It’s been a while but the structure of the recent posts has been around “the notes'” trip to Republicá Dominicá. This is the last. Stay tuned for a photo special from March and April here along the Right coast…
Cabareté, DR-Days four, five and six passed in an even pace of relaxation, surf, siestas, dinners, and rested sleep. After arrival at the Val-Maré, we were given the royal treatment by the condominium caretaker Alex and would later play around the ground with his son Alejandro. Along a hill line just up the beach road from the break, the condos are surrounded by green fields, banana trees, palms, and green grasses. The only visitors besides us were the cows or horses sneaking treats from Alejandro. At first, the fixture of such a tall gringo kept Alejandro’s curiosity at bay, though it was not long before we were up to childhood mischief. I was told to behave and Alejandro threatened with no swimming time so the wild roosters and chickens were free from our torment. Time passed unnoticeably. Mornings were spent at the beach; afternoons were spent at the pool or in the breeze and shade of the room, reading and napping, occasionally rising for cold beer; evenings were spent on the beach side of Cabareté, lounging under strings of lights stretched along palm trees and tables lit by candle. Todos tranquillo. Such an even mien hazes the memory. Details seem rather fuzzy, as if on the edge of sleep, which is easily explained by the frequent siesta. Yet there is certainly more. There is a humming from within. A steady gentle vibration which rises from inside and lays gently over all till the person knows this is what it means to be on Caribbean time. That would be days four, five and six. What follows are snippets of travel journal and pictures of each day-as best as I can remember.
“28 Feb. ’11-Cabareté, DR. No idea on swell-east-ish at maybe 3-5′ @ 9 seconds, trade winds. …the walk to the beach is easy, the hardest stretch being along the main road and near lawless, speeding, metal death…this place is schizophrenic. Its temperament wavers from tranquillo to “man, I can’t wait to get the hell home.”… Surfed the famed Encuentro. Funky and mediocre. Had I been home I wouldn’t have gone, but the water would have been just above 50°F. This was clear, blue and 75°, so I went. Two waves worth mentioning. Both rights near “Coco Pipe”. Long walls and glassy till mid am…stories of the trade winds are true. By 11 most everything is indistinguishable from blown chop. We spent 50 pesos on a beach lounge chair attended by Mejuco and his dogs. Dried off, walked home and relaxed in the shade by the pool. Alejandro met us at the gate with a squirt gun for drowning ants. Amy rolled her eyes and let me off the hook to play…rest of afternoon spent drinking cold beer, reading and napping-in no particular order.”
“29 Feb. ’11 Cabareté, DR. [corrected upon arrival home for an actual date existing on the calender-1 Mar. 11. Que sera.]. Still no idea of swell. Maybe 6′ @ 9 seconds? …am surf was cleaner, little more solid in size, good sets. Head high and better. No barrels at “Coco Pipe” so the name remains in doubt, but got a nice wave from a gypsy motorista cabbie. Thanked him and that bought me a couple more. Then he dropped in all over me. Ah well, his house…walked east along the shore to Natura Cabana for lunch-a secluded little resort/spa built into the natural vegetation instead of gutting it. Twice the beach disappears in lava rock and the trail wanders up through the tree line. Discovered a wave all to ourselves which kept us from lunch. No problema as lunch blends from breakfast and gently merges straight into dinner. There is no time. Walking home we write the names of our family in the sand and let the Atlantic carry it home, north to Carolina…walked the street of Cabareté for souvenirs for Abby before crossing through an alley for dinner on the strand. In the street old white men pick up hefty Haitian prostitutes with 40 oz. beers. On the strand are candle-lit tables, colored sun sails lit by hanging lamps and excellent meals-place is schizophrenic…interesting trip. Beautiful and dirty, good surf and poor, kind and indifferent…I am ready to go home. Not ready to put on a wetsuit. Ready to see my daughter, my dog, my home…”¿
“2 March ’11, Cabareté, DR-Miami, Fl International Airport. 2-4′ at some weaker period. In the airport in Miami. This am I was surfing small, clean and crystal clear waves…at first sight through the palapa the hope was a falling tide might make more face to ride. Brought only the 6’4″ thruster. Posted up under a palm and slept while tide fell. Amy disappeared around head point in beach for a morning walk. The local dogs followed her in some sort of innate sense of protection as they had adopted her the last two mornings, particularly the black lab that arrived by scooter every morning…woke up and the surf was still small. Worked a deal to borrow a longboard. Choosing the board was interesting. Kid working the shack wasn’t too sure about loaning a board for free. Quizzed on frequency of surf, how good, and, finally, tested with, ‘which board you want ride?’ Suddenly had flashbacks of adolescence…rounded 9’2” with no rocker, single fin, tons of weight. Thing had been reattached in the middle and seemed to have added weight with the repair, but it was a solid stick. Choice was approved and board granted. Heavy was perfect for the glassy, Caribbean mush. Rode well. Even met the former owner in the water. “Hey, that’s my old board. Guevarra shaped it for me in Maui” Good noserides and sweeping drives. Ownere looked like he might give it another shot. Not sure it can survive it…Amy returned in view with her dog pack. Cold beer and rinsed and headed for the plane…sitting in the Miami airport we scarfed down big bacon cheeseburgers and a good old fashioned Budweiser. Each little girl that passes brings me closer to home and my own little girl. See you soon little one. Thank you Sonny for watching the house and our girl. Voy a mi casa y Carolina norte.”
