When traveling, the solutions we arrive at are not always perfect.
At this particular dawn, left the town from Uvero Alto behind, we find ourselves aboard an imported Korean bus, full of sleepy German tourists from Europe.
Joel Montilla, the service guide, knows he has to wake up and activate the passengers.
Armed with a microphone, he questions the group about the nationalities on board. Most are Germans. Austrians and Swiss accompany us. Discording and, of course, intrigued by the rest, there are still two Portuguese. We.
We were still on board, with too basic a knowledge of German. Mine, acquired in two long years of classes at the Gõethe Institut in Lisbon, between the ages of 13 and 15.
Sara's, for learning to listen to her parents communicate in German, for reasons that, by themselves, would make for another long story.
Now, these unusual backgrounds allowed us to understand much more of Joel's calm and paused speech than we were telling. Since the guide made a point of covering all the interesting Dominican topics he could think of, we endeavored to double down.
In this cognitive entertain, almost an hour later, we arrive at the first scale of the day.
When Joel touches on a “Runde Berg”, we know that we are facing the famous M.Round ontaña of Michels.
The guide dictates a transfer from the bus to trucks equipped with seats and powerful four-wheel drive.
We climb the muddy road that leads to the summit, in a rally mode that delights some of the passengers. It makes others panic.
Montaña Redonda: a Hill with Privileged Panoramas
Less than ten minutes later, we landed at the winding, rounded top of the rise, despite the pompous name, a mere knoll.
Even so, due to its privileged location, a place with panoramas all around, some, to the north and northwest, of the Atlantic Ocean, the Bay of Samaná and the Redonda and del Limón lagoons.
Others, in the opposite directions, of pastures furrowed by vegetation remnants, on the slopes of the mountains of Hispaniola for real.
Gradually, a multitude, no longer only Germanic, occupies the zenith of mountain.
Outsiders contemplate its views for a time that they end up shortening, attracted by the diversions that the Dominicans have installed there.
Some line up for the swings.
Others, for the zip line that slides, in L, for the half slope facing the sea.
Standing off the hill, high above the swings, a white cross fixed against a pillar with the colors of the Dominican Republic flag, blesses the place and the stunts and acrobatics that take place there.
Including the upside-down swings that, at times, two guides insist on showing off.
The time allotted for the mountain runs out, but not the wind that punishes it throughout the day.
Heading North and to Miches Town
We return to the foothills, to the bus and to the road Bavaro-Miches, a narrow road that winds through hamlets and villages of fishing origins, until it crosses the Yeguada River, in the heart of the city that lends it the second half of its name.
From Miches onwards, we follow the continuation, already adapted to “Sabana-Miches”, according to the scale that follows. Around Sabana, we turn south towards El Valle.
In this village, we went from asphalt to a dirt road that crosses the rainforest and, in spaces, palm plantations that generate the valuable palm oil.
By that time, the Yanigua River zigzags to the south, in a profusion and exuberance of meanders that, however, we intersect.
We detour to another path, almost a path, lost in vegetation that the proximity of the river thickens.
Rancho Salto Yanigua: The Picturesque Countryside of the Dominican Republic
We stop in the clearing opened by one of the many ranches and haciendas that dot this forgotten Dominican Republic countryside.
A large and bold sign identifies it with the sign fashion that has gone viral in Latin America. Of all colors. It is illustrated with examples of the fauna and flora of these places.
Comprising three floors of increasing width, the sign adorns and identifies the property, without great room for doubt: “Rancho Salto Yanigua.”
Joel Montilla salutes Simón Duran, the owner.
The duo tries to lead visitors to the gastronomic area of the farm, installed, as more than a convenience, on the edge of the river's sunken flow, facing the waterfall that justifies its toponymy.
Over there, over a wood-burning fire, a shy cook bakes and browns coconut bread that fills almost half of a large pan.
The morning had advanced.
At that hour, any soul born to good people begins to feel hungry.
Experienced in the art of welcoming and satisfying strangers, Simón and his family try to comfort them.
Dominican snacks from the countryside, one after the other
with cups of mamajuana, the Dominican national liqueur, they are always guaranteed as a source of vigor, virility or, whatever it is, fertility.
