If you want a look at the footloose and fancy free lifestyle, look no further than Mews, a man so significant he can simply go by his surname. Mews works for United Airlines and, like all employees, benefits from a policy that allows him to occupy empty seats on flights for a fraction of a fraction of the cost. (No, that repetitiveness was not a typo.) And he uses this benefit well, so well that he got himself down to the island for the 4th of July weekend.
Although we are celebrating The Fourth outside US borders, the formal embassy celebration isn’t until next week, so we won’t be able to show Mews a glamorous affair with an impressive fireworks show. We did, however, show him a remote corner of the island that, unless you know how to get there, you might be hard-pressed to find. It’s called Bahía de la Aguilas (Bay of Eagles) and has some of the most pristine beaches I have ever seen. I first visited during a work trip last year and when Mews told us he wanted to go off the beaten path a bit, I thought this would fit the bill.
The site is only 130 miles from Santo Domingo but much of the drive is on a small road through rural towns. Therefore, the trek takes nearly six hours. Once there, the only sign of civilization, other than the small fishing boats anchored near the shore, is a small restaurant with picnic tables shaded by thatched roofs. Each day’s food and drink supply is brought in by the owners. Once they’re out of something, they’re out.
There are two ways to access the nearby hidden gem of a beach: via 4x4 or hiring a boatman to take you around the rocky point. We chose the latter. Green Monster (our Honda CRV) has its off road limits. Once there, however, you see untouched shoreline. Mews even quipped, “This beach looks like the kind of thing you see on a travel magazine but only dream about seeing in person.”
After a decent amount of sun, our boatman collected us and dropped us at the restaurant where shrimp mofongo and ice-cold Presidente beer awaited us. As the sun dipped below the horizon, we made our way to nearby Pedernales to spend the night. The border town would almost not exist were it not for the large power plant anchoring it. It is a one-story town that sits about a half mile from the border with Haiti and that most tourists never think of visiting. We stood out like sore thumbs, more so than usual. As Mews put it, “Normally, I’d have been freaking out in a situation like this. But you and Ray Ray seemed calm, so I was calm.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him my sleep that night would be a bit “edgy.”
The next day we made our way back to Santo Domingo but stopped at a nature preserve to see some recently-hatched sea turtles and some other native wildlife. We made quite a few friends that day as we passed out wild berries and other treats supplied by the park’s overseers. More adventure awaited us as we stopped for a quick lunch in Barahona only to be kept on our toes by a small earthquake. It paled in comparison to the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that leveled Haiti in 2010, but that event is not so distant that we didn’t think to take cover immediately. Thankfully it was over just as quickly as it began.
Having Mews visit us was an extra special treat for me. We first met as freshman at Marquette University and have taken more than our fair share of road trips together. Our adventures even include a round of golf at the venerable home of golf, Saint Andrews, Scotland. I trust that no matter where Larina and I go, he’ll be sure to visit. Should you choose to follow in his footsteps here, we’ll show you an equally fun adventure. Just maybe without the earthquake.