Our second longest passage is complete! We just made an exhausting three day trip from Puerto Real, Puerto Rico to Luperón, Dominican Republic. It was late in the morning and just days before Christmas as we sailed into port. Tired and worn, we carefully navigated through choppy water into a narrow cut, which led us in to the safe, calm waters of Bahia Luperón.
Within moments of tying to a mooring ball, we were greeted by two men, both offering their services to us. Exhausted and uninterested in anything, we thanked them and asked them to return the following day. One man, named Handy Andy handed us a flyer of his rates and never returned. The other, Walner, smiled and agreed to see us the next day.
Later on, we met up with our friend Paul on SV Dog’s Life and went into town to clear customs, grab a beer and get the lay of the land. We only lasted a few hours before heading back to the boat to crash for the night.
The next day, we were greeted by another man. He smiled warmly and greeted us as if we were long time friends. His name was Papo and he was Walner’s father. Papo was the main cruiser caretake in Luperón Bay (for the past 30+ years) and offered to help us with anything we needed. We had heard many positive things about Papo from other cruiser’s who had stayed in Luperón so we were anxious to see for ourselves if it was true. For a very reasonable price of $2usd/day we stayed on his mooring and potable water was only 50 pesos or $1usd/5ga jug.
At our request, he quickly loaded us up with water for our tanks and chatted with us for a few moments. Before he was about to leave, Papo invited us over to his home the following day for Christmas Eve Dinner. Dave and I smiled at each other in agreement and we happily accepted. What a generous offer from a kind stranger.
The next day, Papo’s son Walner, picked us up at the town dock (along with another cruising couple, Ruth and Wendall from Canada) and drove us to their home. Walner’s wife, Sheyla, was waiting for us at the door with a sweet little baby girl, Nia, on her hip. We met the rest of the family and Nia’s twin brother, Hugo. We all gathered near the Christmas tree and got cozy with some glasses of bourbon.
The main event
As we entered the dining room, we could see a feast laid out before us. Steamed tamales wrapped in banana leaves, rice and peas, spit roasted pork piled high on a plate, mixed salad (aka potato salad) bread, green salad, a huge bowl of fruit and bottles of wine covered the table. The spread was mouth watering and the room was warm and aromatic with the delicious smells.
Before we feasted, we all gathered around the table and joined hands to give thanks. Jamila, Walner’s mother and Papo’s wife, prayed in Spanish and our new friends asked if I (Alli) would say a few words in English. A little flustered and feeling on the spot, I tried my best and gave thanks and praise for all of the kindness and love that surrounded us that day.
The food was fantastic and we even got to take home a huge plate of leftovers, which I single handedly finished that very same night. It was sooo good I couldn’t help myself!
The Dominican way
Not only was the meal delicious, but our company was lovely. It was such a beautiful feeling to share a special holiday, which we would otherwise be spending alone, with these kind strangers who had so graciously taken us into their home. Although there was a bit of a language barrier between some of us, there were many smiles around the table and that could easily be understood. I’m certain each of us felt the same happiness and gratitude for that special day.
Throughout the afternoon, Dave and I repeatedly thanked Papo’s family for such a lovely time. This was one of the most generous moments we’ve experienced on our trip over the last year. In reply, Walner impressed upon us that it is the ‘Dominican way’ to share and help other people, even if they are strangers. What a wonderful welcoming to a new and beautiful country!
We’d like to give a special thanks again to Papo and his awesome family for sharing their holiday with us.