On the final day of our long weekend tour of the Samana Peninsula we decided to take the long route home. It was Independence Day so the town awoke slowly (though as ever, not us – awake at 6.15!).
Checking out at 10am (why does packing 2 bags always take so long with 4 kids?) we headed toward Las Terrenas – described in the guide books as probably the best tropical paradise in this land of tropical paradises.
Las Terrenas fully lives up to its billing. We arrived around 11.30 following the coast for the last 10 miles, seeing glimpses of palm-fronded shallow beaches, stopping at one of them for a paddle where we walked 50 metres into the sea and didn’t get our knees wet! The town of Las Terrenas starts with it’s own mini-airport (El Portillo), where small planes ferry the well-heeled directly from Santo Domingo and other towns. After the airport start a long row of small hotels – hotel on one side of the road, beach on the other. After 2 km or so the road swings away from the beach and the town proper starts. Even the town – typically Dominican – had a happy, relaxed, clean and welcoming air to it (or maybe that was just the weight of our growing expectations). We stopped at a road-side polleria – where we bought a whole, wood-smoked chicken for lunch with out Samana-bought bread. Eating it on the beach (on our towels again – the loungers here were £3.50 per half-day), looking out over the shallow beach, out to the reef where waves were crashing, was just fabulous.
Kite-boarders sped across the bay, making tremendous leaps as they turned at the end of each leg. Yet we could hardly feel the wind, protected as we were by the headland to our right.
The long & winding road
At 4.30 – again conscious of driving in the dark – we left Las Terrenas for Nagua. We took the newly constructed toll-road (DOP$ 450/£8 – but it saved at least as much in petrol!). The ride through the mountains was fabulous. Deep drops to the right, cut-away construction cliffs to the left. More than a few tight bends (not quite Italian Job, but pretty close!)
A very large part of the land through which the road is build, is owned by the current President, his relatives and cronies. Bought before the road was planned (at very cheap prices), the land is now worth many, many multiples of the price paid and is being sold off in chunks. Far be it from me to accuse without proof – but it wouldn’t be the first time that a President (in his country or in many others) has enriched himself through a spot of insider dealing.
Abruptly, 45-minutes after starting, the toll-road ended. Relieved of our toll, we were back on the road to Nagua. Tired, over-loaded on sun, sand-encrusted (us and the car) we arrived back half an-hour later, dusk having been beaten thanks to this fabulous new road.