Follow on Strava

Saturday, 20 February 2016

family in the dominican republic

Celebrating Margaret Howard's 80th Birthday, Las Galeras
Last day of my Mom's 80th birthday vacation. A group of 24, our ages ranged from 12 years to 80 years. What a special week.

My mom pointed out last night that it was a poignant time to have a large family vacation. (The grand children are pretty much all adults, and there are no great grand children yet.)
We did yoga most every morning with my healthy and active Mom.

Individually we spent many hours sitting on our varanda's watching the coconut trees sway in the wind and the waves break on the shore. Together we enjoyed walks, swims, and meals.

Yoga each morning with my 80 year old Mom in Las Galeras, Dominican Republic 

A hike to Playa Madama

Buying Chicken in Las Galeras

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Is cycling in the Dominican Republic Safe?

My brother and 4 sisters began planning my Mom's 80th Birthday party in Las Galeras, Dominican Republic over a year ago.  So I was coming and I like to ride my bicycle.
I asked a few people about cycling here.
I tried to do some google searches.

For the most part, I was strongly discouraged from bringing my bike.
I read and heard:
Dominicans are the worst drivers in the world. 
Cycling in Dominican Republic maybe safe in the higher Corderilla, but with any of the towns and cities on the coast, you would be taking your life in your hands on a bike.

The cycling here has been fantastic. The roads are good, the shoulder is sufficiently wide, and the Dominicans are good drivers.  There are cows, donkeys, horses, and many types of slow moving mopads and other motorized cars.

All my rides to date have been incredible .. if only picking the two favourite:
1. Las Galleras to Playa Rincon to Samana and back to Rincon. 90km
2. Cabarette - about 15 km south ... then turn inland to the Mountains. Ride up and along the ridge as far as you have time for ... then scream back to Cabarette.

Selling Fish in Cabarette

I got three flats - getting a patch was easy in Las Galeras, Dominican Republic.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Our Dog Max (Sept 2002 to Feb 12, 2016)

Shirley and the kids visited the dog pound in September 2002, and fell in love in with our dog.  I was reading about dogs at the time. A few books from the Library, “How to choose a dog".  Shirley managed to return home without Max … and asked if I would go check him out.  I consulted my book more and the next day enroute to my new winter gig as a realtor at Century 21, I popped into the SPCA. I was quietly excited. I didn’t need to go to the SPCA until after work - but went first thing in the morning.

Some of the things I remember from the book - In Choosing Your Dog:
-pinch it’s paws
-squeeze between it’s toes
-feel it’s teeth
-squeeze his ears
-blow his face

By doing these things, you will learn what type of aggressive behaviour the dog will have.
Max almost did not react to any of this. He was sweet.

Another test:
-Pick the puppy up and set him up on the other side of the room. Depending on his ‘mojo’ he ‘should’ bound back to you with puppy love. Max sat where I placed him … sort of shrugging his shoulders.

I returned home to Shirley and the kids. I was concerned about this last test. I spoke to Shirley about this ’standoffishness’, that the dog may have. I very soon conceited that if we were going to get a dog, this one maybe as good as any.

I remembered those first months. Teaching Max to go outside to use the washroom. I remember the newspaper in the house, where Max would pee. I remember Bruce’s Dad, John MacDonald, who told me about dogs. John loved dogs. He told me how they liked being in a kennel. They feel secure. They know it is their place. He described how to use a kennel & sold us his old one.
 To Shirley and the kids (and to me), it seemed so cruel to put Max in the kennel. Max never spent much time there.

That first winter I began running with Max. In the beginning, I think he enjoyed these runs. Actually, I think he was just trying to behave the way a dog is supposed to behave. “Mans best friend”. 

The next year, in August 2003 we moved to Calgary. Shirley, Robin & Jacob flew. I drove a Van piled with 4 kayaks on the roof & towing a U-Haul. Max came in our only ever new car, a 2002 Rio Kia. We found an Islander, like us, wanting to move West. He took Max and our car to Calgary. Max was always an amazing traveler.

