Friday, March 24, 2017

Santo Domingo DR

...as least we had a car...
We rented a car for the six of us using Oliver at the marina excursion office and we received a mini van with a seriously cracked windshield and bald tires with a boom box and several amps. It also had a commercial taxi sign on the side door, so we could have offered rides as well. We are not sure where they got the car but no one asked questions. The rate was $90 US for the three couples to drive south to Santo Domingo to the colonial section of town. Meloney drove and did an unbelievable job weaving in and out of city traffic avoiding motorcylces, horses, broken down cars and trucks. We only were pulled over once for making a left turn like a pro at a 4 lane interesection where no lefts were allowed. She got out of the traffic ticket by showing Google Maps on the cell phone which had told her to make the turn. None of us could understand Spanish, he spoke no English, and so he shook his head and let us go with a stern look and a clear gesture to keep our eyes on the signs.

Fuel stop, look at the prices
Our first task leaving Samana was filling up the car which arrived on fumes. We stopped at the closet station 10 km away and we filled it up. That cost us $60 US and we ended up leaving about $20 of gas in the car at the end of the day. With wages averaging $10 per day here, this was a real win for the owner of this car. Notice the sign for the gas station prices. RD 210 per liter. The exchange rate is $1 to RD47. That works out to $4.46 per liter. One US gallon is 3.75 liters. So That means this is $4.46 x 3.75 equals $16.75 per US gallon! No wonder everyone is running around on small Honda Z3000 motorcycles. They must get 50-75 miles per gallon.
The next challenge was driving 3 hours from Samana to Santo Domingo and then finding our way around town. We crossed rice fields, rolling hills with cattle, river valleys, rugged mountain passes and finally into the metropolis of town. Once in Santo Domingo, it was C R A Z Y....like driving in NYC. Cars cutting us off, multiple lanes of traffic, signs in Spanish, treacherous culverts on the sides of the streets, children sprinting across the divided highways, few traffic lights and "Una Via" streets everywhere.

Thank goodness for Don's LTE chip on T-Mobile, so he was able to navigate for race car driver Meloney as we quickly threw ourselves into the crazy flow.









Once in the city, we stopped at a super market to secure funds from a Western Union where buddy boat Sea Star needed some serious cash to fix their bent prop and prop shaft damaged while we all crossed the Caicos Banks. They hit a coral head in the low angle morning light where none of us could see the massive coral heads as we powered at 6 knots into the sunrise. The Caicos banks are dangerous due to these large coral heads. You can not see them until it is nearly too late. Unfortunately, Sea Star caught one prop on the edge of coral and took damages. Lucky for them, here in the Dominican Republic, they hired divers to replace the shaft and prop while in the water! WOW, amazing workers like this are needed, since we have heard there are no haulouts anywhere in the DR.

After a quick stop at the very large store, we moved on to the colonial section of town. Here are some photos of the Carrefoure Store. It was a food store and a Walmart type store.

Radeen and Meloney had a funny exchange with a young employee as they tried to find a small cooler. They pantomimed "cold" by shivering, then drew a box in the air and pretended to put something in it, while saying "leche." He sent them to the aisle with jackets and sweaters! After wandering around, they found the coolers and brought one back so he could see it. They laughed together as he shook his head as if to say "Now I understand!" Part of the problem was probably the fact that milk here is all UHT milk in a box that does not need to be refrigerated until opened.


20 eggs shrink wrapped, unwashed and unrefrigerated. They will stay fresh for weeks.

Driving into the colonial section of Santo Domingo, we enjoyed seeing the street vendors' carts of coconut water drinks and fruit stands. The DR people are so hard working and everyone has a shop, a cart, a stand, or some crafts to sell. It is really a bustling city and it was very exciting. Especially when compared to the Bahamas or Exumas.
Coconut water drink cart

Typical fruit stand

We parked the car and walked into the colonial district where we bought a very valuable English audio tour of the Cathedral Primada de America Catholic Church, the first cathedral in the new world. Construction began with the consecration of the land in 1514. Over the next 200+ years, they continued to add twelve small chapels onto the sides of the main sanctuary. The church is in amazing shape and was very impressive.






In the plaza outside the church is the monument of Christopher Columbus who sailed into Santo Domingo on December 5, 1492. This is believed to be his third landfall in the New World after first landing at San Salvador in the Bahamas and next Rum Island/Long Island and then here.




After our tours, we were guided to a lovely local restaurant named Mimosa by one of the government tourist guides who keep you safe from the locals who try to walk you out of the safe zone to shake you down. We all enjoyed a very fine lunch of various pasta meals and chicken dishes along with a dozen beers. The total bill for all 6 of us was 4,740 RD including tax and tip. This comes out to $108 US divided by 3 equaled $36 per couple! We are finding the local prices to be very reasonable and with the beer costing 100 RD or $2.12 apiece we can see why so many people vacation here.



Here are a few photos of walking around Santo Domingo





We bumped into this local arts celebration with a band and marching girls. They all looked so cute and happy and proud.





 After a full day in town, it was time to hit the road and drive the 3+ hours back to Samana where we arrived around 2030 hrs. What a fun day of touring the countryside of the Dominican Republic and the city of Santo Domingo. This country has so much to offer and it seems like the people are very hard working and proud of their country, as well as very friendly. The DR is a must stop place on the sailing cruising tour.


The drive from Samana to Santo Domingo 
3+ hour drive

4 comments:

Cynthia Palmer said...

Heyyyyyyyy!!! We miss you but are loving reading your last 3 posts about getting to and now enjoying the DR! Great posts!! We're still on Sand Dollar Beach waiting for this front (25-35 kt NNE winds) to subside next week so we can sail north. Keep posting - love the photos and the stories!!

Tom Dailey said...

Wow! What an experience. Thank you for sharing all of the wonderful details and photos. Enjoy your time there and safe travels! Your fans, Lesa & Tom Dailey

Gary McCoy said...

Great blog. Since we didn't take our Sabre 42 GATSBY any farther than the Exumas (loved the Exumas!), your adventures on ISLAND SPIRIT in the DR rock our world here in sedate Venice, FL.

T Knox said...

loved the photos of the cathedral ceilings.Reminded me of an M.C. Escher print.Nice eye for framing it.