DR Touristing: Jarabacoa

Jarabacoa is about two and a half hours drive south of Luperón. The town is seated on top of what you could call a foothill of Pico Duarte, the tallest mountain in the Caribbean. The mountains generally are a big part of what gives Luperón such great protection from hurricanes. And the mountainous, jungle terrain is significantly different from what we see down by the coast. We piled into the car with our friends from Kraken, stopping in Santiago for a quick and delicious lunch (Scory Café), and headed straight for the waterfalls, which are one of the big draws for the area.

Of course, because this is the DR, our information was somewhat out of date, and the first fall we arrived at (Salto Jimenoa) was inaccessible: the footbridge that takes you to the fall had washed out some months ago, and it’s not clear when it will be repaired. However, a lady by the gate sold us some very delicious strawberries (“Picked today! Today! ToDAY!!”), so not all was lost. And we took some pictures of the ruin where we were not permitted to go, and of the washed-out remnants of some larger bridge on the other side.

But not to worry, there was another waterfall on the schedule. We had some trouble finding Salto de Baiguate, but we got there eventually, and hiked about a quarter mile into the jungle along a nicely maintained concrete path to find the promised waterfall. It’s actually quite a pretty spot. But the water was full of mud from upstream, and did not invite swimming. At least to us — there were a few local boys playing in the brown water, and burying each other on the opposite shore.

Having seen The Sights, we headed back to town for dinner. Our first choice restaurant turned out not to exist, so we fell back to a waffle place (Tostado) that turned out to be excellent, and to have great views, so much so that we went back the next day for breakfast. (They also had a surprisingly good beer selection, by DR standards. Goose Island, all the way from Chicago!) We also took some great snaps on their Instagram-ready swing.

Here are also some random shots from town: apparently hanging umbrellas is a super trendy thing right now. And we were pretty amused by all the things going on in the other street scene here.

So we checked into “Hotel California”. Like the waterfall, it had pretty bones and some maintenance issues. Here’s the plant-filled central courtyard, and Jazz showering using the flow from the leaky hose that wouldn’t make it all the way up to the shower head. At least our bed was level – the Kraken crew was not so lucky, as one of their beds was tilted about 10 degrees towards the pillows.

The next morning, after coffee and waffles, we headed off to tour the Spirit Mountain coffee plantation. The estate is lovely, sprawled across the side of a mountain. The tour starts up at the top of the mountain, at essentially a summer camp spot, built by a US scout as his Eagle Scout project. Lovely views.

But if I had to do it again, I wouldn’t bring the car up that road: there are treacherous rocks and deep ruts, and despite our best efforts we knocked the splash guard off the front of our car. Our guide found PVC by the side of the road (apparently it’s naturally occurring here), and patched Sombra up with a couple of tusks.

The tour continued back down the mountain, with a stop by the nursery for small plants. We were amused to see the juxtaposition of all the signs touting ecologically friendly practices, with each baby plant growing in a single-use plastic bag.

And then the next stop was the drying station back at the base of the mountain, which was essentially the end of our tour. And, as you can see on our faces, at this point we were all kind of thinking, “we drove up a mountain for this?”

And then we stopped at the roasting house, which we’d driven right past on the way up, and bought some coffee (which turned out to be excellent). They turned on a generator in the next room to power a grinder, which I’m pretty sure is a major health risk, but Kraken got their coffee freshly ground, and we made it across the street for a home-cooked meal of roast chicken in the Tipico style, and some very badly prepared coffee. (When we brought the beans home, they tasted great, so that’s clearly not the problem. If you’re giving tours of a coffee plantation, wouldn’t you want to showcase your product well? There are a lot of things here in the DR that I don’t understand, but my best guess is that the family selling the lunch doesn’t make any money if they sell more coffee.) We also loved the bathroom: mind the gap!

The roads back brought us through a lot of fields of what look like overgrown grape vines, but actually turn out to be Chayote squash (which is super popular here). We also liked the use of cactus as fencing. And the sheep.

3 comments

  1. Great pictures and story, thanks for sharing. The bad coffee next to the plantation is puzzling, as you are right, why wouldn’t they showcase it? Were any locals drinking the coffee?

    1. The tour guide had a drink with us, as did a couple of people from the restaurant. I guess they’re used to bad coffee?

      1. One of the reasons I like wine tasting is that the only opinion that matters is mine. I think I will stretch that to coffee as well.

Comments are closed.