Playa Bonita at Las Terrenas

nI-JCyIIkicfFpz-fbRg6XvKuaTCF9-p7PiY3j74gQQqlxrbM015LvTp2OKUwxS_GM77paf9LZ38zmEzUr8y5K0qbFHry9-yrwA_xE_S1OSeP2yI2c2vvT5tTmnn8UHEoyQCyBjUD62cmlT_X_Y5HtUH23tRKS2g6hhPUmS2cYKZUNHtD5v5meqtPGIt’s not Punta Cana. I hear that Punta Cana is popular. Instead, the beaches at Las Terrenas are not as populated. Hardly anyone to be seen. Which is slightly surprising considering all the villas and hotels on the beach.

Szo6e03G7tzJe__tD4PJs3jbp32HdjNF9hfnXoLWtpxS7EmqECZiwyokghF_942yaDhjq4KJVDvbcKJ-OlwcEut5YGCLSbJdtAs-iTclVEEyiYNbr1G8h57gQVQ4akwP4JYaFcXmmhXjeMN-7Br4HM4GN6hukBinFQiumbScNnqe-Xqk59hgEUD-ThI was lucky to get driven there so I don’t know how to get there. But, I do know that we paid many tolls of hefty amounts (as in 8 bucks, 8 there, etc.) in Dominican cash. The drive took about three hours and went through an area of natural beauty.

1P90szb-4IVEZixPRAEgAZl6-CuNv8EmTE-bRTxSguU9SFQJuV25Uz6s5-gFAwu7yHFmYJaz_ids6_uXoipCe7_2bqzBA1gT5gQm5YiMSFfxgO09KG7zQJpLxGyUL-TXNYOWExubkkJ8mnh98vxI1MCFHgOjiyA_720xGb98B8zRFDBdaB8Wwn6k50Along the way, we stopped for some famous barbecue, at a gas station. It’s the Gran Parador Bellamar, Autopista Nordeste, Carretera Samana KM 1, Santo Domingo. After the first toll. It’s a good pitstop with toilet, cash machine, kiosk, etc.

dlTrmzkFwNOtb_t2x0-fmvTSVfDqJPMiRi-4nm_u1CNCEQ0lxqXdUZJMfJI1W05mNNzJNiDNJABcB7JCHKp3OKAIsBC1_vNNitOEmhlHvVCkQRoPhROaA5XmKfeLLroEtHl8sSRaEsownzQHwMKoV-eCyEienpi-eLu-6-Kdk64PkBKOuBKesviYm1We rented a luxury villa. I think there were enough beds for 10 or more people, and it was a good party house. But, also great for relaxing.  Our villa cost $500 per night but I’m sure there are much cheaper options.

l8XNYRx4W90alMLhaVppD7K0Z_QL_GcF7Xp668Rq0pWQVmHVFsd4PfYBNCDbDubeBcPYBhdcERSTRUnX_QEchXrqQz0TouKuplMSXoC1jwJRmBxrWE5ihY0dulEgI9LY-QtMLCQa89O93xvogARmD4jcNRzcupNUJgERVrluR8ZcGXVUBPo5AmWP_SSo pack up the cooler with drinks and food! You can probably find a colmado that will deliver!

GxhmvFNR0mVxjCAbyM0U1agKbIqD2QmqRW1KiKl8Jkj2Z0NvscNxxK1qtIiFD7p5fiRzUrTlCjUsX4x2IRa8MA8bkQaACTeTYUKRuFqEAYjwiw3jn22lejKeMF_mbd5zi1D0hhnB6sznd85nXDpxQ8ykOfJRjprcbUbgUNyjl3yK_57yjaeIc_2TwgOn the way back, we stopped for some chicharron. Chicharron is pork rind but with meat attached. It’s not like pork rinds in the U.S. This is like greasy barbecue.

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I can’t tell you the location because it simply appeared, like magic.

The Flora and Fauna of San Andres, Colombia

Blue sea and palm trees.
Blue sea and palm trees.

Everyone told me to go to San Andres. So I did.

Waiting for the tourists.
Waiting for the tourists.

San Andres is nice and has all the usual activities of a sun and sand vacation. Plus, San Andres has some decent restaurants and lots of duty-free shopping.

The walk along the beach.
The walk along the beach.

The only thing that I didn’t notice were too many spas. There was a spa on the beach. But as they appeared to be the only game in town, they only had 30 minutes massages available. They only had one massage table and it was separated from the public by a bamboo bead curtain (which was never closed). The main “spa” activity in the hut seemed to be the fish foot spa. Even with a reservation, we did not manage to get a spa treatment on the beach. We did find a hair salon that also had massages and manicures and pedicures.

There are seven colors in San Andres, starting with sand.
There are seven colors in San Andres, starting with sand.

Apparently, the smaller (less crowded) Providencia is much nicer than San Andres. Perhaps another time.

The Secret Shop of Dhaka

Carved wooden doors.
Carved wooden doors.

A treasure trove packed into a riddle. Villa Ideas (formerly Ideas Manzil) is a guesthouse (ranked high on TripAdvisor) but it’s also a shop and a restaurant. They have set menus and the food is freshly made. It’s good. We went for lunch and to shop, and the staff at Ideas Manzil had decorated the table with flowers, textiles, and silver salvers. There is a wood carpenter, a leather worker, and a weaver on staff. The range of what one can have made seems endless: leather bottle holders, leather coasters, wood doors, carved fabric hangers… plus all the stuff to buy: boxes, brass, jewelry, Bhutanese textiles, Nepalese rugs, Bangladeshi folk art, lamps, vases, carved wooden walls and spandrels on carved columns (family crest carved into the wood — why not?)…

One of the guest suites.
One of the guest suites.

One must make an appointment to shop here. The proprietor says that he will open a retail corner but… can it remain interesting? Finally, will this place last? Will it remain interesting once my friends have bought all the treasures collected over a lifetime?

Also, does a fabulous job on meals which must be ordered in advance.

The table set for lunch.
The table set for lunch.
Some of the goods for sale.
Some of the goods for sale.