It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got That Swing

I can check another item off my DR bucket list after this weekend: Montecristi. I didn't know much about this northwestern province on the border with Haiti, but I knew there was a mesa to climb with swings at the top, so I was sold and worked together with Courtney to plan a 6-person getaway. We set out on Friday (pandemic day 430). 

The tail car in our caravan: me (driving), Kelsey, Jess, and April. Montecristi is just over two hours from Santiago, and I could count the number of turns from my house to our Airbnb on one hand. 

These aren't the swings, but we found these a short walk down the beach from our Airbnb. At high tide, they're surrounded by water. 

Exploring what there is to see in town on Saturday morning. 

One of Montecristi's most notable features is its clock tower. Remind you of the Eiffel tower? It was designed by the same engineer (Alexandre Gustave Eiffel). 

Iglesia San Fernando as seen from the top. Saturday morning mass was underway, so we didn't get to peek inside. 

In my pre-trip research, I learned the salt flats I'd seen pictures of were very near the other attractions we planned to hit. I had been hoping for something more...legitimate...but essentially we parked on the side of the road, hopped out near a wood slat storage shed with signage indicating a family business, and possibly trespassed (!?) to get an up close look. I'll have to Google the process later. 

It was like crunchy snow!

No breaking and entering took place in the taking of this photo - just peeking between slats. 

Saturday afternoon was our one scheduled activity of the trip - a 1:30 pm boat tour through Montecristi National Park. 

"Stop" #1: Manglares (mangroves). I've never been to the Everglades, but I felt like I was in the Everglades!

Stop #2: Plataforma Ecotur√≠stica (Ecotourtistic Platform) - a dock you could jump off with a stellar view from its balcony. 

Stop #3 was a second dock/swimming hole with sand made of teensy bits of broken shells that felt like oatmeal, and, after a mildly unpleasant stretch in the boat, Stop #4 was Isla Cabra (Goat Island). We stayed there ~an hour, exploring the smallish landmass on foot (no goats), sunbathing, and chatting. 

The calm before we waited AN HOUR AND A HALF for our order at dinner that night. 

Happy hikers getting ready to take on the Sendero de Las Cruces, a short hike up El Morro, the aforementioned mesa. 

Isla Cabra

Mangroves (all the green!)

Whoever thought of this should get a raise. 

Our friend Jamielynn, who wanted to come but couldn't, got proposed to at this exact spot in January 2020!

After the hike, we scoped out the beach at the base of El Morro. It was one of the most beautiful beaches I've seen here and different than any other, characterized by smooth, rounded stones (I wanted to take them all home and paint them!) and fine, dark (almost reddish) sand. 

A picnic lunch, a dip in the pool, and we were on our way back, arriving just after 5 on Sunday afternoon. Time spent with these sweet sisters - two of whom are repatriating to the US and one of whom is getting married and moving to the capital - was a gift, as was charting some previously uncharted Dominican territory. I feel somehow more connected to the place I've been called to serve and the people I've been called to serve amongst each time I go somewhere new. This one would be an easy day trip, too; I'll take you sometime when you come visit ;)

Until next time, blessings!