Troy and I took a little trip the other day with our friends Shaggy and Camilla. We went to Cabarete, a little tourist town thats about 50 miles from Luperon. In fact, it kite surfing capital of the world. A friend that we met through other cruisers, Tony and Rosemary (actually Tony's brother), Michael lives in Cabarete and he has a regular gig on Monday nights. He plays music at a little restaurant there and had invited Troy and Camilla to come and play with him. Camilla is a very talented musician and she plays with Troy every Saturday night here in Luperon.
We decided against taking the motorcycle since the weather looked promising for rain. The next best, and least expensive way to get there is by gua gua.
Luckily for us, Camilla is from the DR and, of course speaks fluent Spanish. We would need to take 2 different gua guas and one bus to get to Cabarete. The total cost was 150 pesos per person, or about $3.85 in US Dollars. What a bargain. Gua guas are personally owned cars and vans that run a route, usually between two different cities. What a cultural experience.
On the bigger vans there is one guy on the gua gua whose job is to collect money, tell the driver when to stop to let off or pick up passengers and to make sure everything goes smoothly. On our ride from Cabarete to Puerto Plata, we were on a mini-van with 23 other people. We were packed in like sardines and our guy was hanging out the open sliding door of the van. He has a big wad of cash in one hand, he keeps up with how much every owes, who has paid and who hasn't, takes money, gives change and taps the roof to signal the driver when he needs to stop to pick up or let out passengers. When there is a stop he pulls, pushes, tugs, shoves, moves, whatever it takes to get everyone out or in or out, then back in and settled again. It's really a pain when the guy in the far back corner wants to get out. Everyone - out, back in, scoot closer to your neighbor and hope they didn't have too many habichuelas (beans) or ajo (garlic) for lunch. Meanwhile, the driver is talking on his cell phone, listening to the radio, driving as fast as he can, all while honking and trying to pass all other vehicles that he encounters. In fact, it seems like the objective of driving here in the DR is to make sure that you pass as many vehicles as possible. Wow! What a ride. The only thing missing was a chicken or two (trust me - chickens and small livestock are transported via gua gua).
Troy and I have had so much fun here in the Dominican Republic. The people are so friendly and we have really enjoyed practicing our Spanish. We have made so many good friends here, Dominicans and Gringos from all over the world. It will be hard to say good-bye, but we are planning a return visit for next hurricane season, so that makes leaving a little easier.
So - - - how may people can you fit in a gua gua? Two more!!!
If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home. ~James Michener