MITSUGIRLY sails off into the HORIZON-review & pictorial
Day 5: La Romana Dominican Republic
LA ROMANA DR
We were in port from 9:30-4:
Now last time we were here, we did an excursion that went to Saoma Island. It was a nice day, just nearly not enough time to enjoy that island. While we were off at Saoma, our cruise friend (Kia and family) were going on a off-road buggy ride. We found out later that day that they never made the trip and were too late arriving. But, she had told me about it and it sounded like a lot of fun. We really wanted to do something "different" and thought this is definitely different than a beach. Sakari, of course, was unsure of it...well, because it didn't involve the beach of course.
I did a little bit of research and decided to book with Pro Excursions. The price was $69 per adult and $35 per child. The name of the tour is called "Pro Buggy for Cruisers" tour.
The tour will only take up to 20 people and they do require a $100 deposit (well, at least for us). You also add in $15 pp for transportation to the taxi's round trip (which was the same as the last time we were here going to Saoma Island).
Interesting facts for your tours' safety & total pleasure:
Pro Excursions sets the standards in Bayahibe in the matter of safety and reliability so that you can enjoy to the fullest your tour with us in the Dominican Republic. This is what you don't know and that you should know so you can appreciate all the extra measures we took during your stop in La Romana...
There are taxis waiting at relay points. If there is a mechanical problem it usually will take no more than 5 minutes to change taxi to continue and the drivers are always in communication. So your road trip is secured.
The tour is scheduled to bring you back at Bayahibe at least 1 hour before ship departure. This leaves plenty of time to bring you back to port. So if any delays occur during the tour we have plenty of loose time, all events have been calculated.
There is a complete first aid kit with people who know how to use it.
A tour will be cancelled in case of extreme weather forecast or if ship skips dock. Deposit refunded.
If a tour is cancelled for other reasons you will be notified at least before your Cruise vacation starts. Deposit refunded
The buggys come in 2 or 4 seaters. We rented 2 four-seaters.
Here's the description online:
Exclusive & Authentic!
Pro Buggy Expedition for Cruisers is a real Safari activity of high quality, driving your own all terrain Buggy. Get away from the crowd, maximum 20 people! This is a Special Edition program only for Cruisers! Pick-up at 9:15 and return to Port before 3:00 PM garanteed.
From the charming village of Bayahibe, aboard our Safari truck, we will set course to the outback country of Benerito. Arriving at our authentic ranch your buggy awaits! At the wheel of your all terrain speedster we are riding towards the sugar cane fields in which you will learn all about this important industry. Eat some freshly cut, sweet & juicy sugar cane.
Then we will set course to reach GATO, at this colorful village the children and habitants will run in the streets to greet us and exchange!! If you have things you would want to give…this is the place. An experience you will never forget and will surely make you wonder!
Leaving Gato, let’s take a new direction via the jungle to meet with a Cultivator on his beautiful plantation. There freshly cooked from his wood stove he will serve us some specialties of his garden. While at the plantation get wet in the famous river of Chavon in its most secluded area. This river offers a mesmerizing view. Hollywood even shot films in that area… Films like Anaconda, Rambo and Apocalypse Now, just to name a few. During your time at the river, lets make a refreshing swim stop on a bed of river pebbles far from civilization surrounded by the Tropical forest.
Sounds like a great day right? I knew we had to book it! And we did!
I set the alarm for 7am, but everyone else woke up around 7:45am.
We headed up to the buffet for breakfast.
We were pulling in at 8:45am. What a beautiful site.
They cleared the ship at a few minutes after 9am and we headed off the ship.
Time for our obligatory picture in port
We would wind our way around the twist and turns of the port, trying to make it out to the taxi stands and avoiding all the souvenir shops, then I remembered this imposter from the last time we were here.
The taxi area was within sight and my legs were relieved.
We inquired where we needed to go and they took us outside of the gates and put us in a taxi van and off we went.
We were told the taxi ride was around 15 minutes, but it was a lot longer than that. I'm guessing at least 25 minutes - 30 minutes.
We arrived at the Pro Excursions building and checked in.
