My day started at six o’clock in the morning eating a bit of leftover hogfish for breakfast with a few cold cuts thrown in for good measure, and the taxi showed up on time for my trip to the airport. I had three flights awaiting to get me the relatively short distance from the Bahamas to the Dominican Republic. Talk about overkill.
The first leg was ridiculous as I was chosen by U.S. Customs in Florida for some sort of agriculture screening even though I wasn’t coming into the country but merely in transit. So I went through a laborious half hour ordeal that involved tearing apart my perfectly stuffed backpack. It was at this point in his search that the agent came up with enough pills to have kept Bill Cosby’s dates unconscious throughout the sixties and seventies.
I have medication that I need to have with me that isn’t always easy to get ahold of, and if I could it would be very expensive so I stocked up last year in the Baltics. Seriously, what am I supposed to do? My country’s medical system is shit, my insurance doesn’t provide medication on my pre-existing condition and I travel for eight months at a crack. I take three big pills a day so it gets bulky! At any rate, I kept my cool, and got out my prescriptions and explained my world traveling justifications, and that even though they are a controlled substance, they are not something that people would ever consider using recreationally.
The U.S. Customs officer still advised getting a newer prescription to cover the sheer volume of tablets, but I skipped telling him that my doctor probably wouldn’t write one for so many pills. He was a nice guy, and realized it was probably in America’s best interest to have me properly medicated, and sent me on my way. At least now I don’t have to worry about bouncing around Tunisia in some manic frenzy only to end up beheaded as some sort of demon possessed apostate. The irony is that I discussed the fact that I carried so much medication with me with a friend the day before, and made light of the fact that I had never run into any problems.
It reminds me of a conversation I had with a Californian in Laos who shared a terrible travel dysentary story, whereby I chimed in that I had avoided such a miserable fate in over fifty years of travels. The next night my bathroom was transformed into a Tarantino movie set, only with feces instead of blood. I can’t tell you how many times I sprinted to that bathroom over the next three days, but I am grateful that it was fully tiled with a drain in the middle.
Anyway I made it through the next two airports without incident. I even had a delicious ribeye in Chili’s before leaving Ft. Lauderdale. When I finally arrived in Santo Domingo, and pulled up to my previously reserved B&B at 9:30pm, they had no bed for me. I amazed myself once more, when I didn’t even wince. Hugo, the manager was very nice, and hooked me up with a comfy private room with AC just a few blocks away with a discount that would more than make up for the deposit I would forfeit with Hostelworld. I was quickly directed to a good restaurant for some chicken in mushroom sauce, rice, beans and fried plantains.
Picked up eggs and butter for my home cooked breakfasts on the way back to the hotelita.
Eleven o’clock and all is well.
Wrong! The next morning I was informed that I would need to check out the next day due to a lack of space. However, I found a wonderful little place in a much better location just 100 meters from the ocean, and a stone’s throw from the Zona Colonial which is the main historical and cultural tourist center replete with historical buildings, shaded squares, restaurants and plenty of shopping.
BOUTIQUE HOTEL MALECON – My Final Location
All the comforts of home with laptop station, T.V., AC, fridge and kitchenette. They even have a gym and spa!
One thing I have learned in my travels is that total flexibility is key to peace of mind, and that usually any thwarted plans result in better outcomes in the long run just as long as you roll with it.
D’LUIS – My new favorite Dominican Grill.
I had finally kickstarted my Dominican experience today and, still have a full five days here. I had a delicious local, grass fed, 16oz. T-bone steak for lunch with an ocean view for $11. Yeah baby.
Here’s some of that ocean view.
There goes some of that grass fed beef.
STREET ART NEAR MY HOTEL
HOLD THE PRESSES!!!
ALL OF MY BIG TALK ABOUT VISITING MY HUNDREDTH COUNTRY THIS YEAR JUST WENT UP IN SMOKE. I WAS REMINDED WHEN RESEARCHING MY CRUISE THAT MANY OF THE CARIBBEAN ISLANDS ARE MERELY PROTECTORATES OF INDEPENDENT COUNTRIES AND NOT COUNTRIES IN THEIR OWN RIGHT.
I HAD LONG FAILED TO REVIEW MY LIST OF COUNTRIES VISITED. IT TURNS OUT THAT FIVE OF THE COUNTRIES ON MY LIST FELL INTO THIS CATEGORY. THESE INCLUDED ARUBA, BERMUDA, CURAÇAO, CAYMAN ISLANDS AND ST. MARTIN. IN FACT I EVEN ADDED CYPRUS LAST MONTH TO MAKE UP FOR ONE SUCH ERROR, BUT FAILED TO SPOT THE REST AT THE TIME. IF I’D FIGURED IT OUT EARLIER I MIGHT HAVE BEEN ABLE TO MAKE ADJUSTMENTS, BUT I’VE GOT A GREAT LINEUP THIS YEAR AS IT IS. AT LEAST I DIDN’T HAVE TO BEAR THE INDIGNITY OF HAVING A BIG PARTY ONLY TO REALIZE I HAD COME UP SHORT. THEN I WOULD HAVE REALLY FELT LIKE AN IDIOT.
