The resort complex associated with the Bahia Marina has everything a grotty yachty dreams of – showers, laundry, pools, a gym, and for kids, a playground and a very tolerant staff, who never once made comment as the kids spread out their school work in their beautiful lobby each morning.
During our extended stay in Samana we were so lucky to have quite a few kid boats in the marina at the same time, so there were lots of catch ups and impromptu get togethers.
For me it was so nice to have some time with others mums, to chat about home-schooling challenges, keeping the boat clean challenges, storing food challenges, how to stop the head (toilet) smelling challenges and everything else that is needed to keep a kid boat running calmly and smoothly. It was also nice to see a few meltdowns by the other kids (and their parents) – always great for a reality check! Who knows, perhaps we are doing OK and aren’t totally torturing our children by confining them in a small boat for extended periods of time whilst they feel nauseated and crabby with their siblings (and parents), with no chance of escape!
Each morning most of the kids gathered in the lobby to do their home schooling.
It was an excellent incentive for our kids to get their work done so they could go and play with whoever was around, and during our stay at Samana the combination of seeing other kids tackle their school work without fuss each day, along with the very comfortable setting, and the freedom of being able to go to the pool or park, finally had us on a home schooling roll! Max had a great time with Xavier, a French Canadian sailing with his family on Xayla; and Teddy, almost his twin, who lived locally. Tom played with the kids from Abeona and Sea Spice, and Ben with everyone. Olivier, a tiny six-year-old resident of the marina kept everyone enthused with battles of army and lego!
Over the 2 weeks at the marina Pete got many repairs and maintenance jobs done (I finally have a salt water tap so I can rinse the dishes before using our precious water to wash– bliss), the starter motor repaired, and cushions made very cheaply for our cockpit which was most uncomfortable with our existing 1 inch Walmart pieces of foam!
We hired a car and did a tour of the amazing nearby area – visiting again the bay at Escondido, to finally have a swim at the beach and a drink at their beach bar and then on to Las Terranas, a very pretty, mainly French resort on the coast which had supermarkets stocked with French bread and cheeses. The scenery in the mountains was spectacular, no wonder the movie Jurasic Park was shot here.
During our Samana stay we took the opportunity to sail the short distance across the bay for an overnight trip to the Los Haitises National Park, which was famous for numerous caverns adorned with ancient drawings. Whilst our photo’s don’t do the pictographs justice, we did get to see many of the etchings described in the poster below.
In another set of caves, a guide took us through a series of caverns, where there were also some very old rock carvings. The pretty beach and hut mostly was used by day trippers!
To finish off the day we had a great trip up a mangrove lined creek to a nearby spa resort, just on the outskirts of the national park. The resort had a series of manmade pools that was feed by waterfalls in and around the resort. It felt like we had landed in some ancient spa bath, and we all enjoyed splashing about in the very cool, clean water, before dinner and a dinghy ride back up the creek.
The scenery in the area was spectacular, and our photo’s don’t really capture very well the amazing sights we were seeing. Fortunately, Abbey, from the sailing ketch Wind Machine, has taken some amazing video footage of her visit to the park and also of the rest of their time in the DR. Here’s the link – we did most of what Abbey and her partner Ben did (except the skinny dipping in the waterfalls!), the video truly captures our wonderful experience. Abbey Jane – Dominican Republic – Off the beaten track
Our final night in Samana was a lovely dinner out with our beautiful friend Cindy and son Teddy – it is so wonderful to make new friends who I hope to cross paths with sometime in the future!
So – why did we end up staying so long in Samana – US Visa’s for Puerto Rico, of course. What a drama! Pete spend hundreds of hours (it seems), starting from when we in Luperon, trying to sort out visas with their online application system. OMG – if a website can redirect any more times than this one we would like to see it. Eventually, we almost decided to fly to Puerto Rico and then fly back to get stamped in via a commercial flight, which as it turns out would have been cheaper than the cost of 3 trips to Santo Domingo, multiple bribes to traffic cops (for our hire car not having the correct papers) and hotels! It was a good chance for Pete to take Max and Ben on separate overnight trips away, which they both enjoyed.
Through all this drama we made the decision that the boys and I would fly across to San Juan and leave Pete to bring the boat across. Pete was very keen to do a solo trip, and I think secretly looking forward to 48 hours away from us! I was also happy to avoid crossing the Mona Passage (renown for being a very challenging trip, due to the trade winds, some very interesting currents that can slow your progress to a standstill, and storms that shed nightly from the mainland of Puerto Rico). Eventually we got the notification the Pete’s visa was finalised, so the boys and I packed our bags and we all took off for one last trip to Santo Domingo, leaving Pete at the American Embassy to collect his visa whilst we headed to Santo Domingo for 2 nights before our short flight over the Mona.
I was sad to leave the comforts of Samana, and also the many friends we had made during our stay!