Caribbean Islands | Dominican Republic | Southern Coast | Barahona – To climb a mountain – Day one
I spent a month and a half of my life living in the Dominican Republic among locals. Life in the coutry, with the palms, the beach and sun was becoming so status quo. So I embarked with some friends on ‘the’ hike of the Caribbean.
I was staying in a small town that was in what we affectionately refered to as the ‘armpit’ of the Dominican. It was a 1/2 hour outside the city of Baharona, and situated in the desert. Transportation around the island is painfully easy, and dirt cheap. So, starting our journey in Cabral we took a guagua to Baharona. This is basically a 1/2 ton with a tarp covering the back. If you wait anywhere along the road the truck will pick you up and for little more than 40 cents it will take you into the next major town.
We started our voyage in Baharona. We purchased tickets for the bus to Santo Domingo, the capital city. The tickets cost about $4 for a three hour bus ride. In Santo Domingo we reconnected buses, and for another $2.50 we hopped an express bus to La Vega. There are different classifications in the buses here. To ride in the air conditioned buses, you have only to put up with the annoying videos they show. To prepare yourself for the ‘express’ bus…you should get used to cockroaches, being packed in like sardines, no air-conditioning and the passionate and might I mention LOUD debates of the locals about politics.
The bus ride in the express to La Vega was again three hours long, but after the six hours of traveling, we had made it within the sight of the mountain. We slept that night, with no real plan for the morning. (Mistake number one)
We caught a guagua to Jarabacoa a neighboring town where we met up with some other hikers. You often to hitch rides with other travellers without any problem. You will however be asked to contribute toward gas. We loaded our gear into the 4X4, and travelled up to the base of the mountain. We arrived at the park, there is an office there, you must register and pay a park fee (about $10). The mountain requires that you have a guide and local in the surrounding area available at all times. We had to decide whether or not we needed sleeping bags, mules and guides. We decided on (as a group so the blame falls on no one)no sleeping bags, 2 mules, and one guide named Santos (and his 10 year old son). (Mistake number 2)They suggest for a group over three that you have at least three mules and 2 guides. But…we knew better, or thought we did.
The first four kilometers of the hike is on level ground. And makes you think that this hike is going to be a BREEZE.
5 Canadians and 3 locals found out different.