Remember that scene from Police Academy with the Blue Oyster Bar? When, within seconds, those cops realize they’re in a place where they have no business being and it’s not going to end well for them? That was the exact moment we stepped off the bus in the village of Las Terrenas on the Samaná Peninsula.
Day 3 – 6
Suddenly, about 10 Dominicans came running at us, wanting to convince us of the absolute necessity of their mototaxi. They’re as insistent as flies. Are we crazy? The three of us on a motorcycle with our bags? (We find out a few days later that it’s definitely not crazy). We set off on foot. It’s a small village, that’ll be right away. I know exactly where our accommodation is.
Breath! … Exhale! … I’m creating!
Ugh, we’re here, Pete’s throwing up from stress, I’m changing my underwear. Was it an hour or two? It was more like a year before we found it. We’re barricading ourselves in the bungalow, we’re only here for 3 nights, we’ll survive.
The accommodation itself looks fine:
We make our first pass through the village. We know we have to get some food before it gets dark. We set off again. The village consists of 2 large streets and a few side streets. How do you imagine a small village? A few people and a stray dog? How about hundreds of people, dogs everywhere, a few pigs with them, now and then a dog bites a pig in the ass (no, it’s not a joke), it’s one big joke, dwellings built only of twisted metal sheets, dirt everywhere, noise, thousands of motorbikes running like missiles, loud music from the shops and endless stares from the villagers. Absolutely no white people. Some of the villagers have machetes, some have shotguns. They’re all staring at us.
It should be a 15-minute walk to the beach. We don’t make it this time, it’s starting to get dark, we turn around and look for food shops. We find a supermarket, an absolutely classic supermarket, where we buy our supplies and head back to the bungalow. We gasp again, filling our cramped stomachs and trying nervously to sleep.
The next day we head to the beach and explore the village more. Slowly we gather the courage to look the villagers in the eye. We discover that they’ve actually been smiling at us the whole time. We smile back. And that investment is returned in the occasional greeting. We say hello back. Sometimes they smile at us to the point that it looks like they are mocking us, but maybe they are just so excited to see two such tall figures with pale skin 😀
We don’t meet any villagers on the beach, finally we see pale faces and tourists. That’s always a pleasure. We are starting to feel more cheerful. The beach here is a different world already, a couple of small hotel resorts, a few restaurants right on the beach and a couple of half empty bars. All on a nice touristy level. The walk along the beach is great, palm trees all around, the occasional blind man walks by and sells you a coconut. I bought one. His younger assistant chops off the top of the coconut and tells the price. I hand over a bill. They don’t have change. They don’t like the coconut, but they let me have it for free. Maybe we’ll meet again.
We have lunch at a small restaurant on the beach. It’s kind of a brunch, exotic fruit, coffee and experience leading to the next rule.
Rule #4: Always read the information at the end of the menu
There are surcharges for being on the beach and city tax. Together, about 30% of the total price. The waiter has a complaint but doesn’t get stumped and patiently explains what I’ve overlooked. I calmly accept and accept change. I give 100 pesos straight to a passing blind man for a coconut and we set off in search of whales, horses and waterfalls.
It’s getting dark. The romance of the sunset on the beach is slightly overwhelmed by the fear of passing through the villages beyond the darkness.
Petya manages to make a new friend during his few days in Las Terrenas. The local dogs are actually very polite (that’s why we universally referred to them all as Gently dog), affectionate and the biggest danger was at most from their fleas. But they’re not human fleas, so we’re not that afraid of them. We also find that a forkhorse can actually be a handy tool when you discover that the bungalow doesn’t actually have a kitchen or amenities like plates or glasses.
We survive 3 nights in Las Terrenas quite successfully. By the last day, we feel like the people on the street recognize us and greet us with even more enthusiasm. The noise of the motorbikes and the noise of the streets don’t bother us so much anymore. In fact, just like the cops in the Blue Oyster, we end up liking it quite a bit. At this point, we have no idea that we will have the best memories of Las Terrenas in the Dominican Republic.
We reach the bus this time in just a 20 minute walk. We get on, stare open-mouthed at the disco lights inside the bus, put on our sweatshirts so we don’t freeze on the bus, and head towards the capital city of Santo Domingo.