Friday, March 11, 2011

The Experiences of Others

The sail to Luperon, Dominican Republic was as long and unpleasant as expected.  We were motor sailing for 3 days into 15 knot winds with 2 meter seas and a little current against us.  A slow and incredibly frustrating process taking us down to under 4 knots over ground for hours on end at full throttle with the engine gulping through our diesel. Ugh!  
Luperon is a beautiful  harbor surrounded by lush green hills and absolutely full of cruising boats, many with huge beards underwater indicating that they have been sitting there for a while.  We had received many many warnings about the time consuming check-in process in Luperon involving corrupt officials coming on board and asking aggressively for ‘presents’ .  Several people gave us advice on how to protect ourselves from this threat and respond to these horrible and forceful requests.  Upon arrival, we hoisted the quarantine flag and Seb proactively jumped in the dingy to hunt down the numerous  officials that needed to be informed of our arrival.  Within 1 ½ hours (relatively short for this kind of thing) he came back to the dingy with two men, one from agriculture and another from customs.   They opened a couple of cupboards and peeked with a giggle at Emma and Macsen while we chatted in Spanglish to the best of our collective abilities and they left with a smile after about 15 minutes.  Their only request was for a cold drink.  

Sadly our knowledge of Luperon remains  limited to a quick glimpse of the busy village streets as the relatively good weather and our schedule forced us pull up the anchor the following morning.  It looked like a lovely place to explore.  Our plan was to spend a couple of hours in the morning getting diesel and picking up our despacho (departure documents required to for any movement in DR) and then leave around 1000ish.  We were startled awake by loud knocking (rather shocking) on the boat before 0700! Two overzealous but very friendly customs and immigration agents had taken it upon themselves to bring us our despacho in person.  They had ridden out in the dinghy of another departing cruiser and Seb rowed them back to the dock once the document changed hands.   For this special delivery service we thanked them and offered a cold drink.  They gave absolutely no indication that they wanted or expected anything more.      

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