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08. Nov, 2009

Las Terrenas

Beach Party in Las TerrenasWith no sense of urgency, I decide to take a late bus to Las Terrenas.  There was a huge beach party planned for Punta Popy today that was to start at 2pm.  But a quick check using my Dominican time translation program, really means it may start around 6pm.  So no rush.   Digging deep and shelling out a whopping 260 pesos, I head off towards Las Terrenas on the 11am bus. It’s not an express bus, so I know we will make a couple stops before I get there.

A few hours later we are on the Samana Peninsula, and start making stops in different cities. First Sanchez then on the the city of Samana. The bus continues to head East, and I know the road to Las Terrenas is back in Sanchez. But hey, who am I? This guy drives this bus everyday. I’m sure here is another road that cuts across the Peninsula somewhere ahead. So I keep waiting for the bus to make a left and turn North somewhere. Hmmm… Before you know it, I’m in Las Galares! On the Eastern most tip of the Peninsula. WTF? Even though I checked with two people, including the driver about where this bus goes, we did not go to Las Terrenas. Oh well. Good thing I left early. I can get mad and frustrated, and enjoy my tour and adventure of the Samana Peninsula.

I get off the bus and catch another ride in a guagua heading back to the city of Samna. This driver was in NO rush at all. It was about a 40 minute drive, but with him, it took over 1 1/2 hours! I swear, the guy never got out of second gear. Welcome to the Dominican Republic. Once in Samana, I get dropped off at what is like an outdoor market. There is a guy there with a pickup truck that takes people to Las Terrenas via Limon. So I jump in the back. Before we get underway, there are 8 people in the back of a small pickup truck including all the sacks of potatoes, rice, and boxes of who knows what else people are carrying with them. About an hour later we make it to Limon. It was actually a great way to see the country and back roads of Samana. Nothing like riding in the back of a pickup. Unless you have a motorcycle that is.

Once in Limon, I had to transfer to yet another pickup truck to make the last leg of the journey from Limon to Las Terrenas. Since it’s a long weekend, I am sure there are lots of people (tourists) in Las Terrenas this weekend. So on one of our stops, we picked up a working girl. I bet she will be making a killing tonight in Las Terrenas.

Finally, about 7pm, I arrive in Punta Popy. You can hear the massive sound system on the beach from miles away, and see the lights and lasers from the same distance. I started to mingle with the crowd and meet a few people. Or course, rule number one. Make friends with the models. Marlboro was there and Marilyn and her friend were both models tonight. Rule number two, meet the DJ’s and anyone who looks like they are part of the production crew. DJ Nacho, DJ Giacomo from Italy, and DJ Stan Courtois where all there. Around 9pm a couple people came out juggling fire. The night was starting out pretty cool!

At 11pm, the party moved into the town of Las Terrenas into a club there called Gaia. It was definitely the happening spot to be this night. In addition to the above mentioned DJ’s there was also DJ504 spinning vinyl and DJ Nasty from Santiago that really got the crowd hopping!

With smoke, lights, lasers and 3 stripper poles, the club started getting out of control around 2am. There are three floors. The top floor was DJ 504 spinning vinyl and playing really chill lounge music. On the second floor was 80’s, Hip-Hop, and some Merengue. But by 2am, everyone had moved to the first floor where DJ Stan Courtois from NYC was playing House and Electronic music. With people dancing on the tables, and jumping up and down everywhere, the crowd was almost in a frenzy. We finally closed the club down around 4am, and it was time to get some sleep.

I went with DJ Giacomo to Hotel Coco Plaza, and crashed there for the night. Well, at least for a couple hours. It was a good first day, and what I am sure will turn out to be a long weekend.

07. Nov, 2009

Gatún Locks

Gatún Locks, Panama Canal

About an hours bus ride North from Portebello is the city of Colon. Back in the day, Colon was one of the wealthiest cities in the Americas. Today, it is still home of the second largest free trade zone in the world. Just outside the city are the Gatún Locks. Built in the early 1900’s during the construction of the Panama Canal, the Gatún Locks raise or lower ships the necessary 85 feet between Lake Gatún and the Caribbean Sea. It was then, and still is today, one the greatest engineering works even achieved.

