What starts out as a day long excursion with an early pick up from the hotel, morphs into a bumpy bus ride. There are several stops along the way. First stop is a small colmado with a little restaurant attached. Fortunately for me as breakfast was late being served at the hotel. A quick bite and it was on the road again. Next stop a small finca that grows coffee and an assortment of other vegetation. A simple tourist stop to add to the tour. A quick change of buses sees us off to the National Park.
Bordering the Samana peninsula, Los Haitises National Park is a protected sanctuary. This forest reserve has limited road access. The roads washout regularly from heavy rains. What we consider impassable, tour buses forge their way through. This is not an area where you want to drive yourself. Though that is possible, you don’t know the conditions of the road that lies ahead. Haitis is a Taino word for highland or mountain range. Geologically unique, it is one of 4 places in the world with these formations and is the 2nd largest.
Arriving at the destination, we disembark from the buses. A small harbour awaits us with several boats at the dock. Once we are all in the boats we motor our way through the mangroves. The eco diversity of the flora and fauna are a must see. Many different varieties and species exist in harmony. This is nature at it’s finest. This a botanist’s and birder’s paradise. I am no expert on the geology, flora and fauna, and google is your best friend. I’ve done some research and this is a tremendous ecosystem. I encourage you to go online for more detail this is a rare jewel on our planet.
Caves were inhabited by Taino Indians or possibly pre-dating Taino, and many are adorned with pictographs and petroglyphs. These caves created by water erosion are abundant in Las Haitises though the majority require a special permit to enter and very few are fortunate to acquire these. Safety is an issue as sinkholes are a hazard and preserving the integrity of the pictographs and petroglyphs is of paramount importance. The tourism caves present a good introduction to what otherwise we don’t get to see. A UNESCO site, preservation is key to keeping history alive.
We wander through many caves and the imagination is fired with the thoughts of piracy. A stone carving of a Tiki man stands at the entrance to one of the caves. Is it real I wonder. So many things are staged these days. I determine that yes, it is real, though not likely authentic. That’s ok, the imagination runs wild. Images of hunts and cannibalism run through my mind. No, wait, that’s the South Pacific. I do wonder if that ever has happened here in DR. The caves themselves that are open to the public are a little treacherous to navigate. There is no lighting and the wetness leads to slippery rocks. Hand holds are in limited supply. A group of military-type personnel were touring the caves and were kind enough to give me a helping hand. Thanx boys!
With one group of caves done it’s back in the boats off to explore yet another. It’s amazing what you see where you least expect it.
The tour of Las Haitises completed it is time for lunch. The guide confesses to me, “we keep the lunch until later in the day when people are very hungry, the food really isn’t that good.” Then he grins and laughs. It’s a true story! The tour wraps up with a trip to a “Spa.” That’s a little laughable. The spa is a small waterfall in yet another finca, with a riverbed of clay that people rub over themselves and rinse off in the river. It’s not a spa by any sense of the imagination, but it sure is fun!
The little finca was alive with activity. Having gotten bored with the festivities in the water, I opted for walking around the farm. My curiosity drew me to this unique chicken coop styled like a teepee. The farmer was a very friendly man and we engaged him in conversation. I bought a couple bananas from him for a “Real” food snack. I don’t think many tourists stop to talk to this man. He was overjoyed at having conversation from me. Hey, yea, I’m cute, but not that cute, lol. At the end of the day he chased me down getting to the bus and gave me an entire bunch of bananas and thanked me for the conversation! Life! Only in the Dominican Republic.
Well spent the day ends sleeping our way home on the bus!
I am awestruck by the beauty of this region. This night I dream of pirates plundering and pillaging, and hiding out in these caves … where will the next adventure be?
Listen to the palms…
© Loca Gringa and https://locagringa.wordpress.com