Did You Miss Me?
I’m back! We had a great time in the land that time forgot, and learned many interesting things along the way:
- My skin can not handle the Caribbean sun. I burned to a crisp within the first hour, even while using SPF 15 sunscreen on an overcast (or I would have used SPF 45+ like I did for the remainder of the time) day. The good news is that it looked much worse than it felt.
- The resort we stayed at has a resident MiniMart employee who looks exactly like a young Anthony Perkins a la Psycho, had Anthony Perkins been of Indian decent… Creepy (mother?)
- It’s not as easy as you might think to get a good glass of wine on an island that is ruled by the French… Shameful.
- The local grocery stores are frightening places. They smell awful, keep unrefrigerated milk(?), and have salted fish (heads and all) mounded up on shelves in the middle of their shops adding to the overall third-world ambiance of the place.
- High hopes for an excursion to the Island’s Captial were crushed by several factors; mangy animals roam everywhere including inside many bistros (dogs, cats, chickens, and toucans). In fact, en route there we had to swerve around a cow standing in the middle of the road. This prompted me to comment about the possibility of having steak for dinner. Sadly, the taxi driver did not seem amused. After we arrived, we decided to stop in some random bar on the boardwalk near where the cruise ships dock. After a fashion (and several rum based drinks) I excused myself to use the men’s room. I walked to the other side of the bistro, found the room I needed and opened the door that was already slightly ajar… Whacking the young man who was inside in the process. The kid finished his business, and I entered to find no way to latch the door behind me… So, I spent the next few minutes taking a whiz while holding the door shut with one of my feet… Charming.
- A platoon of heavily armed men casually strolling around a city together in fatigues is an unnerving sight while doing a casual night on the town.
- While in the City, I had the sense that I stumbled into a landscape very similar to what one sees in the movie Casablanca. It’s hot, Africa hot; and there are all these little open air bistros and cafes and I’m half-expecting to see one named “Rick’s.” We came to this particular “city” to try some food at a local restaurant, and get away from the rather fine resort where we were staying. We checked out many a menu and listened to the finest spiels the locals could muster for everything from goat head something, to ox tail stew, to jerk chicken, to free appetizers offered us by a gay French maitre d’ sporting a beret, and a bandanna tied round his neck (surreal). What we ended up doing was grabbing a quick drink at a little open air bistro with a bunch of sorry looking sun drenched castaways. One of whom looked like the doctor from the Cannonball Run.
- Alcohol is dirt cheap there, and can be procured anywhere and on many street corners just in case you want to boost your blood alcohol content while walking to one of the numerous bars. However, canned beverages do not contain 12 oz. they contain 11.27 oz… Suspicious.
- I can be comfortable in an infinity pool indefinitely… Especially if there’s a swim-up bar well stocked with rum!
- NEVER get a connecting flight through Santo Domingo. This was a hellish experience that I don’t care to relive except for the fantastically good blog fodder it provides…
While there, we get routed as “tourists” to customs officials instead of as transit passengers . At customs, nobody speaks English except to tell us that we need to pay $10 American for “Tourism Card.” WTF? We are never leaving the airport, and will only be here for two hours! We go to the lady who is issuing tourism cards who, thankfully, does speak some English. She informs us that we don’t need tourism cards and that customs officials do not (for the most part) habla English. She tells us to keep saying, “Transito”.
So, my wife and I walk around like parrots for a while saying transito until someone who half-understands directs us to an American Airlines representative who, again, thankfully speaks a bit of English. She translates for us at customs and we are cleared through… However, this now means that we need to go back through security to get to our connecting flight, which also means that we need to duplicate the paperwork that customs already collected on the other side of security, where we just came from!
Once that fiasco is complete, we both desperately need drinks. So we find a restaurant and while trying to decipher their menu order two Margaritas. This is a safe bet since it’s a standard beverage just about anywhere in the hemisphere. They bring us our Margaritas. I take a sip, and apparently make quite the grimace because my wife asks me if it’s “strong.” I respond by saying, “It’s something.” I like strong, strong I can deal with. I take another sip…
Besides the fact that there is enough salt on the glass, and in the Margarita itself to give me a heart attack where I sit, there is something a little more than a little off about the beverage itself. I know that taste but I can’t quite think of exactly what it is; then it hits me… They made these Margaritas with Sambuca or something similar. Why someone would do this, I haven’t a clue? I assure you, there is nothing like the putrid taste of liquorice, tequila and salt.
All in all, and despite The Dominican Republic, we had a fantastic time while vacationing. It would be hard not to in a place as beautiful as that photo I shot… Truly amazing!