They had the Christmas spirit
We were told to use the restroom if needed, grab some water if you wanted, then they gave us our glasses to wear for the buggys.
We piled into an open-air Safari bus and we were ready to roll.
We were on the tour with another awesome family and it was a great time.
This was our guide, Danny. He was awesome and very informative.
No bugs in the mouth for Sakari. Kendra however...it was still an option because she was smiling the whole time.
We waited for a HUGE group of buggys to go by at this intersection. I didn't think they would ever end. I was hoping our group was going to be a lot smaller (and it was).
Now Danny was telling us that you can get a house there for around $120 a month for the so-so poverty areas. Average pay for the month for someone is around $200 month. He also told us how people didn't really get loans to fix a house. They would just put money into their homes whenever they had extra money to do so. That meant it was a work in progress and it could take 20 years to fix up your home.
There was a poor horse just tied up to a fence with no one around. Hmmm
Specific directions not to have any body parts outside of the truck, but yet..... I remember him getting smacked in the face a few times along the way.
This is the cock fighting arena. It's open on Sundays. Danny told us that a lot of roosters get hit and killed on the roads and he can guarantee that the owner will tell you EVERY SINGLE TIME that it was his "best" fighter to make you pay more.
We had finally arrived at the buggys.
Everyone piled out of the safari bus...I still don't know why I felt the need to take a picture of everyone doing so. ?? LOL
They had given us trash bags to put our things in and said we would need them to keep everything from getting muddy.
I think Kendra had brought enough stuff to stay the entire week.
This was the gearing up area where we received our helmets for the day.
Of course my animal loving child will run up to any animal to pet it. Kam will copy anything and everything "sissy" does. She's in that stage...
We didn't waste any time and headed for our buggy. I opted to sit in the back so that Sakari would have more fun and be able to see. She still claims I sat back there so I wouldn't get as muddy...but we'll see about that.
All smiles and loving this. Yea, we'll see about this too.
A guy with a mask racing to the front of our line. You would think we were about to get held up.
All smiles back there so far
Kam and B were fighting about the front seat of course and Kendra was trying to hold this single mom thing together.
We came to a little village called Benerito.
We would park the buggys and get out and walk the streets. There were a lot of little kids that followed and wave.
El Comedor - dining area
Escuela, which was the school. The guy who ran the school was the principal, the teacher, the secretary and many other things. He earns one of the highest pays there at $600 a month. The school was closed today because if the principal/teacher/secretary needs to get his hair cut or has an appointment, they close the school.
These trees were so pretty and neat. They were very soft and like fir trees.
We headed back to the buggys and off we went again.
There's the masked bandit again coming up along side of Kendra
A small video of us riding the trails...and the masked bandit coming up along side of us...can you guess what he was doing?
Then we came to a small bridge made out of some type of pipes. Dannys hand wove up and down (meaning slow your roll)
As soon as we crossed the bridge, I looked over and seen these starring at me
We must have spooked them because all of a sudden a whole bunch of them came charging out of the tall grass. Like A LOT of them. I screeched and wasn't sure what to say or do other than "OMG, punch it Myrtle". They came within inches of hitting our buggy and then I remembered....Kendra was behind us!
Or was she?
I didn't even see her. I really wish I would have caught this on video. LOL I actually talked to her afterwards about it when I was showing her the pictures and she said she was coming up over the bridge and seen them fly out of the grass and in front of her and she stopped and waited.
Well, so far so good. We were all dry and having a blast and then this......
The hubby drove around it the best he could and very slowly. LOL LOL LOL
It looked like Kendra was doing the same. (Notice that B is now up front. When we were at the little village, he cut the tour short and ran back to the buggy and hopped in the front seat and strapped himself in. He was making sure that he got the front seat this time around).
We came across an area with a lot of men laying down by the side of the road. There were horses tied up and they all had machetes. The men, not the horses. 😉
We came to an area with a river. I just knew it had to be the Chavon River. I had heard about this place and had read that a lot of films were filmed here.
This was our welcome committee. I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to get out of the buggy, if they were going to stay still, if they were going to charge us like the others or what to think.
