I decided to go to Santiago today to get some spare fan belts for my engine. As I stated in a previous email, the belts I bought here in Luperon were very cheap and burnt out quickly. So I decided to get good quality "GATES" belts. On to Santiago.
The problem is that Santiago is about 3 hours away by bus and I didn't know how to get there by bus. Fortunately I found that a friend was planning on going to Santiago today, so I decided to go with him. I went to his boat this morning at 8am to find he had changed his mind and wasn't going, but, don't worry, a friend of his was going. Hm. So I met his friend at the dinghy dock. The friend, Roger, turned out to be a Canadian who is married to an Argentinian and speaks fluent Spanish.
He guided me to the "Gua-Guas", which are the local buses that run from Luperon to Imbert. The Gua-Gua is a van designed for 8 passengers but we were able to put 17 in at the high point of the ride to Imbert. You get to know you neighbor very well and hope like heck you remembered to put on your deodorant. And guys, it helps a lot if you figure out how to get a girl setting next to you. The trip from Luperon to Imbert is about half an hour and costs one dollar.
At Imbert you catch an Express bus to Santiago. The bus is very nice, clean and they don't appear to put more people on than there are seats. This trip is over the mountains, takes about one and a half hours, and costs $2.50.
Arriving in Santiago my new friend Roger had to take off to get what he was after and left me near a larger ferratereria (hardware store). So, in I go with my great command of Spanish and ask them if they have fan belts and specifically Gates XXXX. Nope, they no have.
Well, now what am I going to do.
I walked out of the store and started down the street but then it dawned on me I didn't have the least idea where I was going and if I didn't stay near the route I understood from the bus trip could become hopelessly lost. Well, I've been lost many times in my years of traveling and have discovered I'm not really lost, I'm just misplaced. I must be misplaced because I'm still here. If I ever got lost then I wouldn't be here would I? I try not to think about it, it gives me a headache.
So anyway, back into the store and try to communicate where there might be another ferreteraria. I finally get the message there is another one a little ways away and approximately what direction it's in. Out the door and up the street.
Now is the time God decided to remind me he is always there. I'm walking along and see an automotive parts store across the street. What the heck, might as well check it out. I go in and ask if they have fan belts. Yep, they have fan belts. Do they have Gates? Yep, they have Gates. Do they have Gates XXXX? Yep, here is one. Do they have any more? Don't push your luck, they only have that one. Thank you God. I bought it.
Now, armed with a good fan belt I go on an adventure to see if I can find anymore. I finally found a couple similar types, same size and length but from a Japanese Co. that I faintly recognize so I buy them also. I'm ecstatic. A highly successful day.
Now, I just have to get back to my boat.
I start flagging down buses but no one is going toward Imbert. After starting to feel like I may have to stay overnight in Santiago, if I could find someplace other than a park bench to sleep on, I finally go into a furniture store - because there was a cute saleslady - and ask them how to catch the bus to Imbert. But, they don't speak English and my Spanish is failing.
However, being good Latinas, they have someone take me across the street to catch a taxi to Caribe 2. Why I want to go to Caribe 2, I don't know but that's where they want me to go. So, I go. The taxi, already loaded with four other people, takes me to Caribe 2 (total cost twenty five cents) and I find it's not Caribe 2, it's Caribe Tours. Caribe Tours is a major bus company on the island and they go through Imbert. Thank you God. So, for $2.50, it's a Premier bus not an Express bus with an onboard television with a cheap movie blaring away, I get a ride back to Imbert.
Getting off the bus in Imbert, I cross the street to catch the Gua-Gua. But, no Gua-Guas. A taxi driver asks me if I want a ride to Luperon. No, thank you, I'm waiting for the Gua-Gua. But then, there is Roger sitting under a tree. He tells me we should catch the taxi as there are no Gua-Guas running right now because there aren't enough passengers. We negotiate with the taxi to take us to Luperon for the same cost as the Gua-Gua and we are off. Well, almost. The taxi is a little Toyota coupe but the driver puts six of us in the car plus himself. You are forced to get to know the locals here. But, anyway, made it back to the boat, put on a new fan belt and everything is lovely again in paradise.
I'm going to open a beer.