It's currently raining here in Santo Domingo. It's hard to believe that just a few days ago I was up in the mountains where the only thing in the world to think about was, "How can I make sure the mule and I can get up and down the paths?" Well, of course there was a lot more to think about, but the mule and I were seriously bonded.
I just made a trip to the South of the Dominican Republic where we (we were a group of four) made a trip across part of the Cordillera Central from Sabaneta to La Cienega. It was a 98 km hike, up 3100 meters (app. 10,000 ft). I had made this trip before, but this time, it was absolutely incredible. We didn't have much rain, and the forest was incredible. There was a fire last year, so most of it was burnt down, but even the new ground cover was gorgeous. There were a lot of agave and the fir trees had their tops to them. We saw parrots, rolos and hummingbirds, among other birds. And we made a two day trip down to El Valle del Tetero, which was absolutely one of the most difficult hikes of my life, but one of the most gorgeous. The valley was stunning, and sacred.
The route, as it were, took us from Sabaneta to Alta Rosa, down to the Mata del Aguacate, where we camped by this beautiful river. We then went up 1,000 meters to El Valle de Macuticu which had fields of wild irises, azulejos (forget me nots?), and wild roses/blackberries. From el Valle we went up La Pelona peak, down to El Valle de Lilis and then down to La Comparticion. We ran into some German journalists who were coming up for a few days, and shared a fire. From there we went down to El Valle del Tetero and finally, the last day, to La Cienega. There are tons of photos on digital camera, but I'm currently trying to work out the technical issues on how to download them. I would really like to share them, because this is an incredible part of the country, and it's close to impossible to find visual images of the flora.
There were several highlights to the trip.
Sleeping by the Piedra del Aguacate, which is absolutely a magical place. I fell asleep to the sound of the river.
The smell of wild roses in the valleys.
That Biuti, the dog accompanying us on the trip, caught a wild boar which we ate for dinner over the course of two days. The first day, it was incredibly gamey, but by the second day, it was absolutely delicious.
Bathing in the river in El Valle del Tetero right by a small waterfall.
Finding the petroglyps in El Valle del Tetero (finding is a strong term - they were indicated).
I was on the hike/trip as part of my research for my second and third novels, one which I'm here to finalize and the second which I have just begun. We're here in the capital, Santo Domingo for this week. I'll be going to Yamasa to visit some artisan workshops, whose mission is to preserve Taino imagery and art. And then back down to San Juan for the Fiestas Patronales on the 24th. Then it's off to Altos de Chavon for the remainder of the summer. And to writing, writing, writing.
I'm thinking of my friends on their journeys this summer...including trips to the concentration camps in Poland, for initiation rites in Nigeria, to Headlands and other residencies...there is always movement in the world. And it's powerful and beautiful.