Tourists are just beginning to discover
Swarms of Kamikaze motorcyclists challenge me to my half of the road, cars suddenly lunge from side streets as vehicles approach from opposite directions and make panic stops so their drivers can leisurely exchange the latest gossip.
The 3-hour journey to the extreme northeast corner of the Dominican Republic
from Puerto Plata is an exciting test of my reflexes. It also explains why almost every vehicle
more than 3 years old looks like it's been attacked with a ball ping hammer.
Instead of finding a flat spit of land, I encounter the Sierra de Samana that rises as high as 1,500 feet before plunging down to the Atlantic on the north coast and the Bahia (Bay) de Samana on the south shore.
A narrow mountain road with hairpin turns finally deposits me in the small coastal village of Las Terrenas, my destination.
At Las Terrenas I stop at one of the small beach side stands for lunch and a chilled El Presidente. I'm not only surprised at how fatigued I am from imitating Rusty Wallace but at how little of the north coast scenery I remember.
I'd only looked at the road ahead so I could spot the next oncoming obstacle. The first thing I truly notice since leaving Puerto Plata is the long narrow beach of Las Terrenas that seemingly extends to the horizon.
But it's just one of Samana's many terrific beaches. And the access to them has become much easier with the new DR highway from Santo Domingo that cuts the driving time from the capital city from 5 hours to only 2 hours.