30 July 2007


Here's a video from the Brugal Rum bottling factory:

The scenic route, medicine and beauty pageants

July 30, 2007

Yesterday morning we left Luperon around 9AM and headed up into the mountains to visit a friend from Springfield, VT, Kristen’s hometown. Anita is here for two weeks volunteering her time and skills with a medical outreach program through the University of Maine. They base themselves at a Catholic mission center in the mountains between Puerto Plata and Santiago and travel from village to village administering medicine and health care. We were treated to a big Dominican lunch of rice, beans, eggplant, chicken, and salad.

The chapel at the Catholic mission.

A banana leaf, up close and personal.

A lucky homeowner in the mountains in the DR.


On the way home we were intent on finding the woman who we heard makes chocolate from scratch. She has cocoa trees growing in her backyard and uses her grandmother’s recipe. We stopped to ask directions from 4 men playing dominoes. After much discussion, one guy knew where to go so he took off and we waited on the porch of the house. All of sudden there was cheering and clapping coming from inside so we went in to see what all the fuss was about. Yesterday was Father’s Day in the DR and the father of the household was receiving his presents to the glee and excitement of all his family members. One son made a touching speech that brought tears to his Dad’s eyes. The chocolate arrived shortly thereafter and we continued home to Luperon.

Upon arrival in Luperon around 6:30PM, we found ourselves in the midst of a processional of teenage girls dressed in ball gowns competing for the title of “Queen of Luperon 2007.” The whole town showed up to watch the event and girls were very self-assured and cute.

The girls patiently wait their turn to take the stage.

The contestants.

26 July 2007

The beach, Brugal and donuts

July 26, 2007


produce from the vegetable truck

Hans taking a break from moto-ing.

Chris and Hans enjoying the afternoon.

One of the more reputable establishments in Sosua.

Here in Luperon, life is moving along at a measured pace. Last week we drove on our moto to Sosua which is 25 km east of Puerto Plata. It was a long moto ride, about an hour and a half, but the beach was worth the drive. The water, which here in Luperon is tepid and muddy, was clear, aqua and refreshingly cool. The beach is a picturesque half-moon bay with a terrific view of the mountains. We’ll probably stop here with Whisper on our way east in November.

On Saturday, we had a visit from a fellow Clarkie, Chris, who is currently living just east of Puerto Plata and conducting research for his master’s degree in International Development. We hadn’t met Chris before so we got to know one another over several cold beers, softball and hamburgers. On Sunday morning, he helped us with Dinghy Donuts which proved to be a big success at the Swap Meet. The word is getting around the harbor that Dinghy Donuts are not to be missed!

Yesterday, we rented a van and a driver with 6 other cruisers for a day-trip to Puerto Plata. We could have made the trip on moto, but we wanted to get supplies for Dinghy Donuts, and it costs almost as much for 8 people to rent a van for the day as it does for 8 people to take public transportation. We started the day off at the Amber Museum where we learned about how amber is extracted and saw many examples of amber found in the mountains of the DR. Most impressive was a chunk of amber with a lizard petrified inside. The next stop was Fort San Felipe at the entrance to Puerto Plata Harbor. The fort was built by the Spanish in the early 1500s and reminded us of a similar fort in St. Augustine, Florida. After lunch we took a tour of the Brugal Rum bottling factory. Brugal is the third largest rum producer in the world and the factory was clean and efficient, but very loud. Unlimited free samples of rum margaritas were provided before and after the tour, much to our delight. We staggered back to the van and then onwards to the grocery store.

This morning Dinghy Donuts made another appearance in the harbor and we had our most successful morning yet! Please direct franchising inquiries to the appropriate regional franchise manager in your area.

19 July 2007

Fame is Imminent!

We found out yesterday that Kristen is going to have an article published in the cruising magazine “Blue Water Sailing”!!! She wrote an article about our passage from Georgetown, Bahamas, to Luperon and sent it in to the magazine last week. Look for it on a newsstand near you sometime this winter!

16 July 2007

Dinghy Donuts – happiness is deep-fried!

July 16, 2007

Yesterday was the highly anticipated debut of Dinghy Donuts at the Sunday morning swap meet. Most new businesses experience a slow start before achieving fame and fortune. Not so with Dinghy Donuts. Fellow boaters sampled the new donuts with the same enthusiasm Homer Simpson had when he chased the big pink donut through the streets of Springfield, Vermont. Sales were high and cruisers in the anchorage are looking forward to their deliveries on Thursday morning.

The founders of Dinghy Donuts.

11 July 2007

A movie!

Gringos on Motos

July 11, 2007

Hans and Kristen on their moto.

Tom and Alex on their moto.

Crossing the river...they haven't built the bridge yet!

We stopped at a tobacco sorting and drying facility in La Isabela. There were about 40 people working there and the work was segregated by gender: the women sorted the leaves, and the men counted, weighed, and monitored the drying of the leaves.

On Saturday morning we set off on our moto to explore the northwest corner of the Dominican Republic. Tom and Alex rented a motorcycle and we were all ready for the adventure. We brought along our tents and planned on camping along the way. We spent the first day bouncing along dirt roads to Punta Rucia, a small, beachside town on the north coast. The beach was lined with food stands and it was teeming with people swimming, relaxing, eating, drinking and dancing. We set up our campsite a few miles down the road on a deserted beach and told stories and jokes around the campfire for hours.

Hanging out at the beach at Punta Rucia.

Tom and Hans watched the cock fight in Punta Rucia while Kristen and Alex sat by the beach.

