Traveling to Sosua
After one heck of a day of travel, we finally reached Sosua, Dominican Republic after 11pm at night. I actually started my travels on Wednesday, made a short stop in Dallas to see my family, and left for DFW with my friend Rootie at 6 in the morning. After connecting in Tampa and Miami, we eventually landed in Santiago around 9. Santiago, unfortunately is a two hour cab ride from Sosua! We normally would have flown into Puerto Plata, but the airline connections were even worse!
The people here are extremely nice! Our cab driver found Rootie’s sweater in his car, and he brought it to her while we were checking in. Our hotel, Sosua by the Sea, is right on the beach. I look forward to exploring tomorrow afternoon. For the immediate future we had a challenge with the A/C in our room. After an hour, it hadn’t cooled and eventually we realized, while the fan was blowing, no air was coming through the vent!
We planned on melting through the night, but called to have someone fix the problem tomorrow. The staff was extremely attentive and a worker was knocking at the door in a few minutes! They ended up carrying all our unpacked items to another room! We enjoyed a cool, deep sleep night until 5 am when an alarm began beeping in the hallway. Thanks to Rootie’s and the staff’s efficiency, the beep was gone in a few minutes.
I suspect, so far, this sounds like a dumpy hotel and several complaints. Frankly it didn’t really bother me, as the staff is fantastic! And who can complain about a hotel right on the beach, with beautiful views, a great buffet breakfast, and a nice pool area! It was just a short night!
Through email, the hotel staff helped us find a dive shop too. We had a two tank morning dive with Northern Coast Aquasports set up for 8:30. We took a short boat ride in a water craft that had seen better days to Airport Reef. Admittedly, this was not the best dive…low visibility and not too many fish! The best part was seeing a juvenile moray eel.
The second dive, however, was a different story. In the shallower depths, the water was much warmer and clearer, and we saw several cool critters…conch, spider crab, scorpion fish, fire worm, flamingo tongue, a few puffers and a variety of butterfly fish, tangs, etc. I can’t say that Dominican Republic is the place for diving, but it is the place for seeing whales…starting Sunday.
The dive shop has a cook, and it provides lunch for its staff and for only $4 we could have a home cooked meal too! We were all over that…fresh grouper with creole sauce, vegetables and white rice…YUM.
A Little Sightseeing in Sosua
After our short walk, with a small detour back to the hotel and a stop at a moving fruit stand (guy pushing a wheelbarrow of fruit down the street), we spent the afternoon lounging by the hotel pool and walking on the beach with the waves lapping on the shore. We checked out a new residence and spa that was absolutely magnificent and then set off for drinks at the corner bar before dinner.
We ended up walking just a few blocks for dinner at Bologna Italian Restaurant. It seemed like the popular place to go for Valentine’s Day. Actually, Valentine’s Day seemed like a popular “holiday” to celebrate in Dominican Republic. Red and white balloons, store fronts featuring red dresses, restaurants with red table cloths, and boys stopping into the restaurant with roses seemed the norm. More than half the day had gone by before we even realized it was Valentine’s Day…haha. We shared a great baked Camembert and Goat Cheese appetizer before we chowed down on very good pasta entrees. They let us enjoy our dining experience and after a few hours we turned in for the night.
More SCUBA Diving
On Friday we sampled more of the breakfast buffet before we took a more direct route to the dive shop. After our dive briefing we strolled to the beach, waded through chest deep water to clamor up the ladder into the boat. This one had a bimeny. We had a new captain and dive master, Luis and Alejandro respectively who took us along with Rose and Bob to Coral Gardens for our first dive of the morning. Our first dive was lovely with a variety…a sand dollar, garden eels, two fire worms, flamingo tongue, SMALL grouper, squirrel fish, peacock rays, several trumpet fish, a baby eel, and a variety of other Caribbean usuals! The fan coral was nice and the sandy bottom held a few treasures.
The trips to the dive sites are so short that we came back to shore to pick up four more divers for the next location. It was a tighter fit, but nothing too uncomfortable and Mini Wall was just a few minutes away. Believe it or not, here we saw some different fish…a few juvenile angel fish, some rock beauties, wrasse, blennies, box fish, and a snowflake eel. A pleasant dive, a bit cold, and overall while nice, the marine life was somewhat depleted (either due to over fishing or lionfish killing the reef). I can only hope the whales will be more plentiful!
While the diving didn’t rank in my top five, the people have been spectacular…friendly, helpful, honest. As we schlepped our dives bags back to the hotel, boys on every street corner asked if we wanted a scooter ride. They pointed us in the right direction when we were slightly misguided yesterday. They take care of the stray dogs, which all have nice coats and a plump belly. There is no haggling with the taxis. I’ve really enjoyed the locals and the ex-pats…several Europeans (during WWII the Dominican Government provided Jewish refugees land and resources).
On our way to the Silver Banks
Our hotel granted us a late check out, called us a taxi to Ocean World Marina, and we rode as passengers with death grips on the arm rests of our van. Our driver honked at anything moving or stopped to say hi, to let drivers know they should drive faster, or to let scooters know he was passing. I’m certain they knew from a mile away that he was coming, as his music was blaring! Rootie asked him to turn the Spanish radio down and he accommodated her, only to inch the volume back up in 30 second increments too reach high decibels again! He gave me his card once he had dropped us off in case we wanted to use his service again…hmmm! I know Rootie would say no, but she wants to ride a scooter…seems about like the same danger to me.
We took advantage of our last chance at wi-fi before boarding our boat, Turks and Caicos Aggressor II. It is a dive boat, being used for whale watching snorkeling tours for a few months. We have 17 passengers and 7 crew. Our rooms are on the small side, including bunk beds, a sink, shower, and toilet, two drawers and a small closet. We’ll be best friends or enemies by the time this trip is over! The salon is loaded with food and the sun deck is amazing…complete with a hot tub and wet bar. We will be enjoying the top deck when we aren’t snorkeling. The crew confirmed that the whales have been amazing! I’m wrought with anticipation.
I’m signing off after a pork dinner and a few hours socializing with passengers who have come from Austria, Canada, the UK, and around the states. Everyone is a diver on a snorkeling trip, and it sounds like all have been on a live aboard previosly. We make the crossing to the Silver Banks at midnight tonight. It should take 9 hours, so we should see whales by morning! The forecast looks good for the week and should allow for a smooth crossing! ETB
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