After the fruhstucks of Villa Serena we were left ill-fortified by the meager rations at El Beatrio to face the gauntlet of tour guides, beggars and street vendors we would meet in Zona Colonial, the old historic city center of Santo Domingo. We made it to only a couple sites, the highlight of which had to be the Larimar Museum - a poetic/mystical take on geology - before we had to find sustenance in a comedoria that did not disappoint. For only 100 pesos each we ate until we were stuffed on the so-called Dominican flag: rice (arroz), chicken (pollo) and beans (frilloles).
Energized, we continued our tour only to have it heavily modified by a strong summer downpour interspersed with quick sun breaks. We dashed through Fortaleza Ozama (first castle in the Americas), Cathedral Santa María La Menor (America's first cathedral), and final found our way inside out of the rain at the National Museum. The Amber Museum provided the conclusion of our sightseeing in the form of an oh so helpful - can I just give you a tip to walk the heck away - guide.
My slow Spanish comprehension
1st Western Church in the New World
Pay no attention to the ghost in the corner
Santo Domingo Fortress
Drake attacked these walls
Interesting Map, I'm not sure about the facts or the presentation
I'm a Fan
Sightseeing complete, we took a late afternoon siesta anticipating a wild night out in the big city later. When we awoke instead to a Monday night. Monday was not the evening for Santo Domingo. Most clubs were closed Monday and Tuesday so we did our best considering conditions and dined on the pedestrian arcade. We caught up with the world on the restaraunt's wifi and traded dancing for playing with the street dogs while pining for our own puppies.
I awoke the next morning in a Rick Steves induced haze. We'd run from site to site the day previous, but I didn't really feel we'd seen the real Santo Domingo. As a result, I was quite on board when Shelly suggested we travel to what was describe to us as the local shopping mall to buy gifts for friends before departing the capital. We took the long way to the mall, some side trips intentional, others accidental. It was enjoyable not being the target of street vendors and simply another man on the street with a hot wife deserving of whistles. Ok, so we didn't quite blend in. But we gringos stumbled through town discovering all sorts of gems like a delightful produce cargo bicycle, a monument to revolutionary heroes, and a bevy of riot police taking a siesta in the park.
Fruit Vendor Cargo Bicycle
We finally located the "mall" after nearly an hour of exploration. It was not a mall at all in the western sense, but instead a farmers market ringing a building packed with tourist vendor stalls overflowing with painting, larimar, amber, baskets, cigars and carvings. I sat back and did my mute impression again as Shelly haggled with the vendors, reducing the price at least three times, sometimes ten times below the sticker price. A few chochtkes heavier and few pesos lighter we resumed our cross town trek finding the malecon (boardwalk) and Gazque, a commercial and residential district where we had a late lunch at the latin equivalent of a Boston Market.
Line Worker's Nightmare
Again our luck and timing held, learning at the end of our exploration without planning it just enough time to pay the hotel bill, hop a taxi and buy a ticket to La Romana with just one minor, but significant, complication. The bus we were promised to La Romana no longer stopped in La Romana. It went through La Romana, but it didn't stop. We were again victims of poor transportation advice. After some eye-rolling consultation and some rapid pleading in spanish on Shelly's behalf, magically the driver and staff agreed to stop the bus in La Romana and drop us off for a not too exorbitant negotiated fee. With less than a minute to spare our bags were loaded and we were aboard on our way to La Romana.