I have a saying that goes: “travelers always find open doors wherever they go”; and definitely many times its confirmed. Recently, I moved to Cabarete in Amber Coast or the Atlantic shore of the Dominican Republic. I came here because of the waves, surfers say: ‘home’s where the waves are’. True!
But now I’d add ‘home is where the waves and whales are!’
The beautiful Encuentro a beach near Cabarete, means “meeting” in English, is not only home of waves throughout all year round, but is also a place where people meet with whales… Humpback whales travel from January to March every year to their final destination the peninsula and bay of Samana (distanced three and a half hour’s drive from Cabarete) where they give birth and mate.
We’ve started our adventure from Encuentro, Cabarete.
When we commenced I wasn’t aware of the etymology of our starting point.
Four women (three Russians and me), in a rented car launched on a trip, main inspiration – to see the whales! At least, that was mine. And, after a long time I really desired something truly – to see many whales!
It’s indeed important with whom one travels, and me usually I prefer to travel alone and meet people along the way. This time was different and every one added some extra flavor to the adventure. I have to be honest and say that never connected with Russian people, maybe kind of a stereotype that I had from before. I always felt natural around latino people… although have had some friendships with Russians never truly shared something. With these three extraordinary women, characters for themselves, we shared the thrust for adventure and exploration.
Nataliya Palkina, visiting us directly from Russia, Moscow, definitely ‘contessa’ by appearance and manners, and natural born actress, was always there to cite old Russian proverb. I enjoyed hearing her speaking – Russian never sounded so melodic.…But that wasn’t only of what she was capable of, her protective skills engrained in steeled Russian knife was something that was protecting us throughout all the way, at least to say from some unwanted ‘ghosts’. At the end of the adventure she decided to move to Dominican Republic for some time, and canceled her return ticket to Moscow.
Evegenija or Dijena half Russian half Korean, was spectacular. Always ready to jump to help, to do small things, to take your bag to hand you something that you are looking for, fearless and brave, full of joy and enthusiasm. With her due to the language barrier (she didn’t speak English and my level of Russian is pretty poor still) developed special language that sounded like Japanese. We could understand more with this imagined Japanese sounded language, than if one of us spoke either in English or Russian. So, we’ve communicated like that throughout the trip. Few days after everybody came back to its own nest, she sent me an email saying that in two days she’s moving to Cabarete. Wauuuu! She instantly made all the arrangement and is moving from Bavaro (which is seven hours drive, and it’s on the other coast of DR) to Cabarete. At the moment I am writing this I expect her to arrive anytime here.
Margarita…I knew her even before I met her…the writings I completed before few months ago, talk about the same ‘Margarita’…For me it’s incredibly curious how one is able to capture in advance, yet unconsciously, the principal character of its own book …This Margarita, and that Margarita both have one common and very peculiar feature….and took me awhile to realize that. They both want to see images one after another, rapid change of perspectives like a lane of a film projector…This Margarita, bit of a nonchalant, with tremendous curiosity, rational but yet dreamy like was the official photographer of the trip.
Me, I don’t know – I say to my close friends that it’s not easy to be me… but I love adventure and love to observe people; and took me 35 years to realize that I’m extremist in every sense of the word and I’ll keep it like that, now that I am aware of…
On the way, I could see the faces of people and locals wondering how and why four white women travel alone throughout Dominicana…along the way we had small adventures that enriched the trip even more. Our car was stuck in mud and on a rock, so five Dominican’s had to lift it up with hands; we spent the night in some one’s luxurious villa, they offered accommodation since we couldn’t find any…the next day we stayed in a typical Dominican apartment in the shanty town in Samana…small things that add spice to the travel…
Usually to tourists that visit the island in mass all-inclusive resorts the first thing they say is – this not the safest place to be! Better! Let them stay in the boring all-inclusive resorts, and have the island for people who really want to explore.
Definitely, the island offers a lot. During my stay here I’ve been almost at every part, and every time I am amazed by the beauty and natural richness the island offers.
This time was the same.
Our first stop was Las Terrenas. Of course, we didn’t do advanced booking, this is for people who plan everything; we just let the adventure flow its natural way….
Before reaching Las Terrenas we crossed the high mountainous road all in serpentine’s. The scenery was amazing, I had an impression I’m traveling through Mars because of the reddish intensity the road deflected, however of course with slight difference of having also intense green and blue colors around.
The intensity of the colorful road wasn’t even over when we started to descend to reach finally Las Terrenas…In the horizon above from the ocean on one side and on the other reaching the reddish mountain – a rainbow opened, shining seven different colors. Spectacular view! A gift for our trip…
We arrived in Las Terrenas and spent the night there… Early in the morning first we drove to El Limon village between Las Terrenas and Samana where in the mountain and jungle one can enjoy and swim in spectacular waterfalls high 54m. We got horses, pretty tired though…. mine in English was called ‘timid’. My last horse adventure was in Central Cuba near Trinidad in quite rocky and steepy mountainous area…I have to say I didn’t enjoy it a lot…maybe because I had huge horse and terrain was quite hard for inexperienced riders…
This ride was just great!
We’ve crossed over turquoise colored river and started to ascend through mountainous jungle towards the waterfalls. The trail and the excursion are slightly commercialized but we didn’t matter….it was spectacular scenery everywhere …tropical paradise and mountainous landscapes… At the highest point of ascend, on one side was the jungle with the beautiful waterfalls and on the other the ocean…just breathtaking…we’ve cooled ourselves down in the waterfall and continued our journey to Samana to see the whales.
It took us few hours to make a deal for the boat because we didn’t want to go in a big and touristic one. First, because they don’t get to close proximity to the whales as a small boat do, and second too many people. We made a good deal and rented a private speed boat to see the whales…The speed boat ride to the whales was adventure and adrenaline by itself, mostly because was afternoon and there were lots of waves, and the small boat jumped back and forth in the air and then water almost for forty minutes until the captain located the whales…
We’ve approached to a mother and a newborn…they were relaxing in the deep ocean waters. Me, I didn’t have camera and I don’t regret because I love taking photos with my mind and then turning them in words, and second because we had professional photographer with us….
The level of excitement was getting to its peak because we knew we’ll witness something extraordinary that day. In a moment the boat stopped we all stood up! After few minutes standing we saw in the distance – somewhere 400m an enormous creature jumping…wauuuuuu, excitement and adrenaline…I heard someone asking where, where? I started to show and it took another minute or two– bammmmm another jump in the heights ….but much closer to us…again minute or two and spectacular full jump of the humpback whale…I saw National Geographic photo that day…I saw his black and white body with full intensity of colors above the ocean, his flippers; and the ultimate splashhhh…Speechless..
The locals said it’s really rare to see a triple and full whale jump…and maybe I belief so, this was especially for us…Buzzing in my head from excitement, and I hear the captain saying in Spanish “you saw it and now we go back”. Me, probably perplexed from the idea of going back and leaving this ultimate power of the nature behind…murmured: ‘please stay five minutes more’…he replied: ‘he won’t jump again that’s it’…I said – five minutes more and we go…the two other whales were just next to us all the time…I knew, I could feel that something more will happen…and it did…the mother started to dance and flip around showing off…on every applause and shouting she would do it even more intensely, start swimming and flip to one side and then another, breach a bit and flip over with the massive white flippers…waving at us…
We witnessed the whale’s dance…we witnessed the dance of a women, a joy of a mother; we witnessed the freedom of whales…
Photo credits: Margo_soulXray
Text: JanaLoza – altervoyage