Most of the time the cheesy “tourist attractions” don’t appeal to us, we are more seeking out the “off the beaten track”. If any of those exist anymore. But still, every now and again we endulge in the local attraction to see what all the hype is about. Puerto Plata, although a city that has lost its past glamour due to waining tourism, still boasts of the beauty up and around its teleferico (cable car). So our family, joined by our traveling sidekicks from s/v Mirador, as well as our buddy Jon, went to see it for ourselves.
If you wish to venture to the top of the mountain there are two ways of getting there. The first, you can cruise up the backside of the mountain but drivers’ beware. We had many friends get into motorbike accidents on this hill. It is steep and not fully paved. So please, know how to handle your vehicle, or take option number two. Get to the top by cable car. We chose the cable car, and were greeted with an awesome surprise. The teller selling the tickets asked us right off the bat if we live here. I guess my tan is even better than I thought, because she only charged us the “local” dominican fee of 200 pesos (5 bucks an adult, the girls were free!) The ride up the mountain lasts about 5 minutes and half the time you are secretly wondering what type of maintenance this little “box with windows” receives. But the rest of the time we got to see Puerto Plata from above, putting into perspective all of the bays we had sailed into or past, as well as giving us the jungly mountain vista the whole way up. I would have been content if that were it, money well spent. But there is more.
Ellia photobombing Jon’s profile pic
At the top there is the huge statue of Jesus. Think, Rio de Janeiro’s mini-me. You can see this statue from the city below, so it is always fun to get a closer peek. But the lime light of this attraction fades quickly, like with any statue, I can only stare at one for so long. To our surprise though, the statue, and the views are not the only “must sees” at the top of the hill. There are decrepit stone pathways that romantically weave in and out of the jungle to vista points along the cliffs boarders. The paths then split off to the different sight seeing spots, and vary from stone walkways to well trodden trails. This would be an ideal spot for trail running in the DR. You wouldn’t have to worry about car/bike traffic or getting lost on random farmer’s trails. The spots these paths lead you too are the cave, a lagoon, and a bridge. Which are all marked on the “tourist board” as good photo-op moments.
Well the cave, which Eben and the girls climbed down into, looked promising. But after having scrambled down the muddy slope, carrying the girls and praying his crocs wouldn’t slip out from under them, Eben and his adventurers realized that the cave goes no further than 5 feet passed the mouth. Anticlimactic, but it made for a cute picture. The lagoon left almost everything to be desired. When they named it a lagoon they must have been high on something, because in all reality it is a cemented in pool that now retains murky brown water and is the home to hundreds of little tadpoles. At least it is surrounded by lush jungle. So you can forget the pond and gaze at the bush around you, or do like Ellia and use it as the perfectly secluded potty break. And finally there is the bridge. This is worth seeing. Especially if you get it on a day like we did, where you are at the height of the clouds. Having them whizz by us and engulf us, with the girls yelling “I’m in the clouds” brought an instant smile to my face. And then a slightly disturbing feeling when I actually noticed how fast they were moving and wondering how much wind the gondola can handle, for our ride back down. We tried taking a couple of cute family shots while all on the bridge, but the wind got the better of us, and out of the 20 or so that we took, most of them are of us girls trying to hold the hair out of our faces.
the cave to nowhere
a lackluster lagoon
The ride down was just as fun and beautiful as the ride up, but I felt went slightly faster, thanks to gravity I suppose. Back at the bottom our cars awaited us, as well as the young man that asked for money for having “watched over” our vehicles while we were being touristy. As though the two security guards in the parking lot were not enough this guy thought his extra set of eyes was needed. I think not. I say, although it is touristy it was totally worth the 200 pesos ride. Just make sure to go early because by the time we were coming back down the line up for the cable car up had quadrupled in size.
Oh, and maybe watch what exotic plants you lay your hands on up there, as in any foreign country really. Later that evening, after our high altitude adventures, Arias spiked a fever. We didn’t think much about it other than she must have been coming down with a cold. Two days later she is speckled with tiny hives from the thighs down. The doctor is guessing, assuming, an allergic reaction to a plant on something she came in contact up there. Not to worry, she is being treated and enjoying the piggy back rides, since the Doc recommended she go barefoot for a few days.
Even with the hives, I say our excursion to the mountain top was worth it. Arias may say otherwise.