I WILL END MY YEAR WITH AN ADMIRABLE NINETY-FIVE COUNTRIES. I’VE ALREADY GOT MY EYE ON OCEANIA NEXT YEAR, AND WOULDN’T MIND HITTING NUMBER ONE HUNDRED IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC, SAY ON THE SCUBA DIVING SENSATION OF PALAU. THEN I COULD ALSO FINALLY VISIT AUSTRALIA WHILE I’M IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD BEFORE THE GREAT BARRIER REEF IS COMPLETELY DESTROYED. LOOKS LIKE NEXT YEAR IS GOING TO BE ACTION PACKED, AND I SUPPOSE THERE’S NO SHAME IN COMPLETING MY GOAL A YEAR AND A HALF AHEAD OF SCHEDULE. I PLAN TO DO THE FULL CIRCUMNAVIGATION OF THE GLOBE FOR THE FIRST TIME.
I PLAN TO MAKE MY FIFTH YEAR MUCH MORE RELAXED THAN THE PREVIOUS FOUR. I MIGHT DO SOME HOUSESITTING TO SAVE UP SOME MONEY, AND I HAVE THREE MONTHS EARMARKED FOR FRANCE ALONE.
It reminds me of Cuba a little, but their cigars and music are not as good.
The Dominicans seem to take pride in their country as evidenced by the ubiquitous flags, and I must admit it is one of the most handsome flags on the world stage. Unfortunately, there is a lot of trash in the streets and on the beaches. Stray dogs tearing open refuse filled plastic bags is a common sight throughout Santo Domingo, and the people of this island would not be the first to exercise a fervent disregard for their own rubbish.
The beautiful country of Vietnam is absolutely inundated with the stuff, even in rural areas. My friend, Karen, observed how nice and clean things looked on this posting, but it is merely due to careful photography much like an agency for tourism might endeavor to produce.
Unlike Vietnam, the taxi drivers and street vendors don’t try and overcharge you. This is a welcome attribute and one I am most grateful for having contended with a lot of unseemly behavior in many countries.
I know it was looking pretty idyllic, but here’s some of that trash I was telling you about.
CATEDRAL PRIMADA DE AMERICA – One of the oldest cathedrals in the Western Hemisphere.
PARQUE COLON – This is the main park in the center of the Zona Colonial.
CALLE EL COLON – The main pedestrian street in the Zona Colonial.
Larimar – This stone is a rare blue variety of the silicate mineral, pectolite, which is only found here in the Dominican Republic near a volcano in one area measuring one square kilometer. It is one of the more popular souvenirs to be found throughout the Zona Colonial, but make sure to educate yourself on what dictates a quality specimen. Most of the pieces for sale in Santo Domingo are junk, and it doesn’t cost much to acquire a top grade stone.
Much of the time they are also poorly set in flimsy lightweight silver settings that you end up paying too much for so I recommend picking up some high grade loose stones. Fortunately, I have a son in law who is a jeweler, but if you don’t want to bother with that, the earrings are usually better constructed since lightweight is a good thing when it comes to earrings.
In Santo Domingo it is common to see locals outdoors playing board games, dominoes and cards. Often they will set up a card table outside one of hundreds of small markets, and enjoy a frosty cerveza to go along with their little social gathering. I would advise learning to play dominoes before going. It looked like it would have been fun to join in on one of the many games I passed, but since I didn’t know how to play I missed out. My Spanish is plenty good to hang out so it was a shame. If I return I’ll get that domino situation sorted out.
SATURDAY AFTERNOON – All of a sudden this parade just appeared out of nowhere on the main pedestrian street that cuts through the Zona Colonial. By and large, I have found Dominicans to be a warm, friendly and happy people.
My days here have been spent mainly planning and preparing for my coming journeys, and kind of living like a local here in my little studio apartment. I take my daily stroll on the malecon to my favorite open air, ocean view restaurant where my greatest concern is choosing seafood or beef.
It was worth the early mucking about with hotels to ease into this lazy island smorgasbord of taste delights. In fact, I think that’s pretty much going be the way things go throughout the next ten islands before the ship I board in Guadalupe take me across the Atlantic to Rome.
Who am I fooling, I’ve still got Malta, Greece and Cyprus to contend with this year. To think I could still be watching my life drip out my sleeve working in that tiny watch store, indulging the whims and egos of wealthy consumers filling their lives with expensive trinkets designed to measure the time that they squander on meaningless activities. And so it goes.
Oh the humanity!
There is a unparalleled contentment that comes with the feeling one gains when you realize that you wouldn’t change lives with anyone on the planet. It’s nice to have arrived at that place before I’ve turned sixty. I’m fortunate to have gotten here at all.
MODERN ART MUSEUM – Top Class Exhibitions – Entry Fee $2.00
ANATOMY OF BEING – Iris Pérez
Iris PÉREZ – Heavenly Song – 2017
Iris PÉREZ – Anatomy of Being – 2015
Iris PÉREZ – Human Energy – 2015
Iris PÉREZ – From the Series “Roads of the South” – 2016
Iris PÉREZ – Cosmic Journey – 2016
Iris PÉREZ – Vital Connection I – 2016
Iris PÉREZ – Vital Connection II – 2017
Iris PÉREZ – From the Series “Vital Energy” – 2016
Iris PÉREZ – The Night and the Cocuyos – 2017
Ramón OVIEDO – The Peddler – 1969
Rosa TAVÁREZ – The Last Supper – 1994
Inés TOLENTINA – The Ceremony – 2012
ROSARIO RIVERA BOND
Rosario Rivera BOND
Rosario Rivera BOND
Ramón OVIEDO – One Going, One Coming – 1974
Pedro TERREIRO – Orgasmic Cosmic – 1992
THE PRESIDENTIAL PALACE
PALACIO VIRREINAL DE DIEGO COLÓN – Palace of Diego Columbus – Brother of Christopher