Home page

Next Page

One of the people we met is Derrick, a foreigner who worked as a dispatcher for the taxi drivers' union.  He arranged trips and scheduled taxis, both cars and vans, for  English-speaking cruisers and hotel guests.  This was his primary job on weekdays.  On Saturdays he worked at one of the restaurants waiting tables and bar.  On several occasions we had the opportunity to chat with him.  Bob didn't seem to have trouble understanding him, but after listening intently and being totally clueless about what he was saying, I said, "Derrick, I'm having a devil of a hard time understanding you.  What is your native language?"  He answered, "Scottish," with a heavy brogue.  I didn't feel quite so bad after he told the following story.  One afternoon he was in a restaurant standing at the bar when a newly-arrived cruiser came in and asked a question.  Derrick helpfully answered him, providing the information requested.  The cruiser said, "Sorry, I don't speak Spanish."  Turning to the seated cruisers, he asked, "Does someone here speak English?"

Another interesting story is how Derrick got to the DR.  He lived in Scotland and sponsored a child in Burma, but after a while, lost contact and asked for another child to sponsor.  The second child lived in the Dominican Republic.  Derrick didn't want to lose contact with this second child so, after writing some letters, he got out his atlas to see where the DR was and made arrangements for a fortnight's holiday here.  He stayed at a resort two towns away and visited the child twice.  Each year for several years he traveled to the DR.  Each time, he grew closer to the child and treated the child and his mother to new experiences beyond their financial means such as traveling to Santo Domingo, the capital, and going to the zoo.  Derrick fell in love with the child's mother, moved to the DR, and now they are building a house in Luperon.  Derrick is an unusual person.

Fences in this country were a real curiosity.  They were placed around the nicer homes, schools, and hospitals.  We were told that they were used to keep animals OUT.  Rather than always fence the animals in, cows, goats, pigs, horses and donkeys were seen wandering down the streets and even on the highways.  Usually, you saw one to several animals meandering along alone.  Herds of cattle were usually fenced in, but it was obvious that the previous custom was to let the animals wander and to fence the house to protect plants and flowers.

Fences were constructed of bamboo, board, or barbed wire strung between posts.  The posts were the peculiar part of the barbed wire fences.  A few "normal" posts were used but mostly small saplings from two to six inches in diameter were used.  Many of them have taken root and begun to leaf, starting to grow again with the barbed wire stretched between them.  Cacti were sometimes planted along the barbed wire and filled in the spaces.  The barbed wire alone or with the cacti served as a clothes line with the laundry laid on it to dry.  We wondered if the clothes would not be damaged.  Sure enough, as we were talking to Derrick one day, Sam noticed tiny pin-prick holes in his tee shirt.

The most exciting and enjoyable trip was an experiential trip to a waterfall, experiential because you didn't' just look at the waterfall, you got into the pool and ascended seven of the twenty-eight stages of falls and pools and drops.  The water had carved a steep narrow gorge into the mountainous rock so the path of the water was about forty feet down from the mountain's surface.  The stream of water was about two to four feet wide in most places as it flowed along the bottom of the gorge, coming to drops of three to twenty-five feet down into a circular pool and then continuing on in a stream to the next drop.  The depth of the stream varied from ankle deep where you walk to twenty or more feet where you would obviously swim.  The sunlight filtered through the lacy leafy branches arching over the top of the rock high above.  In the areas where the rock was wet, there were ferns and other lush greenery.  The water was cold but not icy. 

At the base pool, there was a sapling-and-hemp ladder to climb and then a nylon rope at the top to pull ourselves the rest of the way up the twenty feet of rock face.  When we got to the pool at the top, we swam along the stream to the next pool.  When we came to the next pool, we couldn't figure out where to go.  There was a four-foot drop of white water gushing down.  Sheer rock was to the left and slightly less sheer rock to the right.  We assumed we were going to do a little rock climbing up the right side.  Angel was our guide and a muscular second guide, Pito, was with us.   We watched as Pito scampered up into the gushing water and made it to the top.  He put out his hand, palm and fingers to the first knuckles flat with the second knuckles and fingertips bent to grab on to our hand similarly positioned.  He lifted us up to where we were supposed to get a hold and pull ourselves on up.  We climbed six such levels.  Each time you would think, "No way we can get up there," and each time, Pito would agilely climb into the face of the gushing water, perch himself at the top of the fall, and then beckon us to join him.   Usually Jerry would be the first one pulled up and then stand behind Pito and help us once Pito got us up the hard part.

Pito and Joan

Going down was a real rush.  The first level down was like a narrow water slide with a drop of three feet.  You had to keep your arms crossed close to your body so your elbows didn't hit the rock on either side.  Since I didn't swim well, I wore a life jacket.  I didn't relish the idea of sliding into the water but I did.   The next drop was again like a water slide but the drop was further, about six feet down.  We did five such slides.  I had heard about the height of the jumps, but when I peered down twenty-five feet into a pool about the size of a nickel, I couldn't believe it.  The others jumped but I kept hanging back.  I was the last to jump.  Angel and Pito were at the top with me and pointed out the deep area to aim for and said to jump out to miss the rocks at the top ledge.   Pito kept clucking like a chicken.  They counted to three and, finally, I jumped!  The second jump and final stage was back to the pool where we started.  There was a cop-out this time, returning by ladder to the pool where we started.  I looked down to the ladder and decided I'd rather jump.  Angel and Pito still had to count to three but I jumped again.  A real milestone of "Outward  Bound" adventures.

Derrick had scheduled the six of us early in the morning so we were the first to arrive.  From the parked van, we hiked across several shallow rivers and into the mountain for about twenty minutes.  No one else was around.  We had the entire falls to ourselves and didn't see other tourists until we had done the falls and hiked halfway back to our van.   When large groups go, they have to wait on each other to be hauled up and then have to wait as each person descends, getting chilled as they wait in the cold water.  Derrick planned the trip well.  This waterfall is a very popular tourist destination.  By the time we left, vans, cars, and pickups full of people in the back were arriving and swarming around the departure site.

Next Page