Saturday, July 07, 2007
More Motorcycle Madness
Yes, once again we ventured out into the hinterlands aboard a motorcycle. This time we rented from Steve of Steve's Bar and Grill fame. Steve also drew us a map of how to get up high in the mountains where a friend of his runs a dance club called El Paso with swimming pool.
This time it was just us with no partner bike but we are seasoned veterans now. We got an early start so that the traffic from Luperon to Imbert wouldn't be too heavy and it wasn't. Imbert has a busy crossroads and, yes I did kill the engine right in the middle of the highway. Still not good getting going up hill! From Imbert we only went a short way to the turn off that took us on a really pretty drive, through some small towns and ultimatley to Los Hildagos. We decided to take a little break there and have a coffee. It was still early. We went into a little cafe and a young lady came out and we had a bad language breakdown. I know the word for coffee is cafe' but when I said that I got a very long sentence of espanol in return. Hmmmm....She managed to tell us to wait while she ran across the street and got a guy out of a store (he was working) and drug him over to translate. Turns out she was trying to tell us that it would take a minute to brew the coffee! This is typical of Domincan people. They don't want to dissapoint you and will go way out of their way.
OK, onward. The ride from here was VERY up hill. At one point there is an uphill hairpin turn that I didn't see coming really and 3rd gear was 2 gears too high and, yeah, I stalled the engine again. Getting going with a rider up hill and not roll down hill is an adventure for me. But, we got going finally and found the club about 3 miles further up.
They didn't look open but the owner, Jose, insisted that we come in and he would get us beer and food. He was especially anxious to please when we told him we were friends with Steve. We sat and talked with Jose for about an hour and had a couple of beers. Jose couldn't make the food happen eventhough he was on the phone with the cook trying to get him to come in to work! Jose is showing us the softball trophies. In talking with Jose and looking at our map it seemed like we could make our way back to Luperon another way and not have to backtrack. We're up for it!
Back to Los Hildagos but this time we go straight through town with no turns which should take us to a town called Villa Isabella. Now we had been to Cabo Isabella on our last bike trip and we can tell on the map that Villa Isabella is close to that so it shouldn't be hard to find the nice road we took the last time.
OK, it was impossible. Once in Villa Isabella, we asked for directions. This consists of me saying "LUPERON"? very loudly and pointing down a particular road to see if I get a 'si' or a 'no'. Well, you get more than that and long and rapidly spoken directions in Espanol are nearly worthless. But we trek on in a directiont that seems consistant with the various pointing and si si-ing! The road changed from paved to dirt. Dirt with big rocks in it. This can't be right. A little farther on we flag down a guy coming the other way hoping he is coming from Luperon.
"LUPERON"? - - - - - - - - - - - - -Imagine a long sentence in espanol there. Often during his detailed directions he pointed nearly straight up into the air. Either there was a big hill involved in this route or we had to board a space ship for part of it. As we were talking, a friend of his rode up and the two of them conversed briefly. Turns out the new guy is going to Luperon (maybe) and we can follow him. Hurray!
The bad news is that the road continued to deteriorate. All dirt, many rocks with patches of soft sand. Some steep hills. We came around a corner and, hello, there's a river. How's this going to work? No problemo! There is a one-motorcyle ferry that takes you across and it is 'driven' by a guy just walking it across the thigh deep water (20 pesos!). The tricky part is going down the steep little hill to get onto the ferry and not rocket off the far end which is open. We managed. I've never seen a crazier set up than this.
After a couple more miles our leader drove up a drive way to a house and told us to wait. He came back out and said 'Live here' and drew us a final little map in the dirt road and said only 7 more kilometers (~4 miles). The road got a little better but not much. Finally we came to a town but nothing looked familiar. If this isn't Luperon we are REALLY lost. . . but it IS. We came in down a street we had not been on before but ultimately found the main street and our way back to Steve's.
I guess when Steve said we pretty much had to come back the way we came he wasn't kidding!
All day as we drove through small 'campos' and towns peope stopped to stare at the Gringos on the motorcycle with the funny white helmets. We waved and said Hola and they waved in return saying Hi, but I wonder if they ever saw the movie "Space Balls" because we looked like we came right out of it!
Back at Steve's we had a few beers to celebrate our victorious return while Steve took the rare opportunity to relax in his hammock. Of course he's always available to make change.
And his young daughter is always ready to have her picture taken. Who could resist?