Dominican Republic Day Nine : A Last Walk At The Altos De Cano Hodo Eco-Lodge, And A Long Drive To My Airport Hotel
I awoke early Thursday morning on my recent visit to the Dominican Republic knowing my trip was coming to an end. I would be leaving the beautiful Altos De Cano Hondo resort, which I had come to love, later that morning. Arrangements were made for me to be picked up for my three hour drive to the airport near Santo Domingo at 11 a.m. I did not want to leave this amazing place. It was like living in another time for five days. No stress, except deciding when and where to hike and explore the beauty of this remote area. So I was a little sad when I descended the now familiar stone road and walked over to the entrance to the Los Haitises National park to watch the sunrise. But I was also glad to have had, and shared, this wonderful experience.
I arrived on the road before the sun. I watched some horses in the fields and listened to the crowing of the roosters. I totally immersed myself in this tranquil bucolic scene.
The sun soon rose over the fields,
providing me with some more vivid memories and photographs to share, of this magical place. I walked under the now familiar trees along the trail leading to the boat docks at the National Park.
As is always the case, after I finally learned where and when many of the local birds would feed, my trip was coming to an end . I saw many of the same birds I have photographed on previous days, including some gray king birds,
cattle egrets both in the fields and perched in the trees,
and this beautiful Hispaniolan lizard-cuckoo also perched in the same tree where I saw it on my previous walks.
Unfortunately, on this morning I did not have a lot of time to try and capture more photos of the birds. I continued walking hoping to find a new species of birds, butterfly or lizard before my adventure in the Dominican Republic ended. As I walked along the road I did find this delicate white mushroom growing in the grass.
After walking to the boat docks, I returned to the resort and followed the trail along the rice paddies that led into Los Haitises National Park. Here I again saw some horses roaming freely along the trails. However, these were different horses and not the same horse family I had seen on my earlier walks on this trail . There were many horses, cattle, pigs and chickens roaming freely here. during my stay. It is like living in an earlier time when things were so much simpler in this remote part of the Dominican Republic.
I walked along the grassy road between some rice paddies and partially forested fields were cattle roamed and grazed . On this part of my hike I saw a few birds including familiar mourning dove,
There were usual flowers I have seen and photographed on my previous hikes including the pretty, but invasive smooth yellow rattlebox flowers.
some of which have produced their legume like seeds.
They were many anole lizards scampering on the trunks of trees.
When I stopped to photograph one it grabbed a caterpillar with it’s long tongue.
I could spend hours hiking and exploring these trails but I had to pack and leave by 11 am. so , after about a 3 mile hike, I was walking back up the steep road to the Altos de Cano Hondo resort for the last time. Here is a link to a gallery with some photographs from my morning hike. Dominican Republic Day Nine Altos De Cano Morning hike October 28 2021.
I had my last hearty breakfast, showered packed and found my driver waiting for my at the front desk. I was glad he spoke fluent English. Unlike my drive to the resort I knew what awaited me on my drive back. There was first the 6 mile dirt and rutted road from the resort to the town of Sabana de la Mar.
The road wasn’t as bad as I remembered it coming to the resort. My driver this time drove much faster. He lived in the nearby town and knew the road. I think my driver on my arrival was a bit too cautious with his vehicle. It was still a slow drive but, a very scenic one. We watched cattle crossing,
We passed many motorbikes that are the most common transportation from the village to the resort. It was a nice twenty minute drive to the town.
My driver had to stop at a business he owned in the quaint little town.
We also stopped at a market owned by his family. He had me say hello to his 85 year old grandmother. What a wonderful experience. .
I enjoyed my tour of the town and would love to visit again someday. The town is famous for the humpback whales that breed in the warm waters of the Samana Bay in January.
We left the small town and began our three hour 100 mile trip to the airport. I now knew that driving the roads through the mountains would be slow for a number of reasons including some poor unpaved roads, dangerous curves and many small villages along the way. Each village had speed bumps that required traffic to slow down.
