After our brief visit in Santiago, we head to Jarabacoa, a small town in the Central Mountain Range of the Dominican Republic. The road is now narrow going up and down, turning left and right through beautiful green countryside. Cars and motoconchas suddenly appear behind curves. The pavement is damaged, big holes, sometimes there is no pavement at all and we go off-road for a while moving very slowly.
We arrive in Jarabacoa in the afternoon. The town is charming, looks like everyone is in the streets, kids are running around, and we see other tourists in the bars and restaurants here and there.The town in the heart of tropical rainforest mountains attracts many tourists. There are three rivers crossing the region offering organized whitewater rafting adventures, excursions to waterfalls and rancheos, and lots of hiking trails.
We rent a room for less than $15.00 (600 pesos) at a hostel , a private house which has been transformed into a small hotel.
The owner is very friendly and lets us sleep in a room with one double bed and one single bed where we spread our inflatable mattress so that the four of us have enough space to sleep.
We also have internet and hot water (this is absolutely extraordinary, many cheap hotels don’t have water at all, and if they do, it is cold, even though the water in the tropics is never really cold).
Rain starts falling in the night. There is nothing more peaceful than abundant mountain rain roaring on a tin roof in the dark.
The next morning we wake up early. Our host tells us we can visit the famous Jimenoa waterfall not far from town, we can drive all the way up to the fall (all tourists go there), or hike all day up the mountain to El Mogote, the highest peak in the area, 5160 feet. It is a long and physically challenging hike, if we want to make it to the top and return before dark we have to hurry up. We choose the mountain.
It is a challenging hike, very difficult work out at times, steep and slippery after last night rain, but the trail is wide and we don’t need a guide to find it.
There are places where we have to help each other and sometimes we fall over rocks and mud. The rain has made the terrain more difficult to walk, but also so beautiful and fresh.
Sparkling raindrops are hanging from the edge of leaves, small wet bugs are drying their winds in the morning sun, the smell of wild oranges fills the air.
It takes us 3 hours to reach the summit, seams forever. We stop to rest often.
We are exhausted, sweaty, covered with mud. But we are so happy to be finally here, on top of the mountain.
Valleys, fields, small villages stretch beneath us, far in the distance. We see the island, green and vast, silent under the clouds.