07. Nov, 2009

Portobelo

Portobelo

Black Christ, Portobelo Panama

Today, Portobelo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was founded and built in the late 1500’s and was the port city for the town of Colón Panama. It was used as a silver exporting port for the various fleets of Spanish treasure ships. Being at the center for a wealth of silver, Portobelo was heavily fortified with many forts. But despite it’s fortification, it was a victim of the attacks by Captain Henry Morgan back in the mid 1600’s. The town was captured and plundered and stripped of all of its wealth.

Today, Portobelo is a sleepy city with a population of less than 3,000 people. You can still see many of the ruins of Fuerte San Jerónimo, Castillo Santiago de la Gloria, and San Felipe de Sotomayor.

Portobelo is also the home of the Black Christ (El Cristo Negro). Iglesia San Felipe de Portobelo, the parish that houses the statue, has been destroyed and rebuilt many times. The original parish was destroyed during Captain Henry Morgan’s pirate attack on Portobelo, and was later replaced by a small wooden church. Today, the present church, without the bell tower, was completed in 1814. The bell tower was later built in 1945.

Each year on October 21st, thousands of pilgrims are drawn to one the largest religious processions in Panama. They come to pay homage to the statue of Jesus Nazarene, or better know as the Black Christ.

07. Nov, 2009

San Blas Islands

Here are the San Blas Islands

07. Nov, 2009

Cartagena

Cartagena

Dancing in CartagenaCartagena is a beautiful city full of color and life. As one of the most exciting cities in the world, Cartagena has a lot going for it. Boca Grande is a peninsula very similar to Miami, full of hotels right on the beach. Clubs, shopping districts, and fine dinning everywhere. I stayed across the bay in a district called Manga. Since I sailed here via boat, I was staying in Club Natico which is a nice place all by itself. It’s really fun to meet other cruisers, find out where they are from, and share stories.

But what Cartagena is really know for is Centro Historico, or the Historical Center of town. Its the largest Colonial Zone in the New World, the upkeep of the city is second to none. At over 400 years old, the streets and buildings are so well preserved they look as though they were constructed yesterday.

05. Nov, 2009

Our Adventures

Follow our adventures in and around South America

19. Jan, 2009

Arriving in Lima

Today we arrive in Lima, Peru. After customs and immigration, we were greeted by taxi drivers that wanted to charge 45 Soles to get to Miraflores. The exchange rate at the airport was 2.75 to the USD, that seemed a little steep to me. So before jumping into a taxi and making the trip to Miraflores, we headed across the street to a nice cafe where we met Juan who was extremely helpful.

Juan, besides being an employee, was probably one of the most courteous and nice guys I have ever met. He gave us access to FREE WiFi and told us how to catch the city bus, and where the local banks where. If first empressions mean anything. Juan did a great job. And Peru is looking really really nice so far.

We left the cafe and headed out of the airport to catch a city bus. Looking for the bus with a big “S” on it that will take us to Miraflores. 2 Soles and 45 minutes later, we were in Miraflores and in awe of the city.

We just saved 43 Soles (about $15 USD) and were in a city that was clean, quiet, very pretty, and from what we were used to, muy tranquillo.

We exchanged some money here for 2.85 and then had about 3 hours to kill before Mariano, our couchsurfer buddy arrived home.

Like two kids wondering around in a candy store, we just enjoyed the sites, sounds, and people of Miraflores, Peru. We found a small family reasurant on the street, and decided it was time to eat. The food was great and was more than enough to make you full. The most interesting thing about our meal was the drink. It was chicha morada, or purple corn juice! But I’ll tell you, it was the best corn juice, any color, that I have ever had. It was really good. Turns out that chicha morado is like the national beverage here. Since then, we’ve had it many times!

We finally met up with Mariano who’s a great guy, and a tour guide as well. After staying up till 2am, I think we finally had somewhat of a plan on what to do and see here in Lima for the next couple of days.

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