The year is closing...
... and to celebrate, I'm spending a week in the Dominican Republic. I ordered a map, and the Lonely Planet travel guide, and have spent the past month charting a weeklong plan to explore the country. If all goes according to plan (and it never does, but that's part of the fun, isn't it?), here's what my itinerary will be:
Saturday: Arrive in Punta Cana around 1:30 p.m., grab a rental car, and head toward the beach resort of Juan Dolio (about 2-3 hrs drive west), along the south coast. Ring in 2012 in the "Casa de Beatrice", hopefully with some Dominicans (it seems Beatrice is an European ex-pat... nothing wrong with that, just hope to hang with some locals, too!)
Sunday: spend the morning on a beach, then head back east to La Romana to hang with Alexander Hernandez, a connection I met via couchsurfing.org. Never done a couchsurf before, so this should be interesting.
Monday: bid adieu to Alex and head up the highway to Las Terrenas on the Samana peninsula, staying at Nicki's Art & Surf Hostel. Again the photos online are pretty wild, so this should be a funky place to stay, too. They say they have a rooftop terrace where you can star-gaze without much light pollution- that sounds pretty cool!
Tuesday: Head west again from Las Terrenas (spending the morning either on a beach or on horseback to the El Limon waterfall, depends on how I feel I guess!) toward Luperon, another primarily ex-patriot (German, this time) community. Stay at the guest house La Casa del Sol. Maybe they'll have some neat foods to try?
Wednesday: After a beach morning, head down the country again to the town of Bani, staying at the Hotel Caribani. Depending on when I arrive, either head inland to do some exploring, or walk around town to see what's up.
Thursday: Hang out in the morning on one of the beaches nearby, then head back east to the capital, Santo Domingo. Staying at the renowned Hotel Duque de Wellington. Probably head into the city at night to see what it's all about.
Friday: Explore Santo Domingo by morning, head east to the town of Higuey at night. Today is a national holiday (the day of the wise men's visit to Jesus), so something extra might be in store today (or perhaps just less traffic?!)
Saturday: beach in the morning, turn in the rental car and head back for the airport. Arrive back at Washington-Dulles (IAD) around 8:30 p.m., clear immigration & customs, grab my car, and head for my comfortable bed in cold Annapolis.
Happy New Year to you and yours, however and wherever you choose to spend it!