As non-alcoholic alternatives, they offer coffee, cocoa or mocha coffee, in this case sweetened with cocoa chocolate produced in the ranch's organic garden.
We sip a little of both when Simón Duran and the cook begin to serve the coconut breads, still steaming and which they advise us to fill with a nutritious and delicious cocoa and honey cream.
Late, breakfast arrives like a delicacy from the gods of Hispaniola.
Only the inviting flow of Salto Yaniqua, just ahead, deters visitors from continuing to gorge themselves.
In a flash, a crowd of eager bathers floods the river.
The Yanigua River Jump, right on the edge of the Rancho
They give themselves up to splashing, jumping and, for example, by a host who accompanied them, to spontaneous dermo-facial treatments ensured by the whitish clay that covered the bottom of the river.
Juan Carlos, the portrait photographer at the service of the tour, also composes his mask.
In fact, it embellishes itself to double. With a red plumeria exposed above one ear.
"Boys, don't you take advantage of this?” he asks us, almost offended, when he sees us with no sign of the clay he had covered his face with.
Shortly after, without expecting it, we find ourselves a victim of that miraculous mud.
We followed Simón Duran on a tour around the ranch. Passing through banana plantations, plantations of pineapples, papaya and other fruits and vegetables.
We appreciated the house that he had installed in the tallest and leafiest tree on the property, already equipped with a solar panel and other equipment and decorations worthy of adventurous guests.
We chat in its shadow, when a donkey from the ranch joins the group, determined to get a carrot snack or something he's already been used to.
Simón advises us not to pay too much attention to it.
The Troubled Discovery of the Local Amber Mine
We continued on a sort of undercover escape when we bumped into the ranch's mining of amber, larimar and other stones.
Back on the riverside, three Haitian workers were repeating the same sequence of operations.
One of them, at the bottom of a well, was filling a drum of gravel extracted from the bed.
Two others tried to hoist him up on the rope and pour him into a sorting area.
Intrigued, we followed the process, talking. Once, twice.
By some chance, at the third, the drum was fuller.
The men on the surface, dump it on the ground.
The overload generates a ricochet that fills them and us with soggy clay.
It took us almost twenty minutes to recover from the mishap, a good part of that time, to clean our eyes from the semi-precious micro-earth.
When we tell Juan Carlos about the misfortune, the photographer lets himself be carried away in a good-natured laugh: “Ah, so they were treated by force!” concludes in his softened Antillean Dominican Castilian.
We joined the entourage that Simón Duran invited to the tables and to the buffet that complemented the options of the dominican flag, composed of the classic rice and beans with chicken and salad or, in a variant with a name yet to be attributed, with breaded fish from the Yanigua River, just as or more divine.
Fluvio-Marine incursion to Los Haitises National Park
After the repast, we set off for the north, through the terrestrial domain of the Los Haitises National Park. Several kilometers later, already on board a catamaran, through the secluded and remote sea at the foot of the immense mountain range.
Years before, we had already had the privilege of exploring its caves full of cave paintings, works of the indigenous Taínos.
Not everything was repeated. At one point, we saw a heron floating in the sea. She suffered from a defect in her legs, so she couldn't take off. The crew decide to rescue her.
They try several times to navigate shallow and catch it. In vain. Already fed up with the frustration, one of the crew offers to go diving.
It chases the heron that, feeling threatened, does everything to peck it. "Watch out for your eyes! Protect your eyes!” scream companions aware of the damage the sharp beak could inflict on the volunteer's eyes. Finally, he manages to grab her and climb aboard.
The captain brings the catamaran closer to one of the avian islets of Los Haitises, the one from which the bird would have fallen in high probability.
The rescue operation contributed to making even more marked the natural and wild nature that is still so exotic in certain strongholds of the Dominican Republic.
In this nation increasingly surrendered to mega-resorts and colossal artificial environments, such impressions have long been in danger of extinction.
HOW TO GO:
Book your package for the Dominican Republic and its excursions – including Saona Island – marketed by operator Jolidey and available at travel agencies.
Already in Rep. Dominican Republic, you can also book your Saona Island tour or other tours through the agency Visit Dominican Republic