This was a place we were supposed to come and swim and wash off the mud. Well, we really weren't that muddy so far. However, Kendra....I think something must have scared her along the way 😉
It was VERY rocky in the area around the river. In order to get in, I took my shoes off and ouchy owie on the rocks. Normally I collect some sand from every place we go to and put them in these small little glass vases to display in a curio cabinet I have in my "fish" room. Well, since we weren't going to a beach this time....I collected a bunch of these rocks. hehe
I don't know about this place. It was pretty and all but not being able to see in the water and previously watching the Anaconda Movie...I was afraid to go deeper than my ankles.
Now I really don't know, but Danny (and Pro Excursions) claim that the movie Anaconda, Rambo and Apocalypse Now was filmed here. But, when you try to look this stuff up, most of it seems to point toward just "rumors" that they filmed here with many other comments about the "real" places these films were made. Who knows. Most of the time I think it's just something tours throw in as an impressive factor.
Honestly, we didn't stay here long at all. (I had kinda expected a longer stay, especially when they talked about a swim in this river). By the time you make it down here, take your shoes and clothes off, then ouchie owie across the rocks to the area you can swim in, it's time to go.
Back in the buggys we went and we were off...climbing somewhat of a hill.
It was only around 5 minutes and we pulled up to this place. I wasn't sure where we were going or what we were doing here since we had just stopped.
We all got out and Danny told us we were about to eat.
We walked past a place where they had a fire going and preparing something.
There was a huge palapa with tables.
Danny started pulling out drinks for us. Coke, Water, Sprite and ....Columbus Dominicano Rum!
I was busy taking in the scenery and seen the Chavon River down below us.
Then they brought out the first batch of pineapple and bananas. It was so yummy and hit the spot.
Time for a little bit of Rum and Coke.
Then they brought out some fried salami, plantains, and yuca fries. Now I have to say I have had the yuca and plantains many times before in other countries and other excursions and I have NEVER thought they tasted anything like this! THESE WERE AMAZING!!! Like so so so good! I was amazed and shocked at the taste they got out of these!
Everyone ate and ate and ate...and we needed more rum to wash it down. Then Danny and the other lady that was on our tour said that it taste even better with Sprite and it goes down so smoothe. Well, of course we had to try that as well. It was yummy.
We decided to take some pictures before we left. I stood up and OMG! Where was I? Who was I? Who are you? Why am I on a Tilt-a-Whirl right now? Whew! Help me walk. LOL
Alrighty then...you mean to tell me that I still have to walk all the way over there to get back in the buggy in order to leave? Like all the way over there? I need front door service right now please and thank you. Whew!
I swayed, I stumbled, but I was a weeble wooble that didn't fall down. I made it to a buggy...someone's buggy. I'm not sure. I was pointed in the direction of ours...and of course it HAD to be the furthest away!
Then off we went for an adventure of a life time and I didn't give two flying flarks how dirty we got now and neither did the hubby! LOL BRING IT ON!
I handed the camera to Sakari and told her she's responsible for the pictures for awhile. Now that I review this movie, I'm pretty sure it probably has the same focus as I did about then.
Not a care in the world at this point.
Heading into the sugar cane fields.
Let me formally introuce our photographer...the man with the mask that would zoom past us over and over to take multiple pictures of our tour along the way.
My goal was to take pictures of him as he took pictures of us. I didn't want to leave him out right? Psshh, I was too drunk to care. It was a game at this point. (And a funny one at that).
We stopped along the way and they told us to beware of the snakes and some other kind of poisonous man flesh eating bacteria monsterous creatures of the sugar cane field...I don't really remember at this point (well, really I didn't remember at THAT point).
B was the ONLY smart one of the bunch. He said screw the bag over the belongings and ganked that bag and wore it to keep from getting muddy! Tell me that kid isn't smart!
The crew, I have no idea where this guy came from...I think he was our pit crew that followed behind us in case of any emergencies and to make sure no one was to break down, chopped down a stalk of sugar cane and started pealing off the bark.
