Sunday, 6 April 2008
Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic
We took a trip on the local bus from Luperon to Santo Domingo on the South coast of the DR. Bus ride was an experience in itself. The rules of the road are different in the DR in that there aren't any. The bus is like an old Greyhound only they put benches in the aisle as well so 6 people sit across each row. Janine had the seat directly behind the maniacal driver looking out the front window. The trip was like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride with a twist --for the first hour we acted as the local school bus and stopped every quarter mile to pick up children as the occasional grandma with a live chicken. After this we got onto the highway where our speed excelarated and the lines on the road got fuzzy. The driver proceeded to pass cars down the middle of the highway, forcing the cars on BOTH sides of the road onto the shoulders where families on motorcycles (5 people per cycle) were travelling the wrong way against the traffic. It was mayhem!! After five scary, long hours we finally arrived, with quaking legs, in Santo Domingo. We took a taxi to the hotel we had heard about but when we got there it was a different hotel but it was clean and reasonable and they provided us with an extra bed so we stayed. We headed out to find dinner and were immediately approached by a local 'tour guide' who, after helping us find the hotel, took us to a local dominica restaurant where we sampled some of their local fare (beer). It was late by the time we finished dinner so we headed back to the hotel room and enjoyed some cable TV--what a luxury!!! We slept amazingly well, considering the hotel room did not rock and enjoyed long, warm showers in the morning. Clean and rested we set out to explore the city. It is very old with a lot of history involving Christopher Columbus. Again, we were approached by a tour guide who spoke english, french and spanish. He guided us through churches, forts, the old mansion of the dictator, a cigar factory and a few gift shops. After the tour, we took a taxi to the waterfront where the large hotels are located. It was expensive and 'touristy' there but gave us the opportunity to walk several miles back to the colonial district where our hotel was located. It seems no matter where you go we keep bumping into people we know -- Santo Domingo was no exception as we kept bumping into our cruising friends from Luperon throughout our stay. We stayed in Santo Domingo one more night and took the luxury bus back to Luperon as we could not face the local bus trip again. When we arrived back in Luperon we had a special surprise waiting for us -- Salt and Light and Wandering Dolphin had caught up to us at last!