In Colorado, where I live, you can see forever. Drive in from our airport (whose code should be BFE, not DEN), and you can easily see Pikes Peak some 80 miles south, and Longs Peak, some 55 miles to the north. Compass points of comfort — I grew up always knowing my place in this big, wide landscape.
I bring this up because the Dominican Republic couldn’t be any more different in this regard. Driving along the North Coast Highway, from Puerto Plata to Playa Grande, you hardly ever see the ocean even though its within spitting distance to the left. Trees and development obscure the view most of the way, with only a few tantalizing glimpses of cerulean blue here and there.
What this does for a traveler, in effect, is increase the potential for massive surprises. I wouldn’t have thought much of Sosua based on my first impression. Another town, crowded sidewalks, wires crossing the airspace over the road, motorcyclists dodging in and out of traffic, and then poof — you’re back in the countryside. Why would we go back?
Well, as it turns out, Sosua has an amazing beach nestled on a big bay, and its from here that many of the area’s scuba trips and booze cruises launch from. On our second day at the Ocean Manor Resort in Cabarete, we were alerted to a snorkeling trip done out of Sosua, and so we decided to check the town out. Unfortunately, the first time, the waves were up and the weather was awful for snorkeling, but as serendipity goes sometimes, we found ourselves strolling the sandy-bottomed commercial strip adjacent to Sosua’s beach.
When you travel with a toddler, you can’t help but see through their eyes. Varenna’s curiosity made Sosua an even richer experience. “C’mon, Daddy…” she kept saying, beckoning me onto the beach, under a tree, to a storefront, to a comfy looking chair.
And the hawkers did their best to woe her as a means to melt our hearts—I mean open our wallets. “You want a toy?” they’d ask her. “Look, she loves this inflatable alligator. I sell it to you as a good deal.” Not knowing any better, Varenna would wrap her hands on the toy, and Hailey and I would have to unravel the sale. It was harmless, and all part of the scene, but it made for some entertaining moments.
One purchase we couldn’t deny her was when she plopped herself at a cafe table and exclaimed “I’m hungry. Let’s eat.”
We ordered a hot dog for her and a beer for daddy, and then she charmed the guys who were hanging out nearby with her elementary Spanish: “HOLA! HOLA? HolacomoSTASS!”
She left with a seashell, and we returned a couple of days later to try the snorkeling. It was an experience not worth repeating. The promise of a trip to explore a protected cove where we could snorkel from the boat or from the beach (where I planned to hang out with Varenna while Hailey and her mom dove in) proved to be a bumpy boat ride to a random reef with little variety of fish and no way to be placed on the beach. So I clutched Varenna in my lap for an hour while we bobbed at sea. Big let down.
But in the end, Sosua was a delightful little spot. Don’t let the main strip fool you.