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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

FOLLOWING COLUMBUS


We each found our own place on Airbnb. Matt and I opted for more comfort for a little more money while Asa and Alisa picked a simple place to stay that was extremely affordable. We rode the bus together and tried to split a cab between the four of us, however, we could not fit with the surfboards too. Instead we agreed to met up for dinner the following evening.

Santo Domingo has a rich history, considering it is one of the main countries discovered and colonized by Christopher Columbus. We stayed in the heart of the Colonial District where it is easy to walk and see all the sites. One would find old churches, forts, ruins, art, and beautiful architecture. I learned that the entire area of Santo Domingo once had a wall built around the city and today as you approach those edges you can see the ruins from that time.


We stopped and watched a movie being filmed
This is a Priest that come over and fought for the rights of the Natives
One of our favorite snacks, ice cream. This photo is taken in front of the Royal House Museum
As we strolled through the city trying our best to get lost or stumble upon something awesome in a hidden alley way, we ended up in front of the Royal House Museum. Deciding to check it out we paid the $2.00 entrance fee and picked up our headphones to narrate the exhibits.  It was worth the price as the narrator took us through a journey back in time to tell us the stories about the royalty that lived there and the history of that era. One of the things I learned, that happened to make an impression, was that almost every priest that migrated over eventually converted to a belief that conquering these countries and enslaving the natives was wrong. They fought for many laws to be put in place that supported Natives rights. It gave me more respect for these men. From the Royal House we walked over to see Diego Columbus's house, Christopher Columbus's son. It cost another $2.00 to explore and we debated the idea but utlimately felt like we needed to be more careful in how we spend our money (I laugh now at our frugal spending of $4.00, especially considering our bar bill). Plus we were a little toured out after the hour long we spent in the Royal House Museum.

Instead we moved along making our way to Chinatown to have a quick snack. We found a place with giant pork hanging in the window, we quickly went inside and ordered a plate full with a bowl of soup to wash it down. Our bellies full we walked around the city a few more laps working our way back to the hotel. We stopped and took photos of colorful streets, theatre ruins, typical market cars, and other sites. Once back at our hotel I relaxed in the pool and used the wifi. Feeling refreshed I wanted to see a few more sites before dinner. Matt and I made our way back out in the heat for a couple more city laps. Our last stop of the day was the first Cathedral in the New World. We arrived just as they were closing, figures. I did manage to pop my head in and take a look at how stunningly beautiful the building was before being shooed away. Hanging out in the park and watching kids playing with the pigeons it was time to head back to get ready for dinner. On the way home I found a place to eat chocolate and drink coffee while Matt waited for me in the street eating the largest chicharrones I have ever seen.

Inside the Royal House
Art piece outside the Royal House
This guy was trying to give me a kiss when I stopped to say hello
The best market in town is the one out of someones car
Back at our hotel, Matt found time to go for a swim while I got ready for dinner. I confirmed with everyone that we would met at a tapas bar, since no one felt very hungry after snacking all day.  When we arrived, Alisa and Asa were already there with drinks in hand. We each ordered a small snack with a big price and shared stories about our day. I was telling Alisa the various things I learned while in the museum when she explained that her and Asa decided not to go to the museum because all they would see was relic furniture, old coins, etc. I nodded. Of course most museums, as I know them, are full of relics from that era, it seems like a typically thing you would see in a museum. What I understood is that Alisa prefers/enjoys going to an art gallery and connecting with local artists.  

Afterwards, not ready to call it a night, we decide to check out a place around the corner called Casa Mojitos. Matt and I had stopped at this place when we arrived and had the most amazing tamales I have ever eaten in my life. Everyone ordered a mojito and watched with patience as the bartender took his time to make each one. They were worth the wait!!! We walked to the back courtyard and took a seat in the plastic chairs. It was not long before we all ended up in the bar chatting with the locals and participating in a sing a long to American 80s music. As the night got later we said our good-byes to Asa and Alisa and wished them the best of luck on their journeys.

This is our hotel, notice the New Orleans vibe








The next morning, Matt and I considered the idea of missing our bus to sleep in a little longer, we were feeling those mojitos in the dreaded way. Somehow we managed to hurry up and get going. But of course the bus was an hour late, we didn’t mind, the bus station had a nice snack bar and free wifi. Once we got back to Samana, we started our last errands before we leave to the Bahamas. Carrying our things from the weekend we headed first to the bank, second to the veggie mart and finally, carrying about 15 pounds of veggies, ended our errands at the grocery store.  We picked up 6 cases of beer here (I think their whole supply), trying to save money because beer is more expensive in the Bahamas. A tuk-tuk stopped to get us and we piled all our groceries, all the beer and somehow fit the two of us as well. We also managed to make it up the hill and all the way to the marina with no incident. The next morning customs showed up right on time (6:00am), much to our relief and surprise,  in gratitude we gave them a tip.  Releasing the lines we started our sail to the Bahamas, the last islands before this adventure comes to a close.