Public transportation in a foreign country always takes some getting used to—perhaps in your own country, as well.
But navigating the options from airport to lodging and then, once settled, from Cabarete to sites of interest, or nearby beaches and back, may constitute some of the more colorful memories from your trip. People in other countries understand their roads and seem to navigate potential chaos with a insider’s touch, but as a visitor, watching motochonchos, taxis, and public minivans (i.e. Gua Gua’s) squeeze by the occasional bicyclist and meandering beings can be daunting, at best.
Ironically, while state of the art technologies—most likely, the airplane—brought you to Cabarete, the most primitive methods of transport will take you far: your own two feet. Travel provides an excellent opportunity to rediscover the wonders of walking. Just walking.
“Off-piste” combines English and French, and commonly refers to skiing off a “groomed” or designated trail. Wandering on your own, taking an unofficial route…going off-piste in Cabarete could simply mean walking. Walk from your hotel to town, then to the beach; walk the beach in either direction, as far as your curiosity takes you; then back through one end of town to the other. You’ll notice alleyways and architecture, flowers, colors, pockets of interest and activity that simply whizzed by from the back of that motoconcho.
1. Don’t be scared
True, a lot of people will vie for your attention. It’s a friendly, curious, energetic scene on the Strip aka, main road through town. Impromptu interactions lie in wait through every doorway, each storefront, and a polite “No, Gracias” doesn’t always deter eager attempts to engage you in some sort of transaction. And yet, what of it? Try and embrace the nonstop bustle as a way to engage with the people around you: practice some Spanish, strike up a conversation, and potentially make a new friend.
2. A soundtrack for your stroll
Walking with headphones transforms a nice stroll into a music video, as an ever-changing soundtrack shapes what’s unfolding in front of you. If you’re into walking but prefer minimal disruption—or maybe you just need some alone time— headphones allow you to nod and smile and observe, as opposed to constantly participate. Granted, people still try to talk to you when you’re wearing headphones, a strange side-effect of visibly tuning out, but it’s easier to just keep rocking along your way.
3. Stay aware
If you’re walking through town, there’s a lot to mind: traffic, crumbled sidewalk, ending sidewalks, walking along soft shoulders—always proceed with caution. Double moto beeps will keep you alert, as will amiable shouts and horn honks, but be sure you look all possible ways before crossing the street, and make yourself “thin” if you’re walking along the side of the road. The mornings area little more “tranquilo” and the perfect time for this activity. Top it off with a delicious coffee at a local sidewalk bakery to watch the town wake up.
4. Alternate Beach and Town
Cabarete is perfectly situated for a total change of scenic route to any one destination. Walking along the beach has built-in merits of skyline, sunset, and the open sea, but you can also mark your progress by the bars, restaurants, and hotels you pass. You can reach most any attraction by walking along the beach. And when you need a little boost of excitement, a bit of hustle and laughter, interspersed by moto beeps, cut through the sand back out the to the street. One walk, two totally different levels of stimulation; feel free to sit in the abandoned lifeguard stand and assess your strategy.
You’ll be surprised what regular walks through Cabarete, or along the beach, can do for your daily exercise routine. Walking is an easy, free, and sight-filled activity that moves your limbs, opens your lungs, and ultimately, expands your mind. Walking as mode of transportation allows you to slow down and notice your surroundings. Not a bad way to travel.