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Sunday, October 6, 2013
Christopher Columbus’ brother Bartolome’ along with thirty Spanish nobles founded a town in 1495, and named it Santiago De Los Caballeros, while they were searching for gold in the interior of the island. Today, it is known simply as Santiago.
After a severe earthquake that destroyed the old town, it was rebuilt on the eastern banks of the Rio Yaque.
Farms here grow sugarcane for rum, or tobacco for fine cigars.
We continued along the foot of the mountain range, called the Cordillera Central to the town of Jarabacoa. This area known as the Dominican Alpes, host some of the most beautiful houses in the country. Many are owned by foreigners.
There are several natural sights to see here. One is the Salto de Jimenoa, a waterfall that cascades 20m to a refreshing pool below.
In the distance from the town lies Pico Duarte 3,175m high, the highest point in the whole Caribbean. The peak lies at the southern border of one national park, with another right next door, and covers an area of 1,530 sq/kms. of rain forest.
Driving here, in the DR commands your complete attention. Rule#1….There are no rules.
Every type of vehicle use the roads, driving 5 abreast on a 3 lane highway. City driving is a symphony of horns with cars coming at you from all sides. Traffic lights cycle very slowly, some drivers ignore them all together, most intersections are jammed.
We took a room at the Hotel California, and with the words of song,…”You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave” , in our heads, we called it a day. It was a bit strange because we were the only ones there. We had the pool, courtyard, patio all to ourselves, breakfast included. The price……$25.
According to our guidebook, the road south from here was reported as poor. What a surprise we got when we found it to be newly paved. We drove slowly up over the steep mountain road to Constanza, another small farming town. Along the way, the hills are covered with terraced farms. The mild climate means apples, strawberries, and peaches can be successfully cultivated. These small communities in the mountains have constant spring like weather, so it was a nice reprieve from the heat along the coast.