Now that the NYTimes has christened it one of the “45 Places to Go in 2012,” I think it’s high time Las Terrenas got its due on the Festivus.
Las Terrenas on the Samana Peninsula of the Dominican Republic is the 2nd Most Wonderful Place on Earth after LBI. And I discovered it. Not the Times. Not Conde Nast. Me, Beezus, Betsy. i.e the Shiznit. It has unspoiled, palm studded crescent beaches fronting brilliant aquamarine water lapping up on powdery white sand. There are no hotel towers to be seen. Nobody speaks English. A heady scent of burning palm and blazing sunshine wafts in the breeze. Wild beach dogs roam dirt roads and nap in the shade. Americans are scarce – unabashedly tan Europeans and Italian expats are plentiful. There’s local commerce with loud motorbikes and even louder merengue and it’s all a little intimidating and dirty in a deliciously tropical, sultry kind of way. It is the essence of Simple Pleasures.
I have been to Las Terrenas 3 times in 2 years. The first was a legendary trip with my childhood best friend in early December 2009. Unbeknownst to us this was during the low season. We were the only guests in a beach motel owned by an Italian expat (like I said, they’re plentiful). Just me, Diana, Antonio, and his staff of 3, which included Junior the English-speaker and the man with the shotgun outside our balcony. Diana and I slept with stolen forks the first night, but soon realized that no one was actually there to hurt us. The days that followed were the stuff of popcorn girls-getaway movies: horse rides through the jungle, waterfalls, locals, moonlit skinny dipping, salsa clubs, beachside lobster, Italian bartenders and waaaay too many cubra libres.
My 2nd trip was a Sisters’ Spring Break 2010 with Captain Muffy. Yes, we had 3 days of rain. It is the tropics, after all. But Muffy and I made the best of it with a deck of Uno, luscious meals, and the Most Awkward Sisters/Couples Massage in the history of massages.
A few remaining days of sunshine in Las Dominicanas Republica was enough to convince the Captain that Las Terrenas was a perfect destination for our next family vaca. So in January 2011, Beezus, Bebemuchacha, Captain Muffy, Linda and Larry boarded a flight for Santo Domingo to embark on a 6-day Dominican odyssey that I like to call National Lampoon’s Feinberg Vacation. Here’s how it all went down:
1. Linda made friends with an American ambassador to the DR on the flight down and got us a personal escort through Customs. Tippy top.
2. Marjorie left her suitcase on the plane and cried. Damn dummy.
3. Our house is So.Hula. Thatched roof and retractable doors! +100 for Beezus.
3. Larry rented a scooter, crashed into a tree on his first ride and gashed his leg. A storm is brewing.
4. Larry’s cell phone doesn’t work in the DR. Trouble.
5. Larry and Linda can’t use their credit cards and start to shiz out. It becomes apparent they’re not as “chill” as we thought they were.
6. Morris my Italian bartender stops by our villa, pit bull puppy in tow, and asks my father “Is a Betsy here?” AWKWARD.
7. Fabulous day on the beach, but Larry is perturbed by frustrating foray into town and lack of good fishing. Uh oh.
8. French-caribbean seafood restaurant only takes cash. The straw that broke Larry’s back.
9. Feinbergs love ATVs.
10. Beezus, Bebemuchacha, and Muffy witness near-fatal dog attack on the dirt road outside our villa, 3 Dobermans vs. 1 German shepherd and its owner. Only in Las Terrenas.
11. Linda and Larry can’t get the rental car out of the driveway. Linda drives the car into a stone wall. This is the low point.
12. The Feinbergs drive the scenic 2 hours to La Galeras and Playa Rincon, commonly cited as one of the Top 10 beaches in the world. Beezus is vindicated!
13. ATV trip to the Supermercado in town to buy “rey” (i.e horse meat) and local produce for a BBQ. Real wholesome.
14. A fishing excursion, some beautiful sunsets, and quality family time have Linda and Larry back on the right track.
15. HOLY SHIZ MARIANO RIVERA IS ON OUR FLIGHT HOME!!! Love you so much Mariano!
16. The Dominican Feinberg Clusterfuck has finally come to an end. Good times had by all! Larry will not be coming back.
And finally, a photo album documenting 3 fabulous forays to the DR. Las Terrenas, I’ll be seeing you again soon . . .