>Our new friends dropped us back off at our car in Parque Nacional Sierra de Bahoruco around 2:40 pm. We learned that they were going on to Bahía de las Águilas (Bay of the Eagles), an extremely remote beach known for its pristine beauty. The only way to get there is to have a truck, Jeep, or SUV, or to hire a fisherman from the nearest town (las Cuervas) to take you there, which is a 20 minute trip each way. J. asked them if we could follow them out there until our car could not go any further and then jump back in the pickup and ride with them and the cactus. They said they’d be glad to have us join them, and we were off. (I had to pee again, but decided I’d better hold it for a while rather than hold the group back.)

We followed the pickup truck out of the Parque, through the Mars terrain, past the evil Alcoa trucks with giant piles of red earth that flew all over the place and blocked our vision as the trucks sped unsafely down the road. We were just at the turn off to the beach when our pickup truck friends screeched to a halt. It seems that something was wrong with the fuel tank, so they needed to go to the nearest gas station before heading into rough terrain. Seeing as the “nearest” gas station was about 50 km away, we bid them adieu and decided to drive to the fishing village and see if we could pay for a boat ride to Bahía de las Águilas.

Getting to Las Cuervas entailed driving about 10 km per hour because the road sucked, so by the time we got there, it was too late to get out to the beach and back. We decided to poke around the tiny town for a few minutes before heading back to Santo Domingo, which was at least a 5 hour ride from where we were. Las Cuervas was the only sandy beach I went in the DR, and I found a remote corner behind some bushes and finally relieved myself. (In fact, we all “changed the water” as J.’s boyfriend so cleverly phrased it.) This time, I avoided peeing on my own ankles, so I was very pleased. We studied the beautiful cliff that framed the town, and headed out.

We were not on the main highway long when we reencountered the cattle we passed earlier in the day. This time, their herders were nowhere in sight. We sat in the car and waited for the cows to part, sort of like Moses and the Red Sea, so we could pass safely. A few seconds went by with the cows milling about, showing no signs of moving out of the way, when two bulls burst out of the brush on the side, horns locked in fierce battle. We backed up a bit. The bulls unlocked horns, ran at each other, and butted heads. We backed up a bit more. The bulls made lots of angry snorting noises. We backed up even more. While the two bulls were engaged in battle, a third bull analyzed the situation and decided they wouldn’t notice if he mated with the cow I assume they were fighting over. The bull mounted the cow. The cow made angry snorting noises and tried to run away. We backed up more. A motorcycle coming in the opposite direction approached the scene. We wondered what the hell he was going to do. The bulls stopped fighting and walked away. The cows parted and the motorcycle drove through. Carpe diem and all that shit, we took seized the opportunity and cruised. Soon, the cows were receding and we were on our way.

The day ended uneventfully, with dinner at a cute little roadside restaurant in a nameless tiny town. While we were waiting for our meal (the cooks went to shop for the ingredients at the general store down the road), a traveling livestock salesman drove up with calves and baby goats trussed up in the back of his pickup truck. He tried to sell a calf to the restaurant proprietors. The animals bleated balefully. J. got upset. The restaurant owners refused and the salesman was on his way. The cook came back, we had dinner, and then drove off into the dark, only stopping once for a bathroom break and ice cream cake before arriving in Santo Domingo and ending the best 30th birthday a girl could have.