Friday, September 14, 2012

Trip to Santo Domingo

Oblisk at the Malecon in Santo Domingo
We have been wanting to take a trip to Santo Domingo for at least a year now. It's all they way on the other side of the island from Luperon and involves a gua gua ride and two buses to get to there from here. We had the prefect excuse since Santo Domingo is the capital of the Dominican Republic. Rene needed to renew his Dutch passport and that's where the embassy is located. There were six of us on the trip, Troy and I, Rene and Stacy and Patrick and Lucy.

We headed out on Sunday morning and had a fairly uneventful trip. The bus rides were great and the gua gua was an adventure as always! There were 7 of us (including the driver) in a small Toyota type meant to carry 5, tops; 2 in front and three in back! So we went with 3 in front and 4 in back. I got to ride in the middle, in front on the console with a cushion on top of it. There were a couple of instances where I accidentally shifted the car into neutral with my leg, but the driver took it all in stride!

Only one little bit of excitement on the 30 minute ride. It's not unusual to see herds of cows being driven down the middle of the road, in fact, it would be more unusual not to see a couple of herds along the way. We recognize the signs by now. Usually one guy is ahead of the herd and he waves a red flag to let oncoming traffic know what lies ahead. It could be anywhere from 2 or 3 cows to a whole big herd. We met a fairly good sized herd along the way and the driver slowed almost to a stop for the oncoming cows. All was going as planned until the cow directly in front of our car was mounted by a bull that came up right behind her. I could see my life flashing before my eyes (that's not ALL I could see, I got a pretty good look at the working parts of the, ahem, bulls reproductive system) when it seemed that the both of them would certainly come crashing through our windshield. Fortunately, the bull decided that he might have picked the wrong time and place to display his amorous feelings. It was all over in a matter of seconds and the driver never even blinked an eye.

We finally made it to Santo Domingo – 1 thirty minute, exciting gua gua ride, two bus rides (1 lasting 45 minutes and 1 lasting about 2 hours) and a short taxi ride to our hotel. We took a walk down the malecon and to the shopping square where we found the Hard Rock Cafe. We couldn't resist the chance for a great hamburger and a few cold beers, not to mention the air conditioning! By that time, we were ready to head back to our rooms and get some rest, in the air conditioning (do you see the pattern?).

Catedral de Santa Maria la Menor
     The next day Rene headed out to take care of his business while the rest of the part set out on foot for some shopping. We did a lot of walking in two days and we enjoyed our morning of shopping. By the time we met up with Rene again we decided to check out the Catedral de Santa Maria la Menor. It is the oldest cathedral in the Americas, having been started in 1512 and completed in 1540. Women must wear skirts below the knee to enter. It was absolutely beautiful inside and we spent about an hour just taking it all in. We had a wonderful Haitian guide who spoke to us about the history of the cathedral and answered our questions.

Before we knew it, it was time to head back to Luperon. We enjoyed the big city but without transportation it was difficult to take it all in. It is the capital of the Dominican Republic and has a population of over 3.7 million. It is also the largest city (by population) in the Caribbean. We are used to the crazy driving in this county, but we were left in a daze after a taxi ride through the busiest part of the city. Not by the speed, but by the sheer number and closeness of the cars and motorcycles. They drive within inches of one another, they use their horns (a lot) and somehow, they almost never hit each other.

We definitely enjoyed our trip to Santo Domingo and we are already planning some other fun trips around the country.

Inside the Cathedral - Stunningly Beautiful

Reloj de Sol (Sun Dial)
Sun Dial

Christopher Columbus' sons palace
Tommy Lee!

An artists gallery
Jethro Tull's flute at the Hard Rock

1 comment:

Mike McGuire said...

That's an absolutely beautiful place! Great photos and story to go along with them. Thanks for sharing!