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Samana beach sleeping

from sleeping in a castle to sleeping in the sand

sunny 30 °C

Samana

After quitting my job at the castle just 5 minutes before we were about to leave, I had to quickly pack everything I was prepared to leave behind in order to take it with me on our planned trip to Samana. I quit in a blazing argument with my boss/ wonderful friend. I have come to realise that for me, working has always been about making the world a better place – and has nothing to do with financial gain. Thankfully, I can now see this is where I keep going wrong with reception and bar work jobs over the last year. My Spanish is finally good enough to try and avoid these types of jobs so I can find work in my career instead. That was always the goal, one year to improve the language before I found a 'real' job - and now I am at the one year mark. I am starting to feel a little bad though… over the past year, at least 9 people I have worked with have quit their jobs because I have highlighted to them the terrible working conditions and he racism and rude attitudes of the employers. In these parts of the world, jobs aren’t so easy to come by and maybe this isn’t the best thing for me to be doing. However, I got an email from a friend yesterday who quit last week from his new job and took 5 with him. He told me that he was being treated badly and decided he couldn’t stand it anymore, and managed to raise the teams courage to quit together and screw over the management. He said it was because of what I had taught him… ooops.

Anyway, we had our nice big fat jeep piled full of my hastily packed things and the backpacks of the others. We headed away; Arjan, Brandon, Hod, Tias and I. It was Hod and Brandon’s final days in the country and we wanted to go and explore the Samana peninsula. I had not seen everything I had wanted to see when I was last in Las Galeras and knew I would have so much fun with the boys. We arrived really late due to the delays back at the castle, but managed to find a lovely little bay where we slept on the sand around a campfire. There was a raggedy beach hut on the grass beside the bay so Brandon and I went to investigate. And we were so lucky, because this is how we met Jairo who was one of the kindest most special souls I have met on my travels. He told us we could stay on the beach, he brought a mattress out from his house for me to sleep on at night, and he stocked us up with fire wood and prepared our fires while we were out during the day.
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He even sat up and talked with us at night, we taught him how to make s’mores and roast marshmallows which he soon became very addicted to. Brandon, Arjan, and I were the only ones who could understand him, but Hod and Tias were very soon friends of his too as they were just so overwhelmed by his kindness. In a country where most people are out to rip off the tourists, Jairo really did seem like a blessing in disguise. And his beach was just beautiful.
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One one of our day trips we headed out to Playa Rincon which is one of the top 10 beaches in the entire world – and it is really easy to see why.
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The drive itself was incredible, we drove over high mountains where the entire peninsular fell away before us and we could see the beautiful Caribbean sparkling all around us.
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We stopped and bought some delicious fruit, paid way too much (thanks Brandon) for a bottle of Mamajuana, and drank fresh cacao fruit hot chocolate. Mamajuana is a bottle filled with tree bark and roots, spices and canes that is then fermented with honey, vanilla, red wine, and of course Caribbean rum. The best mamajuana is usually made carefully over a series of weeks/ months and is actually a ancient remedy for infection and illness as well as an alcoholic beverage. Many Dominicans will drink 2 shots of mamajuana every single day in order to keep sickness away.
The beach itself was incredible and it felt as if we were the only people in the world.
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It was a bit windy so it wasn’t quite perfect tanning conditions. It just felt so rugged and raw; so untouched by humans.
I have a huge problem with the rubbish here in the Dominican Republic. Such beautiful places yet rubbish everywhere, and even worse – it’s that rubbish that got outlawed in most 1st world countries. That white foam type stuff for eating and drinking from. And everyone just leaves it lying all over the beaches. So seeing Rincon was a joy to my eyes. Poor old Jairo got an earful about the state of his beach, but I promised the help of myself and the others, and between the group of us we got it looking pretty beautiful. He has since contacted me and said it is now even cleaner and he is trying to do his best to keep it clean and make sure visitors do their part too.
On one of the other days we headed to ‘the bridge to nowhere’ in Samana. Naturally, we all wanted to jump off it but only a couple of us could due to genuine excuses – 24 hours’ worth of planes to catch and not wanting to be salty, and my spider bite (oh yea, I got bit by a tarantula) was still far too infected that a large jolt of hitting water from a height would cause debilitating pain. Only 5 days earlier I had been in hospital, unable to even sit or walk without crying my eyes out.
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Anyway, the bridge and the walk was pretty spectacular, and Brandon and Arjan did the rest of us cliff jumpers great pride as they threw themselves straight down into the harbour below.
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Over the week we slept at the beach, we ate nothing more than plates of chicken. For just $3.50NZD we could eat at the world’s best chicken restaurant, no exaggeration. We ate there up to 2 times a day; rice, beans, salad, and fresh fried chicken.
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On one of the days we went on a huge drive and found a cool tree house village where we sat and drank hot coffee and rum while it poured with rain all around us. The tree house village was incredible, it really was a 5 star jungle resort, Tarzan and Jane playground. It had swinging beds, private tree huts with power, double beds, beautiful lighting, and amazing views. There was a full bar and restaurant, and everything was interconnected with swinging platforms and bridges.
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One of the things I was desperate to do was see El Limon waterfall. So off we went to the waterfall entrance where we got scammed into riding horses up a path (while people led us) to another waterfall entrance.
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We then had to pay, got scammed into drinking mamajuana, and then had to ditch the horses and walk the rest of the way. But wow, was it worth it…
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The day was hot and sticky and the water was so nice and cool. We had been sleeping at least 4 nights on the beach by this point so swimming in fresh water was an absolute treat. If I had been smarter I would have taken my soap and had a bath!
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We found parts to jump from but of course my bite was still bad so I couldn’t jump from the top like I wanted to. However, Arjan did me proud and jumped from a huge height.
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It was the most magical waterfall, we bathed there for hours. There were very few people there so we got to really enjoy it all to ourselves.
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Of course we had to go back the same way, with the bloody horses and the people asking us for money we didn’t have on us. They threw a tantrum when we refused to tip them more than $100 pesos each. In a country where tipping isn’t customary, people surely can make you feel bad if you don’t oblige! I wish we had investigated the waterfalls better, I am sure there is a way to enter on foot and without guides. To both save money and to be on our own as we wanted desperately to explore the smaller waterfalls on the way, and just to be away from people who only want us for money.

However, we were all really glad we went to the waterfalls and that we saw some of the best beaches in the Dominican Republic, if not the world. We were so lucky to find Jairo and his hospitality – that even included freshly cut coconut water and then flesh for breakfast. It was a magical time together.
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Waving Brandon and Hod off for the airport was strange, and then even stranger seeing Tias and Arjan leave for the castle and me for the bus to Santo Domingo.
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Not returning to the castle, what had become my home for 2 months was a really bizarre feeling. I was not sure what to expect, I was feeling very lost and alone again like I didn’t know which way to go. But something had changed once and for all – I really understand that to feel like that is actually all part of this huge adventure. To be out there, to be free, to be really living, is scary. It’s dangerous, it’s lonely, and it’s confusing and it’s hard. But after feeling this way on and off now over the last year I have realised that it is something to embrace rather than something to fear. Because the universe has never let me down, and I know that I will always find a new adventure even crazier than the last.

Posted by chasingsummer 12:57 Archived in Dominican Republic

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