He loved leaving the house with us. The fount car door would open on the passenger side, and Max would climb in and would seemingly try to make himself disappear. He was so relaxed. It was as if he did not want to be any trouble at all in case he would not receive further invites on any road trips.

For years we travelled to Golden, BC for many weekends. In earlier years, I would drive, Max at Shirley’s feet. In more recent years, Shirley would drive, Max at my feet. Max was amazingly loving on any trip. He would just sit on the floor as if under a ‘disappearing cloak’. He liked to be patted, but did not require it. We could drive for hours, or stop frequently. On the stops, he was fine to be invited out for a short (or long) walk, or just stay in the car.

I had one assumption about dogs. I ‘knew’ dogs like to run.
Those first few years of Max’s life, I automatically would take Max with me running.  I was running frequently with Max after we purchased our first Calgary home,1936 48 Ave SW, in August 2004.
We would run, and often Max would try to stop on these runs. I might swear at him … and pull him along. He’d continue.

Perhaps it was the winter of 2006, when Max began hiding whenever he noted me putting on my black running tights.  It took us awhile to notice, but he would try to hide between Shirley and I. He would divert his eyes into her legs or into the wall. It was as if he thought, “If I cannot see you, you cannot see me. I am not going with you!”

Because I ‘knew’ dogs liked to run, I would insist he come.

I guess I stopped torturing him with these runs nearly 10 years ago. We were both happier not to be running together. However, to this day - when Max notices me putting on my running gear, he has a sense of nervousness. When either Shirley or I ask him, “Max, want to go for a run?”  He immediately will hide behind Shirley’s legs diverting his eyes and holding his ears a certain way as if to say … “please, do not make me go”.

Max was always Shirley and Jacob’s dog. 
Robin & I were hardly sufficient replacements.

One summer when Shirley and the kids had an extra long stay in Prince Edward Island, Max was very depressed. It seemed as though he purposely ate some plumbing fixtures from the Perry’s new build - to protest my company.

On rare occasions, I could enjoy walking Max with Shirley. I pretty much detested walking him alone. There were so many other things I’d rather do. When walking him, especially alone, all I could think … he hasn’t pooed yet. He hasn’t peed yet. Hurry up.
I hate this about myself.

Somehow though, Max didn’t mind. He knew. Max was more accepting of me, then I was accepting of him.

He added such a presence and joy to our home.

I’ll miss you Max.

Friday, 12 February 2016

I was hit by a Mango!

I awoke from La Hacienda in Las Galeras and put on my running shoes ... and headed into the juggle and mountains. I spoke with a traveller the evening prior who had taken a horse riding excursion. He told me, "You may or may not find the whale observation deck ... it's that way."

I was cocky. Pretty sure I would find it. I followed my nose ... and only after one wrong turn ... I found myself running towards the top of a ridge thinking and seeing a structure.

I then thought ... okay ... how far could Playa Fronton really be?
I retraced my steps ... and looked for a natural path to the South. About 400m into the path I there was a Dominican walking ... "Playa Fonton?", I said.

Si, "Playa Fronton", he said with a smile.

A beautiful run ... shrouded in trees ... I occasionally hip hopped my way pass fallen magos being a bit careful not to squash them. However, I landed on one ... and it sprayed my leg. I had heard that these Magos were probably full of ants - and would not be good. I was sceptical.

I continued up ... and then down ... towards crashing waves.
I was pretty sure I found Playa Fronton.  This was confirmed by a group of German Tourist and their guide.
When I asked the guide if I was on Playa Fronton, he assure me I was.  Commando Beaunita?, he said.

He seemed a bit sceptical.

You see, I understand that this is a good place to get robbed.

I didn't stay long on the beach ... and turned back into the juggle where I came from.

11km into my run, I heard rustling in the tree that I was approaching. I looked up in time to see a falling magoe which landed on my shoulder.  I immediately thought ... okay ... these freaking magos must be good eating.
I reached below me and looked at two and choose one. Breaking the skin, I dug in.

It was delicious.

Grabbing another two ... and a third in my small pocket ... I excitedly thought ... this is heaven.
Imagine getting hit by a falling mango.

Life is good.