Caribbean Backcountry


off route
Jun 14, 2016
There is no possibility for real backpacking here, and little accessible undeveloped land. The week before Easter, Semana Santa, is when thousands arrive to camp on the beach and party spring break style. Being an enjoyer of lone wilderness I knew where to go.

I started onto the western shore after passing the leading edge of our rapidly advancing civilization and turned northwards.



A much appreciated overcast rolled in, helping to soften the sun and heat of my later than ideal start. Thankfully it stuck long enough to complete walking the rugged, shadeless shore.




My destination was a small beach nearly a couple of hours away. I set up camp, which consisted of a basic nylon hammock, and promptly got in and took a nap. After waking I went swimming and explored the near area while awaiting the sunset and full moon rise.



In the morning I enjoyed a fantastic mango along with some almonds. Then, just after the sun hit, I entered the water with my base weight trashing snorkel gear. There was a modest amount of movement from a small swell and also some suspended particles from the larger swell recently past, but conditions were reasonable. I was out for a long time. The sea state was not close to ideal for pictures with my old point and shoot, but I had a little fun with it.



After the swim I ate an excellent avocado and due to last nights full moon took a nap. After that pleasure I gathered my camera gear and headed farther north towards a place I wanted to photograph in the afternoon light. I did not get there. I needed to enter the water to round one of the rocky points and the swell had come up a bit. The thick, super prickly vegetation pretty much prohibits any inland travel.



In the morning I gave the rocky point passage another go, only to the same end. I went back to camp, triple ziplocked some clothes and lunch, put those, my shoes and drinking water in a mesh snorkel bag and took to the sea. The only drawback being that I had to leave the nice camera and tripod behind. After a twenty minute swim I approached the shore reef in low visibility. Seeking a channel, only able see an arms length below and maybe six feet ahead, I was not pleased to find myself in a face off with a large barracuda. Not considered by me to be a real threat, I still did not want to be cornering one at close range. I backed off a little and it vanished into the swirling sand.


Leaving the water I took to the shore towards Punto del Norte. An unusual hazard here is unexploded ordinance left from sixty years of heavy use by the US of A as a live fire range ending in the seventies. The shore takes a severe pounding and the survival of a live shell in this zone seems unlikely. Still, I don't kick them. The other hazards are more natural, such as shifting rocks and waves. There is the near certain death by shredding if forced to go inland and then the critters. It is easy to find scorpions and tarantulas, though they seem harmless enough. There is another one that makes me nervous and keeps me thinking more than twice about sleeping on the ground in the open. A little side story here. My then woman friend and I were sleeping peacefully in our tent when I awoke with a start as she grabbed something off our shared pillow from between our heads and threw it to the wall. I lit the headlamp to find a franticly scurrying 14 inch centipede, the Alacran.



I sat for a long while at the very end drinking the powerful space. I ate my orange and turned to go. Before the long scramble back along the sun blasted rubble I sought refuge in a shady, salt spray dampened crevice and watched the waves wear the rocks down for a bit.






After another long swim I found myself back home. Since I still had enough water and some food I decided to stay an additional night and avoid the baking hot afternoon walk back to town. I packed camp at dawn and after a short swim I made the walk down the shore in full shade. When I neared the end I had another really nice snorkel.




disclaimer: this little adventure is a few years past. I did post a version elsewhere, though it is long buried.
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It all sounds like a dream! Very nice, especially as I'm watching the snow come down now outside. That's also the best looking avocado EVER.
It's cool that you found a channel through the reef to enter the shore, it can be very difficult. The Barracudas are really mean looking, but we have never had an incident with them. (Triggerfish protecting a nest are a whole different story, they will bite).

The cacti are very unusual looking and they seem to have the best view on that island ;). Do you still go back there?
Do you still go back there?

Here now. First came to PR in the winter of 89/90, then over to this little place in 92/93. As a 24 year old carpenter in Maine up on the roof in my insulated gumby suit and pac boots with a shovel in my hands scraping ice off the deck, I thought to myself ‘there has got to be a better way’. looking avocado EVER.

They come from the Dominican Republic. The really big ones are close fo the size of a grapefruit and they can be so awesomely tasty. We can get great mangos and papayas too. I have three papaya trees in the yard now. The first fruit almost ready. Bananas are always good. Many different varieties, like short fat, short red, really short skinny, regular length super fat tastes like a potatoe and on and on. The first two winters I lived on a 1000 acre tree farm high in the PR mountains and it was my job to look after our little banana grove. We had at least 7 different kinds.

The cacti are very unusual looking...

I’ve been told their called Turks Head. Clearly they like to live in barren rocky spots, as per that photo. They have small cone like flowers and also produce a little pink pepper shaped fruit that I like eating. I’ll see if I can get a pic.
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