’13 Apr: The Dominican Republic

Mostly Santo Domingo with a swing by Boca Chica during a first visit in a long time to a Caribbean island.

This section talks about…

April 23

This section talks about my two short visits to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic including some of April 23-24 and most of May 5-7.

Merlyn was with me a lot of the time and Alex and Carol for some of the time. We spent the intervening 10 days, the 25th to the 5th, in Cuba.

…and another (distort-o) one…

…and another (distort-o) one from this morning.

Santo Domingo is the first city of the Americans, this is the first cathedral, and many more firsts follow.

“After Christopher Columbus’s arrival on the island in 1492, Santo Domingo became the site of the first cathedral, hospital, customs house and university in the Americas. This colonial town, founded in 1498, was laid out on a grid pattern that became the model for almost all town planners in the New World.”

The gates of the…

The gates of the Cathedral.

Lonely Planet review for Catedral Primada de América: Diego Columbus, son of the great explorer, set the first stone of the Catedral Primada de América in 1514, but construction didn’t begin in earnest until the arrival of the first bishop, Alejandro Geraldini, in 1521.

“From then until 1540, numerous archi?tects worked on the church and adjoining buildings, which is why the vault is Gothic, the arches Romanesque and the ornamentation baroque. It’s anyone’s guess what the planned bell tower would have looked like: a shortage of funds curtailed construction, and the steeple, which undoubtedly would have offered a commanding view of the city, was never built.”

The main square, the…

The main square, the Plaza Central, called Parque Colon with a bronze statue of Christopher Columbus pointing toward a new world, and the center of the ‘Ciudad Colonial’ part of Santo Domingo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990.

Carol and Alex outside…

Carol and Alex outside one of the several restaurants on the Plaza. Check out the phone on the tree in the upper left, there, I’m believing, so that the restaurant staff can keep to the shade of the tree.

It’s a lovely spot and it seemed central to local family life as well as a tourist mecca.

Also near the harbor,…

Also near the harbor, we figured this fellow might have set up a dog grooming business here. He was working on the second while the first dried out in the sun.

BTW, when I take a picture like this I would have first pointed to my camera and called out ‘ok?’, or waved and waited for a wave back.

“On the 21st of…

“On the 21st of December, 1511, the fourth Sunday of Advent, Montesinos preached an impassioned sermon criticizing the practices of the Spanish colonial encomienda system, and decrying the abuse of the Taíno Indian people on Hispaniola.”

A view from one…

A view from one of the many restaurants where we enjoyed surprising meals. Usually when traveling I don’t eat so often in restaurants but this trip we ate out at least twice a day.

I was very remiss in taking any pictures of the restaurants or the food. The food we ate in the DR was almost uniformly very good. I was continually amazed at how good it really was. I will remember!

Guys are at many…

Guys are at many of the historic sites wanting to give you a tour and ask for nothing specific but ‘a tip if you’d like’.

He actually wasn’t very good, it was as if he could simply translate the signs, but interesting to have tried one of the guides.

The view from the…

The view from the dining room of the café below our hotel, Hotel Conde de Penalba, where they serve the complimentary breakfast and have a good menu of local dishes.

We had a great corner room right on the plaza with a big private balcony and windows on three sides. I was happy.

Off for the day,…

May 7

Off for the day, we were looking for the station to pick up the express bus to Boca Chica. We could take the bus for $2 or a taxi for $50. Merlyn agreed to try the bus and it went so easily we took the bus back too.

Part of the walk to the station took us through Chinatown .. the Chinatown in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic which explains why we’ve been seeing Chinese food selections on many of the menus.

We were not exactly…

We were not exactly sure of the station’s location so I asked this woman. She took my hand and led us the several blocks. This happens often when I’m out and about but there is so rarely someone behind me to take the picture.


Boca Chica is a…

Boca Chica is a beach town, once exclusive in the 1950s and 60s, now mostly ‘overwhelmed with tourists from North America and Europe’ as evidenced by the topless ladies sunning themselves on the sand and big-bellied men in thongs.

The water is gorgeous for sure.

Boca Chica doesn’t get…

Boca Chica doesn’t get especially good reviews mostly because of all the hawkers trolling the beach but we thought it wasn’t bad, the guys were entertaining and did not make aggressive pursuit.

Those are cargo loading cranes in the distance.

Everyone enjoying the fine…

Everyone enjoying the fine white sand, warm clear sea, and heat so intense I thought it was too hot to go swimming and sweat was pouring off my face.

Roger asked why was it too hot to go swimming and I replied ‘I was SO HOT that getting out of totally stuck-to-my-body clothes to try to stuff my swollen and sweating limbs into a bathing suit, and then do the process in reverse, sticky and sandy from the sea with no cool room to change in .. it just did not appeal.’

At one point I had to stick my head under one of the outdoor showers though, hot as I was.

Merlyn and a guy…

Merlyn and a guy who is trying to get Merlyn to rent a beach chair, to enjoy a moment and have food and drink delivered.

According to Ms Wiki, ‘In the evening, Boca Chica transforms itself into a town of party bars and prostitution.’ We left around 3 thinking to get to the hotel in time for a little siesta before dinner.

…and then blew all…

…and then blew all the money we had saved by taking the bus on a chic-chic dinner. In the morning, we packed up to begin our long journey home.

Thank You Merlyn! And HUGE thanks to Alex and Carol for making it all happen.

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