Further north is La Vega, a quiet place in the beautiful valley of la Vega Real, in the heart of the Cibao. La Vega’s cathedral is a modern, concrete building. The exterior looks a little like a turreted castle while the huge bell tower slightly resembles a ship’s prow surmounted by a cross. The interior is spacious, with round stained-glass windows and lights suspended from a wooden ceiling.
La Vega is noted for its carnival. Comparsas, sponsored music groups, compete and there are competitions for the best costumes. It is a huge, noisy, rowdy affair, watch out for the local custom of hitting people with balls on ropes. They can leave nasty bruises and the police have to test them to make sure they are not solid. There is a Codetel office on the square. There are some basic hotels, F, in town and slightly better accommodation, E, along the highway.
Further along the road from La Vega on the right is the turn for Santo Cerro, an old convent where the image of Virgen de las Mercedes is venerated. From there you can get a view of the valley of La Vega Real. If you continue along the road to the other side of the hill and into the valley the ruins of La Vega Vieja can be seen. It was founded by Columbus but destroyed by an earthquake in 1564; undergoing restoration.