Feb 28, 2009

Monkeying around

Step 1:  Catch the Monkey.

Step 2:  Put the monkey on a leash.

Step 3:  Walk the monkey to it's home.

Step 4:  Smile and contemplate God's sense of humor.

Sometimes life is interrupted by the unexpected.  In this case, Jon got to do a little impromptu monkey-sitting when our friend's monkey, Monica, escaped from her tether while she was away for a few days. Monica the spider monkey and Jon the monkey whisperer used to be good friends, but on this particular day Monica escaped multiple times and was not the slightest bit interested in stimulating conversation, long walks or free bananas.  She  does not escape often, but this was a banner day for her and we got the call to be on the look out for her several times.  It turns out that she came down to the casa de Sawyer where she was distracted by the small children behind glass windows staring at her fondly long enough for Jon to give her a banana and clip the leash on her all the while I'm snapping photos.  Good times.  

Feb 3, 2009

Birthday Adventures . . . 40 of 'em!

Jon's 40th birthday was filled with laughs, adventures and good times.  On the eve of the last day of his 39th year, we had a non-surprise party for him.  Living in a close community and with small children, there really are very few surprises or secrets, but we did manage to slip in a few.  For example, Jon was unaware that we had asked friends and family to send underwear in our quest to give him 40 pair on underwear for his 40th birthday.  We decorated the house with a clothes line of boxers with a "We Support You!" banner, and made a bulletin board of pictures from different eras in his life, which I think he appreciated.  Some of his more notable undergarments were purchased here at our local "La Cancha."  Along with his "Make Your Destiny" skivvies, he also got an authentic pair of "Jack Kleinmans," (who needs Calvin Klein?), and a man thong.  What more could a guy want? (Thanks to everyone that sent/gave undies for him!)

We then headed to the Samana Peninsula to the small fishing village of Las Galeras.  Las Galeras is on the furthest tip of the peninsula, and after one main intersection, the town ends at the beach.  We stayed in a bungalow a few miles from town, which was rustic and peaceful and perfect!  There wasn't any hot water, but then again, when you are slimy with sweat it's not such a big concern.  

On our first full day, we (Jon) opted to take a boat ride to the remote beach of El Fronton, which is only reachable by boat or by a horse as it is surrounded by massive cliffs.  
The boat ride 

was nothing short of terrifying for 4/5 of us.  The boat was about a 15 feet long, and the swells were about 10 feet high!  There were a few times that we were vertical and the wave looked like it was going to wash us away.  Allie screamed her heart out the entire way, all the while I had her in a head lock trying to hold her secure. I did not even realize this until she took a breath to tell me that I was hurting her.  (Ooops.  I was a little tense and on the verge of passing out :) Tate and Gracie were ok until Allie got really cranked up, then it was no holding back!  There are no pictures of the spectacular view from the boat for this very reason, and the beach proved to be worth the thrill of the ride.

El Fronton is protected by a reef, and the beach is filled with broken coral and rocks that have been tumbled and carved by the ocean.  This is the beach where the "snorkel monster" and the "snorkel taxi" were born for the little Sawyers.  I spent the day taking pictures of Jon and the kids, collecting
cool shells and coral and entertaining Annabelle in the shade. When it was time for the boat to come and pick us up, I debated on whether or not to have my camera out, suspecting  that I was in for another fist clinching boat ride.  Fortunately,  the ride back to the Las Galeras

beach was much more smooth, but unfortunately I had decided to tuck away my camera for safe keeping.  The most gorgeous photos of the cliffs meeting the ocean as seen from a  little boat are only in my mind. Awe shucks!

The next day we day we decided to drive to another remote beach called Playa Rincon, that in hindsight, is also best reached by boat.  As we wound thru the Dominican hillside, we gazed upon miles of pineapple fields and palm trees thick like 70's shag carpet.  After 40 minutes of bumping along slowly, we finally came upon our first glimpse of Playa Rincon as we came over alongside the mountain.  

Playa Rincon is a spectacular stretch of white sand in a crystal clear bay tucked into the side of a palm tree forest.  As we got closer and closer, the road got bumpier and bumpier, until at last we could see the beach ahead.  Only one problem:  there was water on the road between us and the gorgeous beach ahead.  There we sat, a van full of anxious and excitable children, a picturesque beach ahead, and an impassable road.  

There was no where to pull off to the side of the road and walk the rest of the way, no way to turn around, and not much hope of getting through the water.  There we sat contemplating our options, and after getting out and walking through ankle deep water, we decided to put our van, Chico, to the test.  We made it through one puddle and then another without consequence.  However, the third puddle caught us off guard as we drove in and out of a deep hole . . . uh -oh.  Luckily, Chico survived and we made it to our lovely destination where we spent the afternoon.    

All of us truly loved celebrating Jon's birthday exploring and making memories on this island that we love!  Jon and I have decided that if we were to pick anywhere on the island to move, it would probably be to Las Galeras.  It is our "Hallsville" of the Dominican Republic, small, friendly, homey . . . ahhhhh.  Who knows, maybe someday you all can visit us there at our bed and breakfast that we want to open. . . .