A trip planned as nine days became seven. Not a one was left without some story or view of interest. So, over the next several posts you can read some of the notes for the seven days spent on Hispaniola as well as check out some of the pictures. Starting with the first…
While at UNCW I played ultimate frisbee for the university team, the Seamen. This is how I met Boling. From there things became increasingly feckless, away from the field anyway. Like the time we visited Charlotte on the tab of my brother (then with the Carolina Panthers) and ended up knocking out another teammate with us on the trip with a well thrown spiral in the parking lot of my brother’s apartment complex somewhere just before dawn. There was the challenge to eat the full American breakfast at 2002 College Ultimate Nationals. Or perhaps the spitting shower-of-cheese incident in NY Pizza at 2am which first made it clear his fiance would be the perfect compliment to our friend. She gave him the cheese to reload after his first volcanic blast. For his bachelor weekend in Folly Beach, SC…well…I am relatively certain I was there. On the field Boling’s play was dominant and my trust for my teammate was unfaltering. He never gave reason to expect otherwise.
So, when he emailed to say he was having a destination wedding in the Dominican Republic there was no question. We were going. Sorting of funds revealed that the budget would be tight, but for Boling we would make it happen. Like jumping in an unlocked car to drive the remaining four blocks back to the beach house from “downtown” Folly (there were no keys, fortunately, a fact which did not prevent Boling from the attempt or the immediate backing from a mutual friend-couldn’t let our man go to county alone. “Uh Jill, we’ve lost Jon…”). The Excellence at Punta Cana is an all-inclusive resort. The attending members from families, the bachelor weekend and several graduating classes of Seamen players and their wives spent two and a half days making back the $300 nightly charge with Mammajuana (a spiced rum not a typo) and Presidenté beer. The resort was beautiful and the ceremony classic and, given all other noted anecdotes, surprisingly classy. Boling and his beautiful new bride Jill, as well as their families, were incredibly gracious and we counted ourselves lucky and honored to have been invited. To “day one”.
Since there will be new addition to “the notes” soon, it only made sense to take our friend’s bodé and tag on a few extra days before the now mandatory Disney excursion (read, find surf and go there after). The flights which were the most accommodating meant traveling through Miami. Here at the notes, Miami is avoided like connecting through Philly-a guaranteed disaster-or the removal of your fingernails by tweezers. There was the time “the notes” flew out of Miami when the travel bag was loosened by the cabbie and landed in the middle of I95 resulting in a near fatal stabbing with a broken fin. Another exchange resulted in a detaining in TSA security for questioning the sanity of one line of passport checks despite three podiums and four more attendants simply watching the first-a specter with both feet in the grave. Miraculously the little nod to the gods before boarding this time worked. The travel bag, with all clothes-lucky since “beach chic” is different from naked- were actually waiting under the thatched roof of the arrival baggage claim.
So, the first and second day? Well, I could bore you with tales of the limbo, Bo the friendly pooh bear and Iraq War gunner with seriously nice style, the complete upheaval of one wing of the resort resulting in non-wedding party guests dancing on their balconies surrounding the reception. There was also the snorkeling trip aboard a catamaran with Captain Valentino and his apron slogan “I may be shy, but I have a giant penis”. In the last case I would be lying since one look at the transfer pangas was enough for “the notes” to slip off and sleep it off under a palm-thatched beach hut. However, if you’re a reader here then you’re not interested in such trifles. You’re here for the surf and the travelogue. If you’ve travelled for surf then you know the on-time and ding-free arrival of your boards, especially when connecting through Miami, is a story. But just to tempt…
Punta Cana is resort filled and beautiful. Clean and well-kept for its target audience, the only danger may be the airport transport. The roads are actually better than say, Costa Rica, but the bravado of the drivers and their complete disregard for any sort of driving regulation often leaves the front seat passenger to close their eyes and wonder how bad this will hurt. Before leaving there were numerous warnings, “don’t leave the resort”. The transport to the resort would prove such advice unwarranted. Other than nearly blasting into a cow broadside around a blind turn, there was not even the danger one might find on the DC Metro. Third world yes, but no different from any others labeled such, excepting only the piratical hangover still present in the characters of some of the Dominican people and Hispaniola’s norms and morés. Excellence at Punta Cana even has a rolling wave reminiscent of Poipu Beach in Kauai if you want to cool off or work off a (several) Presidenté. While the rest of the days feature the stories of travel and surf, this one covers the first and the second and is really just to honor my friend and his new life with his now better half. Without them there would be no others and “the notes” would have still been stuck at work and in a 4/3 wetsuit with booties and gloves.
One last piece of advice…while staying at Excellence at Punta Cana be certain you do not draw a full sip of hot coffee before turning on channel vente-uno. What you will see will really scramble your head at 7:30am. Cuidado amigo.
Thank you Jon and Jill. Congratulations.
There have been plans for an accumulated story on a devotion and passion, a few longboard sessions, some do-it-yourself trailer repair with the help of 96 Charters (check the blog under blogroll) for spring fishing and swells. Ultimately, little has actually been accomplished other than remaining afloat as North End Landscapes comes into the summer season and the classes I’m responsible for at the high school have been knee deep in their studies. So, chuck it all. It’s warm south. So, the Notes is headed south and then slightly north of there. A true amigo is set to wed and for that we load up, call in favors for babysitting and hop a flight towards the Dominican Republic. After a weekend of helping our friend celebrar su bode, the notes moves to the northern Dominican in the area of Caberete for lounging with Mrs. Notes for a week. Sold the whole idea as a last chance for a get-a-way before the new little niña arrives and all saving goes towards the inevitable Disney pilgrimage. Unfortunately the data rates for the web card just aren’t in the budget for a trip funded on unpaid bills and juggled credit. So, follow along with the tweeted notes (northendnotes@twitter) and check back here for photos and words on return. Be sure to grab a copy of Local Sessions for some new pieces coming soon. Till then, here are some shots to tide you over.
Thanks for checking in.