Cabarete Trip summary April 29 - May 6
One sailor - advanced level B&J, 155 lbs.
One non-sailing spouse.
Flew Sunquest charter Toronto-Puerto Plata, returned Royal.
Not bad, although we heard that last minute flyers managed to
get on for half our fare...
The Puerto Plata airport now is finished and beautiful. A
great improvement over 1994. This did not prevent some local
airport staff there from trying to scam us for a few bucks on
the way in.
It has grown somewhat since 1994, sort of expanded around the
edges. I am sorry to say most of the changes are not for the
better. It was very dirty, and even noisier than it was before.
There was always trash all over the place, and surprisingly it
was mostly from local folks. The local May 1st holiday brought
hundreds of locals to the beach area. Each group simply left
all their empty bottles, cans and other ***all over the beach.
The recent introduction of plastics and styrofoam down there for
packaging is having a disastrous result. At least the other garbage
will decompose in those temps in a few weeks...
Bear in mind we live in the rural areas of Ottawa, and don't
like traffic and noise to start with...
Food prices have also risen considerably - probably 25% or more
since 1994. We figured they are now pretty comparable to Canada.
The peso was at about $.10 Cdn, so estimates were easy. A decent
lunch would run you 50-70 pesos ($5-7 Cdn). Beer was about 25
pesos for the better stuff (per bottle). However, a good small
bottle of rum was also about 25 pesos !
Our hotel (Albatros) was still close to same price as 1994, and
still worked out OK. It is showing some age, although the staff
were really good to us. We saw one of the other Vela offerings
(El Magnifico), and it was really posh in comparison. For the
$10 difference per night, we would probably go there next time.
All banos (toilets) in Cabarete now have the 'no paper' rule.
Used to be just on the beach side of the road.
Vela and sailing...
Well, the Vela staff told us we got lucky, as the wind had been
flukey for the few weeks before we arrived. Folks were getting
an average of 50% days sailing. We sailed every day during our
stay, mostly on bump and wave gear in 4.5 and 5.0 winds (155lbs).
The last day was light 6.0-6.5 stuff. Boards were mostly 95 and
96 Mistral and F2, with a few Tiga wave boards around. Sails were
all Pryde, V6 and V8 slalom sails, MPR bump sails, Combat wave,
NR and New Wave save styles. I probably sailed 8 or 10 different
boards, with several sail combinations.
Typically I started the sailing around 1:00 with a bump board
like an Edge or Axxis 258 and a 5.0. As wind 'kicked' at 3:00
or so, I would go to a wave or smaller bump board and a 4.5.
That would last until 5:30 or until I ran out out bandaids for
my blisters. Then it was anaesthesia time ! The waves were
surprisingly good for this time of year. They were well over 8
feet on the reef most days once the wind helped them out.
I actually sailed in the waves intentionally this year, and have
a vague idea what all the fuss is about ! What a hoot !
Also, the crowd of guests at Vela were mostly really good folks.
Suprisingly, lots of folks from west coast US, too.... We had
a great time with them, and several of us chummed together for
meals and happy hours.
6.0-6.5 V8 and Axxis 278 (although liked Energizer as well)
5.0-5.5 MPR and Electron with Teardrop (Axxis 258 close second)
4.0-5.0 Wave NP or MPR with Tiga 254 in waves. Did not have
a chance to sail Mistral Eruption - heard it was a great
board, but only two there were always out :-(
Other stuff ....
We did the biking tour 'downhiller' with Tricia and the Iguanamama
staff. It was a blast, and I hope Vela and Tricia continue this
affiliation. Nice gear - Scott, Kona and Specialized bikes. You
drive for an hour in the back of a pickup through the hills up to
about 3000 ft. Then you come down via roads or 'off-road' (your
choice) with a group and guides. The off-road is actually an old
road which is mostly rock chunks and dirt now. Fairly scary at speed,
although I went slow. Great scenery, lots of little kids wanting to
hi-five you as you passed. You end up at a little river after about
three hours, and get to jump in. Nice clean water. Then back on
the pickup and on to Cabarete in time for sailing ! This is a good
workout on the 'off road', as what goes down MUST also go up...
Tricia also works with the locals to try and keep things clean, and
helps with educating some of the local kids. Worthy ambitions, all.
Kudos to her and her associates.
We also did the caves tour just outside of Cabarete. Old sea-carved
caves with fresh water pools in the bottom, pretty interesting stuff.
Don't go if you are nervous about heights. Some of the entries are
via 'chimneys', and the damp wooden ladders for 30 or 40 feet don't
inspire confidence. Our guide Raphael was really knowledgable, and
a budding comedian.
Back to reality ....
Got back to cool temps in Toronto May 6. Was amazed at how clean
everything was in Canada - even in a big city. We have now been to
Cabarete twice, and I'm not sure we'll go back. Despite the
fantastic sailing, there is just too much noise, garbage, and free
enterprise at work.
Just our $.02.