Is our tent really for two people?!

Sunset at the beach.
We made a fast exodus from the beach on Sunday morning as the no-see-ums were biting us relentlessly. We started the long ascent to the top of the mountain chain, and then had a fun, easy coast down the other side to Route 1, Carretera Duarte, the main road that leads from Santiago to Monte Cristi. It was still early in the day, so we kept going to Monte Cristi. The vegetation changed from fertile and lush mountains and valleys to a cactus-filled desert. The sun was very hot and the air was dry and dusty.

How tall is this cactus?

Monte Cristi was a good-sized town with lots of bars and restaurants, but the highlight was the National Park.

The beach at Monte Cristi National Park. The sand was almost red in color and the waves were really big - fun swimming!

The descent from hiking up "the morro." The Park Ranger said it was 840 meters and had about 585 steps. Well, the day we hiked up it probably only had about 350 steps since most of them were rotted out and we had to climb alongside the staircase. It was hot with no shade, but the view from the top was gorgeous.

To spare ourselves another night of being food for the no-see-ums, we checked into a cabana and enjoyed the a/c, TV, shower, and soft beds.
As soon as the electricity went off at 8 AM on Monday morning, we packed up the bikes and headed back toward Luperon. We drove on Route 1 for a couple hours, stopping off at roadside colmados (corner stores) for cold drinks and snacks. We then turned off Route 1 and drove north, up and over the mountains. The drive was beautiful and we stopped in a few towns along the way to enjoy the scenery, drink cold water and chat with the people we met.

Springfield, Vermont: The Simpsons' Hometown

July 11, 2007

Springfield, Vermont, Kristen's hometown, has been voted the hometown of the Simpsons! The world premier will be held in the tiny movie theater on Main Street on July 21. Congratulations Springfield!

06 July 2007

Hanging out in Luperon

July 6, 2007

Luperon Harbor

We’ve been spending the last few days hanging out with friends in Luperon. Tom and Alex just sold their boat “Blind Faith” so the other night we had a farewell party for the boat. The mood was bittersweet as Tom and Alex were glad to have sold their boat, but sad at the same time.

One last night on Blind Faith.

The bottle-opener had already been moved to the apartment, so Tom had to improvise and use the pliers!

We cheered up last night as we spent the evening enjoying the views from the balcony of their new apartment in downtown Luperon. It was a fun change to spend time socializing in an apartment instead of on a boat!

Relaxing on the balcony with Tom and Alex.

Horses grazing on a nearby field.

03 July 2007

New routines

July 3, 2007

Happy Birthday Liberty!!!

After three weeks here in Luperon we’ve begun to establish daily and weekly routines. This has less to do with time constraints and more to do with the fact that there isn’t a whole lot to do here so you figure that, hey, today is Tuesday, isn’t today vegetable truck day?… it takes all of an hour, but then we know that we’ve accomplished the day’s task and can go about the rest of our daily routine unaccosted by our concience.

So, here is our weekly calendar of events:

Daily Routine:
06.30 wake up
06.45 go running and exercise
08.00 shower, breakfast on Whisper, wait for the wind to start blowing so that the boat cools down.
10.00-12.00 proceed with day-specific weekly activities
12.00 lunch (usually at Pico Pollo in Luperon consisting of rice, beans, chicken or beef, salad and water)
13.00-16.00 Hide from sun and let stomach recuperate.
16.00 Dingy to town to get food for dinner (usually bread and tomatoes), sit in the park, have ice cream
18.00 Back to Whisper for dinner, reading, playing games, socializing with other boaters, etc.
21.00 Cruisers bedtime… yes it looks rather sedentary, but you should try to be active with 90 degree heat, 90% humidity and no A/C, no ice and no cold drinks.

Monday: Fun Day! (this is in order to prevent getting a case of the Mondays, with which Kristen was afflicted for 3 years straight when she had to start the work week) Our Mondays will probably involve going on a day-trip somewhere.

Tuesday: Vegetable truck at 8am, then proceed with daily routine (see above)

Wednesday & Thursday: Boat project days.

Friday: Do laundry and clean Whisper

Saturday: Watch baseball in town, drink beer.

Sunday: Cruiser’s swap meet at the marina in the morning. Go to the beach, drink beer and eat fried food in the afternoon.

Hanging out at the beach on Sunday with Jim and Wendy from Merengue. It's "the" place to be on Sunday afternoons with food stands, loud loud merengue and bachata and cold beer. The water in the ocean is the same temperature as the air so we spent most of the day sitting in the shade talking and people-watching.

The Muelle (pier) in Luperon.

Local fishing boats tied up to the pier.

A double rainbow over the harbour after an afternoon thunderstorm.

A day trip to Santiago

The Monument, in Santiago. We spent a day in Santiago yesterday, Kristen's first time back in seven years. It was all pretty much the same, even the bars and restaurants around the monument were the same and the stores down the main shopping street were unchanged. Although it did seem as if more stores had air conditioning. It was fun to go back to see the changes and to see how it has remained the same.

Pizza! We had lunch at Pizza Hut, our first pizza since we left the States. soo greasy and cheesy!

TV TV TV! (and a store with very cold air conditioning!). It was fun to look in the shops in Santiago and realize that we didn't need anything they had to offer!

A side street in downtown Santiago with some old houses.

El Gran Teatro del Cibao (the theater) in Santiago next to the Monument. Unfortunately it was closed so we weren't able to look inside, but it supposedly seats 15,000 people.