For our next two bouts of touring we forwent the motorcycle and piled into a 4-wheel drive SUV with the crews from Antares and Blabber. The first order of business was to find the boat on the hill. We learned about the boat on the hill story from Antares, they had been told about it from a cruiser they met down island a few years ago. The story went that a cruising couple came to Luperon and, like many cruisers do, decided not to leave. They tried to sell the boat but when it didn’t sell they decided to just move it up into the mountains and live on it there. Fast-forward to the last baseball game we went to and Keith and I were talking to yet another ex-cruiser now living in the mountains- he had just come down to see the game. Antares came along and it turns out our new acquaintance was the guy who had told them story about the boat on the hill several years earlier. It was not his boat, he just watched it being trucked up the mountain side. (Understandably a memorable moment).
Off we went to find it. We didn’t really have good directions and in fact Antares and Blabber had drove around the day before looking for it. They kept pulling over and asking the locals “boat?” and pointing up the mountains. The locals kept laughing and pointing down towards the coast. “No, Puerto Plata!” This time we found the road- I have no idea how a semi got up it- but there it was. A boat. On a hill. Up a crazy steep, windy road.
We had good timing and the owner was standing by the road and immediately welcomed us to come see. We spent a few hours talking to him and meeting his wife. We also got a tour of their home they built further up the hill that is completely off-grid. Really interesting and welcoming couple.
After the tour of the boat and house we got led on a walk through the mountainside where we got to search for fruits. It was like an adult Easter-egg hunt! We scored a stalk of bananas, several avocados, and some oranges. We had way more fun than should be expected on a walk. We also got lessons on caterpillars and coffee plants.
After our walk, we were led on a tour of the very tiny village and were introduced to just about everyone. We stopped at the one tiny shop and all bought drinks and snacks. Hopefully that sent the owners profits through the roof for the month. We bought a sack of avocados from one of the farmers. The entire sack was less than $3.00. We added these to our already collected finds. Wholly Guacamole!!!! From there we visited with the other ex-cruising couple we met at the baseball game who also lived nearby. Their house had amazing views and we enjoyed getting to know them more. By the time all the visiting was done the day was almost gone so we just toured a few of the smaller towns and drove around the countryside. We then rented the car again a few days later to go to the city of Santiago.
In Santiago we toured a cigar factory. Neither Keith or I are cigar fans but it was part of country, it was free, and our friends were really excited about it which made for a very fun time. The only two facts that really stuck out for me was that they had to make 250 cigars a day and they could smoke what ever cigar they wanted while they worked.
After the tour we were starving and saw a flood of people in uniforms walking down the street. We figured they were on siesta so we filed in line. They were headed into a shoe factory. They were coming from lunch not going to lunch. They pointed us in the opposite direction and we found the employee cafeteria down the street. It was just about empty when we got there but they still had food and were more than happy to serve us. We got a huge lunch for under $5.00 for the both of us. And it was the best cafeteria food I’ve ever tasted!
After lunch we headed downtown. Santiago is not a tourist city but because of its location in the center of the country and its production it is very affluent in parts. Other parts not as much. Both were interesting. We walked around the arts district. We were in search of the free museum that displayed the old Carnival Masks. On the way we found several art galleries, watched a rehearsal for a play, and found that the museum we had been looking for closed for remodeling.
Just when we had given up the hope of finding the masks, Ben found them. They were a bright collection to look through.
I thought nothing would top the driving in Puerto Plata, the traffic in Santiago managed to do that. Glad we were in a car. There is certainly so much more to see of the DR, but I think I am good on the cities for right now!