I loved the ride. The driver who brought me to the resort spoke no English. This gentleman spoke very good English and I learned so much about this part of the Dominican Republic and the people who lived here. There was a lot of construction in the mountains. It looked like many of the roads were washed out by heavy rains. Many of the roads were dirt and rutted and so we had to drive slowly for miles at a time.
As I observed above all of the villages we passed had speed bumps as you entered and left. The speed limits in the villages were obeyed. Although it was slow going I enjoyed my travel through the mountains.
About half way on our drive, as we were leaving the mountains we came to Hato Mayo de Rey the largest city in the region with a population of about 70,00. It was established in 1520 as the center of the largest cattle raising area in the New World. So much history here. Someday I would love to return here and roam the street of this and the other cities, towns and villages of this historic country.
We stopped at a little road side shop and deli. Here, my driver got a snack,
and I had a real good cup of coffee.
I love visiting these small shops and restaurants on my travels.
After leaving the city we drove out of the mountains and unto sugar cane and cattle country,
The roads were much improved and the small towns were more frequent. I was told we drove through the small towns were the famous baseball player Sammy Sousa was born and still has a large home . His father worked in the surrounding sugar cane fields. New York Yankee second baseman also has a home near here where he plays Winter baseball.
We soon came to the modern interstate highway which I noted in my previous blog is well maintained and similar to the interstate highways in the United States. I was soon saying my farewell to my driver and new friend and checking into my hotel near the airport. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs from my drive through the mountains to the airport. Dominican Republic Day Nine drive to airport October 28 2021.
I was staying at the modern Hampton by Hilton at the Santo Domingo Airport hotel. It was around 2:30 when I arrived. I was staying two nights because of the requirement I test negative for COVID before I would be allowed to board my flight. My return flight was early Saturday morning. The hotel was air conditioned and I was freezing as I approached the front desk. I was happy to learn my room was available. I immediately inquired about the COVID testing . I was advised they do testing at this hotel, but I was disappointed to learn the nurse who does the test had left for the day, She would return at 9 a.m. I was advised the results would be available in a few hours, The fee was $75.
After checking in I went to my room, turned off the air conditioning , and grabbed my camera to explore the neighborhood around the hotel. I inquired where I should hike and was told it wouldn’t be a good idea to hike anywhere around the hotel. This didn’t discourage me and I was soon outside in the mid afternoon sun.
The hotel was situated on a major highway in a commercial zone so it wasn’t the best place to walk but I still wanted to explore the neighborhood. I walked away from the airport and found a mixed neighborhood of large businesses,
small family owned businesses and
There were a lot of small restaurants and cafes, where I found the patrons to be very friendly. It seemed that it was not a common thing to see a tourist with a camera walking on these streets.
As I noted neighborhood was very mixed. There were a lot of automobile repairs shops and gas stations, I think because of the proximity to the airport,
old dilapidated houses and small businesses, including a lot of small restaurants that sold chicken,
and some more nice residences,
I walked out to the major truck access road to the airport. t was about a mile from my hotel so I decided to head back.
On my walk back, just by chance I looked up at a large tree, which I later learned was a tamarind tree, and saw a hummingbird hovering over the flowers on the tree, When I later edited my photos I saw this amazing lucky photo of the hummingbird sitting on a branch of the tree while feeding on a flower. I never saw a hummingbird sitting before. I was glad I ventured out for a walk. You never know what you will see.
I returned to to hotel, edited photos and had a very disappointing meal at the hotel. I was surprised since it was am internationally known hotel and next to an airport. Unfortunately, there were not many alternative dinning options in the area. I should have ate at this place I saw on my earlier walk. I spent the evening working on my blog and looking forward to watching the sun rise over the Caribbean Sea in the morning., Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs from my afternoon hike. Dominican Republic Day Nine Airport hike October 28 2021,
“Not all those who wander are lost.”