Tag Archives: Villa la Caleta

Villa la Caleta

Feb 18 – We are staying this week in Villa la Caleta, which is run by a very nice Italian named Dario. We are at the eastern tip of the Samaná peninsula, and far from the cruise ship crowds. This area is frequented primarily by Europeans, and we have been hearing mostly French, some German, and some Russian in addition to Spanish.

So against all odds, one of the other villas is inhabited this week by Americans – a retired couple from Philadelphia. It’s strange but nice for us to make English conversation at dinner.

Chris and John have been more places than we have!

Dario runs a little restaurant, which serves an egg and fruit breakfast, and dinner of anything you want as long as it’s spaghetti, at prices much higher than we are accustomed to paying. We’ll have to get creative if we’re going to last the week.

We walked down the beach this morning, arriving after 15 minutes at a resort, with rows of sun worshipers slathered in lotion, lying on beach loungers, and a line queued up for drinks.

We kept walking. There were a few vendors along the beach, selling coconut milk and touristy stuff. I thought these carvings were particularly good.

After another 15 minutes, we reached the little town of Las Galeras, which we had not been able to properly inspect on our whirlwind journey yesterday.

There were lots of little cafés, spas and shops. It’s evident that English is not the primary language here.

English translation needs a bit of work!

The food offerings were still overpriced by our standards, and we had to walk a good way up the street before finding a place where the locals eat. We had a lovely lunch of chicken, beans, rice and salad, then found a very good grocery. Our room has a fridge, so we stocked up on sandwich fixings, a very tasty local cheese, and, of course, some Presidentes.

We purchased a little bottle of Mama Juana – the local specialty drink made of rum, red wine and honey, steeped in various medicinal barks. The locals say it will cure whatever ails you.

We swam in clear waters at the sandy beach.

We took a long walk up the hill to see the sunset.

I think we’ll manage here just fine.

Feb 19 – This morning we broke out our snorkels and set out to see what denizens may lurk beneath the gentle waves. Right outside our villa is a brown coral beach, with lots of places for critters to hide. We had to wear footwear into the water so we didn’t cut our feet on the sharp coral.

I have not been snorkeling since I was a kid in a swimming pool. I had reservations about how clearly I would be able to see under water without my glasses, but I was pleasantly surprised. Lots of colorful little fishies and anemones. It really is pleasant to lie face down in the water and just drift.

Here’s some of the wildlife we’ve encountered.

Hitching a ride!

So this will be our week – eat, walk, swim, snorkel, eat. Repeat. I’ll check back in if there’s anything exciting to report!

Las Galeras

Feb 17 – today was a travel day, and a day worth describing. (Yes, dear friend Tom, this post is for you!) We had our final breakfast in Santo Domingo, and called for an Uber to the bus station, where we rode a big bus north in air conditioned comfort for three hours to Las Terrenas. There was even a movie on the bus!

As soon as we got off the bus, we were surrounded by an eager group of drivers inviting us to take their taxi or moto (motorcycle). We have left urban Santo Domingo, so Uber is no longer an option.

We were looking for the local public transport, or guagua station, but couldn’t find it, although we walked up and down the street where Google said it should be. We ducked into a shop, and a very nice tailor left his sewing machine and pulled out his phone to help us. Nice person of the D.R.!

Turns out there is no longer a guagua heading to our town. The best option was to cross the city of Las Terranas by motorcycle and find a guagua heading for El Limón. Please note that I have never ridden a motorcycle ever, let alone ridden helmet-less behind a Dominican. But here we are, so here we go!

Ten minutes (and $1) later, hair blown back, we were on the other side of town, stepping into our guagua, otherwise known as an open pickup truck. Here’s Jim getting in with his pack. Yes, we sat on the wood slats on the sides. No, we didn’t worry about falling out, as once all nine of us were shoehorned in, there wasn’t much room to move.

The truck took us half an hour (16 miles) to El Limón, where we were instructed to leave the truck and hop into another guagua, this time a van, which was nice and breezy as the doors and windows had been removed. The van took us 15 miles to Samaná, where we transferred to an even sadder-looking van with a cracked windshield, and wooden crates where the seats should be. All the interior upholstery on the sides and top had been removed as well, giving the van a nice, rusty metal vibe.

I thought the van was quite full enough with twelve people plus the driver, but the driver kept calling ‘Las Galeres!’ out the window until were reached our 15 seat capacity. From there, it was stop and go every few blocks, as folks got off and others got on, greeting their friends and keeping up a noisy chatter. Big parcels had to be strapped to the roof rack, and when we passed a grocery, the driver got out to do some shopping. He was nice enough to inquire if anybody else needed anything.

17 miles later, we arrived in Las Galeres. Almost there! We were just two miles from our destination, and guess what? Two motorcycles were standing ready, waiting to take us! I jumped right on, this time. I am a biker pro!

So now we are in our seaside villa, listening to the lap of the waves and feeling the gentle breezes. There is a salamander on our bedroom wall, and cows lowing right beneath our window. It’s good to be home.

Sunset view from our balcony