We began Tuesday buying snorkeling equipment down at one of the market stands leading to the Susua beach (the market reminds me a little of Puerto Vallarta).
Once we had our masks and flippers, the intention for the day was to drive west to see several isolated beaches and catch a boat to an island where the best reef in northern Dominican Republic supposedly lies.
It didn't quite work out like we had planned.
After passing through the bustling Puerto Plata (where we got lost for a while in a poor neighborhood near the marina), Tim turned off on a dirt road that the map marked as the beach road towards Guzmancito.
Three hours later, we had never seen a place called Guzmancito and had only enjoyed one pretty but minor beach. More significantly, we dragged our compact car through endless bumps, about 10 muddy rivers (luckily it had not rained for many days), rural mountain villages with people to help us push the car when we got stuck, and bulls with the frequent right-of-way.
We arrived at Luperon with a balance of harrowed disbelief and cheery accomplishment for our unexpected adventure. It was too late in the day to take our snorkeling trip, so we ate some late lunch and drove back on the main road (which took about 30 minutes to get back to the entrance of the dirt road where we had turned in earlier).
A perfect lesson on the extreme diversity of road conditions in the Dominican Republic.