I really wasn't sure about this stuff. It was tasty, but a weird consistancy. You would chew on it and suck out the sugar and then spit the cane part out. Interesting to say the least.
Then off we went again.
AND NOW IT WAS TIME FOR FUN!!! Since B and Kam were fighting over the front seat, Kendra talked her into riding with us. But, she was still in the back seat but with mamaw this time around.
There was no slowing us down. It was full speed ahead and no one cared. Well, by no one I mean no one that had any feelings left in their legs, arms, feet or brain for that matter. Those that cared consisted of the munchkins. The alcohol had all of us adults pretty distorted.
Well well well now... this is what Danny has been telling us to do the entire time.
I look over at Kam and her hat was falling off and she refused to put on her sunglasses. At this point, there's a glimmer of a smile there and she was laughing. My kids have side by sides and they go riding all the time. They go to big events with miles and miles of riding and camping out. She's use to that. BUT, the diference is, she's riding in luxury then compared to now. Their side by side has doors, a top (which is removable), a windshield, they even put in a heater and a fan and also a radio. Well, this is hardly any of these things and she had no idea what was in store. Although they also have 4 wheelers, she usually stays in the side by side.
Kendra finally took the plunge too I see.
On to the next "puddle" lol
I don't know what made me decide to sit in the middle. I guess I thought I would have a better view but....I think it just got me muddier and I should have hid behind the hubby. LOL
Whoopsy...Kam was starting to look worried.
Danny pulled over to see how we were doing. He screamed with excitement to see us all covered in mud. "Now that's what I'm talking about!"
I like to call this next video "SNORKELING" LOL Seriously! This one did us in and the sound in the video sounds like we are snorkeling.
My La Romana shirt I purchased from our last cruise is no longer white...and it still isn't after washing it when I got home. LOL
It was starting to get a little cloudy and I think I felt a sprinkle or two but it only last maybe 2 minutes. I was hoping for a little rain to wash off. LOL I did hear other cruisers say that it rained a bit while in port though.
We came back to where we started from.
Kam was not happy AT ALL at this point and was in tears.
We had to take pictures of us covered in mud for the memory. We were soaked. Sakari gave it a thumbs down at that point but she was just watching these videos with me while I was posting them here and she said she had a BLAST!
They do have an outside shower to rinse off all the mud. We rinsed off and we put our equipment up and sat down for a moment while they prepared our pictures they took of us along the way.
So, it was our turn to get our pictures of the day the blue bandit took of us.
He took 85 pictures total of our family and we purchased them for $60 (which wasn't bad when Kendra and I split the cost at $30 bucks each).
However, I get home to view the pictures and I am VERY disappointed in them. They are the worse. Yes, we seen them on the small laptop they had set up and either we were too drunk to realize it or they looked a heck of a lot better on the screen and maybe it really pixelated during them copying it onto a CD. But they are terible. I didn't ask or see what type of camera he was using, but they need an upgrade! Maybe he doesn't know to put it on "sports" mode if he has it? You need that for moving objects to get a clear picture. I mean how do you think I get such a clear picture when we are moving? Focus please! Just focus on the right setting. I'm so disapointed. So, if you take this tour, I highly suggest saving your money and not buying the cd unless you don't have a camera to capture the moments yourself.
I don't know. Maybe I'm just a perfectionist and a photo freak. I would just find these pictures unacceptable to present to customers and represent a company. Maybe they'll hire me and I can come to live there? hehe At least a few months out of the year?
It was time to get back on the open air bus and head back to the Pro Excursions place.
Immediately Danny broke out another bottle of rum. Oh boy.
Well ok...he hands it to the girl in the other family. She immediately starts to chug. LOL "No, no, no, that's not right. You pass it around until we yell stop and THEN you chug". Let's start again. She hands the bottle to her boyfriend....what does he do? He immediately starts to chug it. LOL Then the mom (who was hilarious and she was a nurse too so we had a lot of drunken nurse talk on the way back)....chug, then the other son, chug. Well heck, we all just gonna chug. We're making up our own rules now! Kendra gets it and just pours it into her can of Dr Pepper she brought with her. LOL