about. He said, Potatoes.
These dudes yelled PATATA PATATA PATATA over and over again circling the block for like a half hour. It was driving me crazy. Cerveza por favor! And keep em coming. You would think I could figure out Patata. I swear I get dumber with every nautical mile.

We were eating lunch one afternoon at this major intersection and we saw motorcycle after motorcycle buzzing around and around. It was the same people making loops around the block! WTF are they doing? You also see the most ridiculous and absurd things being carried on a motorcycle. Propane tanks, milk jugs, many children, goats, bales of hay and horses. I made that last one up. We did not see one pony draped over a motorcycle. Disappointing.

The people here are nice. Most smile, some ignore the gringo but most except that you are here to enjoy their town and they appreciate it. I think Luperon gets a bad rap because of the "government" officials. The harbor is not anywhere near as bad as what we have been reading. There aren't turds floating by or dead horses bumping up against your boat. Imagine the horror of seeing something like that? Not the turd, the horse. People here dress really well. They are lean. The ladies look awesome. If you buy clothes here they will fit tight. I bought shorts. I think they hug my ass really nice. Deb said they are hugging what used to be my ass and is now my thighs.

The check in is stressful but not that bad. You just have to share those ten dollar bills with the four offices next to the gate. For some reason they think we are wealthy. Have they seen the way we dress?

We found several nice restaurants in town and one which was very out of the way for us tourists but we found it because of me making a joke while the Agriculture official was visiting our boat.

We had already paid a visit to the Agriculture inspector and dropped some dollars on her and then we are walking back to the boat one day and she waved us down for a an inspection. Well, OK. Let's go. We got in the dinghy and hauled her ass out to the boat. She's filling out some forms and notices that we already have forms filed and we have a receipt. She looks at me as if to say, "What the fuck! I already processed you people! I'm either nuts or you gringos all look the same." She smiled and put everything away and said OK. So I get her in the dinghy and I look back at Deb at the stern and jokingly say, "Be back later Dear. We'll be at the bar." Well apparently the Ag lady understood that little bit of English because this woman thought we were going to Wendy's for some beers. I felt bad because I left my wallet on the boat and she had told me it was her birthday tomorrow so I told her I would buy her a beer for her birthday. She said she got out of work at two. Uh oh.

This was the start of our Ag agents lenghty birthday celebration

So by 2pm next day we were sitting in Wendy's figuring no one would show. Well here comes Iris the Agricultural inspector strolling in at 2:30 all smiles. Then here comes Iris's son on a motorcycle all smiles. Oh hey there's Iris's daughter! Let's all have cerveza! SV Odin shows up to help us party and before long we are getting hungry. Iris excused herself but said she would be back. OK. Didn't know dinner was involved in this celebration but we are already off the deep end here so might as well go with it. Well we didn't know her husband was involved either because he showed up after Iris got her dinner clothes on. More beer for everyone!

We all strolled down the main street looking for a restaurant but they were all closed. Finally the Ag agent's husband said he knew of a good place and led us onward.
We ended up at Petulu's. A cool little shack with a super friendly dude who re-opened his kitchen for us, much to the disappointment of his mother out in the "kitchen". The kitchen is actually in the backyard and has a tarp over it. I didn't look too closely else it would ruin dinner. People who know me are wondering how Mr germaphobe survives out here. It's called ignorance. What you don't know will not hurt you. Maybe. It could possibly result in a horrible parasite living inside your intestines, wreaking havoc for months until you weigh 20 lbs less then when you arrived. The sad part is I'm already skinny so my body would shrink even more but my head would remain large. The locals would call me Headuardo. I would be in all the Carnival parades.

Best meal yet! Petulu catered to our vegetarian needs and made the rest of the folks happy as well. All in all a pleasant experience. We had fun despite the language barrier. We used google translate to get to know one another. Google translate doesn't always work too well. At one point in the night I think I told them I like goats wearing skirts. The husband elbowing me, winking "Me too." Could have been uncomfortable had that really happened. The restaurant is located off the "tourist" path so we got some looks as Iris's husband (wish I could remember his name) proudly led the way through town. It's like they hooked a prized Gringo for the evening and people were giving them a thumbs up. "Good for you Amigo! Order large!"

We crept back to the boat and called it another night in Luperon. Debra had her flashlight shining on the water as we motored back. I avoided something dark in the water in front of us. Was that a horse?

A little more on Luperon later. We need to talk about the exit, or despatcho scene.


Sorry about my fascination with horses lately. I'm sure it will pass.

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