Dominican Republic Week 5

Day 1 – Wednesday 13 April 2011
Back in Bonao and spending time with my TĂ­o Joel and TĂ­a Olympia who lived in New York the entire time I was growing up but have now retired in the DR. By retired I mean they built an apartment complex and are living off it.

Today a riot broke out in the streets of Bonao and the only safe place to be was in the country club so that’s where we went. It would have been great except a monsoon struck and we spent the whole time in the restaurant area looking at the empty pool.

Day 2 – Thursday 14 April 2011

Today I headed off to Santo Domingo, the capital, to be a tourist and visit all the museums but most importantly to do some serious research in the national archives found in La BiblĂ­oteca NacĂ­onal. I got into the city quite late and I knew it would be getting dark soon, I’ve been told that the city is much more dangerous than Bonao so I thought I would play it safe and stay close to the hotel. I went to dinner at a fast food place (money is tight and at least I went to a Dominican chain as opposed to McDonalds).

Later in the evening to went to a local bar for a drink and met this guy named Leonardo. He spoke some English (though not very well) but we conversed in Spanish anyway. We got along pretty well and talked for a few hours. It quickly became 10pm and he starts freaking out because he’s late somewhere. He tells me “come on.”

Thinking about it now I probably should not have gotten in his car but I’m glad I did. Next thing I know I’m in a television studio for a live taping of ‘ChĂ©vere Nights’ - a talk/variety show. I’m shuffled into the green room and somehow find myself helping Leo into a Batman costume while being surrounded by half naked men getting into Superman, Spiderman and Mr. Incredible costumes. Oh and there was a Batgirl thrown in there too.

We run out to the set and I stand next to the producer while they prepare for the next scene. I should state the show was already taping when we arrived and it’s live… talk about a close call. The skit commenced and although poorly rehearsed it was pretty funny, I was surprised no one cracked… especially Leo as he took the most hits to the now improvised skit (there was a script but it was thrown out the moment the camera rolled).

In the next commercial break I was introduced to the crew, the cast and the host (Milagros German). She is a local celebrity who has this television show plus a radio show.

Day 3 – Friday 15 April 2011
Got up pretty early and did some touristy stuff in the colonial zone. The south eastern quadrant of the city (La Zona ColonĂ­al) is the original city built by the Columbus family so there are plenty of cool places to see and some small but decent museums.

At lunch time I headed over to the Plaza de la Cultura, a central park (about 10 minutes by car from the colonial zone) where all the major museums and National Library are held (You St. Louisians should think of Forest Park). I fought with the taxi driver (before I got in) over the price but eventually we settled on something we could both agree on. The cab fare would be in vain as when I arrived I soon discovered that the whole park was being remodelled and all the museums (and National Library) were closed until further notice. Of course none of this information was listed anywhere and the cab driver failed to mention it as well… I was pretty pissed as the Library was my main reason for coming to Santo Domingo. Now that I knew who my Grandfather’s superior was and also where he was stationed I wanted to get as much info as I could. Shame.

I debated what to do next as I didn’t want to mope around so I got in touch with Leo. He instructed me to get on the Metro and head over to his house. I was not planning on using the Metro here but figured what the hell… let me save the cab fare. The Metro was surprisingly clean, efficient, and well guarded. There was a police officer at the entrance, on every platform and in every carriage of the train. The train itself was exactly like the St. Louis MetroLink and the London DLR. About 15 minutes later I arrived in Bella Villa, a neighbourhood just north of the centre and I saw an amazing cluster of homes that resembled the Favellas that you would find in Rio.

I met with Leo and had lunch at his house. We spent the day driving around and seeing part of the city I had no intention on seeing. Being in his car made everything much more accessible and having him as a tour guide was quite useful. We drove past the favellas so I could take a picture and then we went to the equivalent of the DMV where Leo had to renew his drivers licence. Then we went to a salon where his hair was straightened… that boys hair was a mess.

While driving around some more Milagros radio show comes on and so we listen and guess what? I had a personal welcome to Santo Domingo right there on national radio. I was completely shocked and thought wow my life is awesome.

I returned to the hotel, had dinner, and then Leo returned with two tickets to the theatre. I had wanted to see a Dominican play but since I’m on a strict budget had decided against it. We went to the Teatro NacĂ­onal where ‘Mujeres Al Desnudo’ was playing. Leo knew the producer and so we chatted for a bit before the show.

The show itself was good, a bit heavy at times, but was a good example of a Dominican/New York life. The main actress (MarilĂş Acosta) was very good – and I mean very good – she danced, sang and talked in poetry for the majority of the show. The rest of the cast was ok and there was one girl who was clearly too young to play her character but you got to give her applause for trying. Having a career in the arts here is very difficult and I can praise the lead all I want, I have to remember that she received her training and lives in New York while the rest of the cast are born and bred Dominicans.

After the show we went for a few drinks and had a pretty relaxed and fun night.

Day 4 – Saturday 16 April 2011

Did some more touristy things in the Colonial Zone and then spent the afternoon sitting by the pool at the hotel. The heat was too much.

In the evening I went for a drink at this really posh hotel not too far from mine. They have an outdoor bar in the back overlooking the Fortress Wall that surrounds the zone and the river just beyond that. I met this guy named Riad there and we closed the bar.

Day 5 – Sunday 17 April 2011

Riad and I went to lunch at a French Cafe (was not expecting to find a place like that in a residential zone in Santo Domingo) and then continued to tour the rest of the Colonial Zone that I hadn’t seen yet.

The most notable was the Columbus Palace (Alcázar de ColĂłn) that laid on the north end of the Spanish Plaza. The Palace was strategically placed in this area by Diego ColĂłn (Columbus’s son) so that it overlooked the original settlement his father built out of wood while admiring the stone metropolis he governed.

The rest of the day was pretty relaxed and I spent my last night in Santo Domingo eating fried chicken and chilling in my hotel room.

Day 6 – Monday 18 April 2011

The day was pretty simple. I left Santo Domingo and headed to the Northern Coast. Puerto Plata would be my vacation within this ‘vacation’ as I would be staying in a 4 star resort (no kids allowed) right on the beach. The trip there was pretty simple and straight forward.

Once I arrived, I relaxed by the pool while I waited for Dinner to be served and then I gorged myself. Afterwards I listened to some live jazz and called it an early night. The day’s travel had wiped me out.

Day 7 – Tuesday 19 April 2011

Day started off a little later than expected. I woke up early with all intention of hitting the beach the entire day but it rained all morning. There was about an hour of sunshine in the middle of the day, which I took advantage off, but then it continued to rain some more. I enjoyed the day nonetheless.

Then I got a phone call from home. My grandmother has had a stroke.

My mother assures me that Mama (what I call my grandmother) is stable and much better. The one thing she asks is that I be home for mother’s day. My time in DR would have to be cut short, but I must oblige, after all my grandmother is a key in all this and I need to make sure I make my peace with her and the past before it’s too late.


**All pictures taken on a Galaxy S Android Phone**
Dominican Republic Week 5 Dominican Republic Week 5 Reviewed by ChristĂłpher Abreu Rosario on 15:30 Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. Ah 'don't remember' that painting ;)

    Sorry to hear about tu abuela. Strangely mi abuela had a mini stroke as well recently.

    Looks like you had a nice trip. Keep safe!



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