First Day in Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic

Rainbow over the ocean in Las Terrenas

Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic, is along the north coast of the island of Hispaniola (Isla Española), in the Province of Samaná. Las Terrenas is “the lands” in Spanish, which is fun for Google review auto-translations. I keep reading things like, “best pizza in all the lands” and giggling to myself. If you look at a map of DR, I’m at the beginning of the little peninsula at the top. I’m actually really close to Turks and Caicos and Puerto Rico. I already told you the exciting story of how I got here, I but now I have to tell you all the crazy that followed!


I woke up the first morning in DR having not had anything to eat since the lunch lounge in Miami. There was no food in the apartment. I was hungry. Time to head into town and get some foods. While I had internet in Miami, I had picked out this cute breakfast place right as you enter the main area of town from the beach. So I grab all my backpacks and trudge over three kilometers to where the restaurant should be.

Damage to walking bridge from Hurricane Fiona
Hurricane Fiona caused a lot of damage here in Las Terrenas. Be careful where you walk!

Can… not… find… it! Have no internet! I’m frustrated and getting Hangry. Maybe there will be something by the grocery store (which is almost another kilometer up the valley). I need to get cash from the ATM at the bank anyway, and that is right there. You can use USD most everywhere and the exchange rate offered in the stores, tipo de cambio, is actually quite good, but I like to use the local currency. It’s more fun that way. Lucky for me, there is a lovely restaurant with gluten-free items right by the bank. Must eat food… and coffee!

After a lovely breakfast (with some great gluten-free toast with butter and homemade jam!), I’m off to the grocery store. Now I don’t just need my typical groceries like chicken and onions and peppers. I also need all the basics, like olive oil and salt and toilet paper. It’s a lot of stuff to carry the almost four kilometers back to my new apartment.

Mrs. ItchyFeet next to a giant hibiscus flower
Look at the size of this hibiscus! I got rained on during my walk, but it’s a warm tropical rain, so no worries.

Taxi! Taxi! Taxi!

I make these grand plans and then they just fall apart. The idea was to get crap-tons of groceries and get a taxi home. However, the taxis here in Las Terrenas are dudes in yellow vests on motorcycles. He honks or whistles or just asks you politely if you need a ride. You jump on the back of the bike, grab onto the dude (or not, I’ve seen people sit sidesaddle just happily texting away) and try not to fall off. It’s like $2 to get from point A to point B. But no helmets in sight. I better just walk it. I’ve seen too many motorcycle accidents and I no longer have health insurance.

Most everything fits into my backpacks and I start the long journey home. Did I tell you about the hill my apartment is on!?! It has this amazing view and is truly gorgeous, but those are some serious stairs. Must not die! I finally make it all the way home, all tired and sweaty. No time to rest… must cook foods. I needs me some breakfast tacos!

With all the supplies at hand, I begin the long process. This involves taking apart the whole chicken (I save the bones and skin in the freezer for stock!) and dicing banana peppers and onions. Sauté, boil, shred. Noms! This is what I will have in the fridge for the next week for breakfasts. Unfortunately, I could not find corn tortillas (México this is not!) so I went with polenta. Interesting choice, I know, but that’s what I found in the store.

Is the power out?

Power goes out just as I’m finishing up cooking. Crap! Crap! Crap! The Dominican Republic got hit by Hurricane Fiona not that long ago and they are still recovering. That means frequent power outages as they work on issues. This one was not planned. Luckily my stove is gas, so I can keep cooking. Not so lucky for me, the water goes out when the power goes out. Sigh. Get out the hand sanitizer for the bathroom.

I let the cooked chicken cool as much as I dare at room temperature and then throw it in the freezer. Hopefully, the freezer is cold enough to get the chicken down to safe levels until the power comes back on. Half an hour later, I use my meat-thermometer to check the temp of the freezer and fridge. Both are sitting at 25 degrees celsius which is bad. Real-real bad.

View from my apartment
Look at this gorgeous view from my apartment deck. It’s totally worth all the stairs to get up here?

Okay, I have a couple of options. One is to go to bed because I’m exhausted. I would have to throw away all that chicken breakfast taco mixture I spent hours preparing. Not going to happen. The other option is to heat it back up again and keep it hot enough to kill bacteria until the power comes back on. I’m in for a long night. Plus, I bought steak which will go bad in the fridge if I don’t cook it. Let’s do this!

Must keep cooking!

I braise the steak on a bed of onion rounds (noms!) and keep that hot as well (washed my hands in the pool… it’s fine). Every hour I get up, turn on the burners, heat the beef and the chicken up to boiling, and then turn it off again. Over and over until 2am, finally the power comes back on and I can safely put all the food in the fridge. Now I also have water and can do the dishes! Must do dishes or I will get cockroaches! So tired.

Tiny lizard on concrete
This tiny lizard was right outside my apartment door! So freaking cute!

I slept in the next day (until 7:30am) and all was well. The power was still on, which was an immense relief. Sounds like a transformer blew or something. I now have lots of ice in the freezer, so things will stay cold when the power goes out, which it does just about every other day. You can see humans actively working on the lines around town. Hurricanes are no joke!

Slowly (and with much consternation), I am learning to live and cook without a microwave. I miss it, but I have this cool toaster-oven that makes me some pretty delicious sandwiches. Can’t complain about that. I have so much to tell you about Las Terrenas, but that will have to wait until next time. Yes, the sargassum is following me. I can’t win with these oceans. It’s an Adventure!

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  1. Wishing you a joyous holiday in your new home. Sending loving kindness,
    Love your stories, they bring back soooooo many memories.
    We’re going to ride Laos and Thailand Jan/Feb. We’ll be home March 1st.
    Let us know your plans.
    sending hugs,

  2. Keeping the food at a hot enough temperature was a great idea. I was glad to hear your power finally got restored. At least for now….
    Barb and I are looking forward to the DR adventure.

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