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DOMINICAN REP    DIARY  4

Photos   Map & Plan   Diary 1 2 3 4

       From Diary 3 and the wildness, I now reaches the capital.
3/3 2019.
The plan for the day is just to enjoy the drive to the capital, find my B&B and relax. I am not really sure about the hostel: I got a picture of what look like a farmhouse with horses in front, but it is supposed to be located one kilometre from the centre of Santo Domingo, which look like an American big city some nights ago. Then again, this is the Dominican Republic...

The first part of the road is through the southern desert, after I have cleared the cane fields, but inland. Here are some irrigated fields with cane, bananas and mango, and some huge ones with tomatoes. I've been here before, but I have to stop several times on the 40 kilometre stretch, when I reach the hilly desert. I might not find new plants, but here are some great motives. One I have seen before, but it good enough for another picture.
Despite it is so dry the cacti are suffering, some of the herbs are flowering nice, and some of the bushes are lush green. The steeper hills have quite some Agavas, but I don't bother climbing the loose gravel.

I make a 50 kilometre detour to the peninsular on which Las Caldras is found. It have a harbour, but when I get to it, it turns out to be the Naval Base, and I'm not really welcome. I head on towards the point, and it turn interesting. First, I find a nice mangrove. On the other side of the road are some partly overgrown but huge dunes.
Further out, some large salt ponds are found, along with an old "factory". Here are a beach on each side, and I do a long walk on the ocean-facing one. Here are several shells and alike, on the glowing sand.

I head back, and follow the main road for a while. Then I turn into the coastal road, which at first is a narrow gravel road. It leads through some rich farm land, with cane, mangrove and cattle. Then it turn into vine-overgrown forest, and here start to be a few small towns.

I pass several beaches, but they are overcrowded on this Sunday, and the music it way too loud. I rather come back during the weekdays - or not.
A huge flee market is found along and not least: ON the highway. It look more like trash, and I rather not leave my bag in the car, exploring it.
The highway/promenade is blocked near the centre of town - it turns out to be the local carnival, and every space possible to park on, is rented out. I pass the huge parliament building, but here are way to hectic today. I find my B&B right away, and they have parking on the premises. I'm shown a three person dormitory, and choose the single bed. I find literas feel like sleeping on a mountain-bus.
I get a cup of coffee, and a promises on tea in the morning. It is only four, but I don't feel like finding out, what is happening on the promenade. I just start working.
I get offered vegetarian supper for US$4, and why not? I get to nice Germans to share the room with, and we chat a bit about life. The Southern Desert and the Las Caldras peninsular.

4. The poor German is having a love-affair with the toilet, and I offers to walk his girlfriend. We start by the water, which actually offers a real nice sandy beach a few hundred metres from the centre of town. Here start to be some real nice old houses, some of them dating back hundreds of years. A single new parking house is covered in vertical gardens: Green plants on mattresses, hanging on the walls.

We reach the big and real nice pedestrian street, with art, cafes and souvenirs. I actually petty sure we see more souvenir-shops than tourists today. Besides from the Chinese plastic stuff, they do have some real nice wooden carvings and paintings along with what I suspect is Haitian metal works.
We stop to rehydrate at a little cosy cafe, offering all kind of Jugos - juice, but they only have three. Anyway, they are delightful, and refreshed, we head on.

We reach the Mercado Modelo, which unfortunately only contains souvenir shops, and they are desperate. Brining a girl, make it harder to avoid them, and we make a fast walk straight through. On the other side, a few fruit, vegetable and chicken stands are found. I saw some yesterday, and here again a lot of the Turkish Hat cactus. I doubt they eat them, but I have to find out. My host later informs me, it is for gardens, not consuming. The live and butchered hens are keep a bit too close for my liking.

Then we pass the San Nicolas de Bari hospital ruins on our way to the river. Here are a few other typical Spanish Colonial buildings. We see the real nice National Pantheon and Park Independencia along with other impressive buildings. We end at the real nice pedestrian street again, and find a cafe, serving Vegetarian Sandwiches: Quite neat for two vegetarians. Well, it end up with ham in, but it is easily removed. And they have several real nice looking cakes, and we have to try two. As usually, they did look better than they tasted.

We are back at three, and I kind of call it a day. The sun have gone, and it have become steamy. I just start working. At seven, I give the Germans a lift to their flight. The 30 kilometres take an hour out, and only half back. I get the rest of their pesos, and are better paid than the taxi. Santa Domingo 1

5. I left that car on the road, and figure I might as well can drive out to the Jadin Botanico Nacional. It is ten kilometres through dense morning traffic, but worth it. It is a huge garden, around 1300 x 1300 metres, and real nice kept. Here is a huge orchid collection, and they grow them in some materials I haven't seen before.
Their cactus and succulent collection, on the other hand, is disappointing. Hardly any of the plants are really thriving, and here are not a single nametag. Well, that goes for the rest of the garden too.
I do a lot of walking, and see the arboretums, the butterfly house and I am really impressed with their huge Japanese Garden. It have several ponds, nicely cut tees, bridges and huge wild grown but decorative trees.

Like the Japanese garden, the rest have several large and nice looking ponds. Here is a small butterfly house with a few butterflies.  In deep contrast to poor underdeveloped countries like Denmark, they have a well functional tissue-lab. Jadin Botanico Nacional

At noon, I have not seen it all, but the most interesting areas, and I head home. I even remember to gas the car, so I won't have to do it the morning I return it.  I have to charge my GPS before I head back to town, and grab some bananas and biscuits in the kitchen.

As I like the old part of Santo Domingo (and have nothing else lined up), I head back and wander around the rest of the day. I see Capilla del Hospitalde san Lázero, then I find another way to Mercado Modelo, where I spend some more time, investigating the souvenirs. Here are quite some nice handmade small things, and I get to buy too many. But I love the traditional Taino iron-wood cuttings, I must have something in the local semi-precarious stone; Larimar, A bone own are always nice at that price, the Taino good is a must and the guy partially give me the fish in local amber and I have to have a piece of horn-work, and why not the another Tainon good?

I have now seen the most shops in the market, but I was the only costumer. On the back side of the market, I see the few fruit stands once again, and I ask one of the guys, selling cacti: Do you eat them. Yes, he says, they are good for the stomach. I'll have that in mind, should I get a problem...

The sun is still not really with me, but I revisit some of the old buildings anyway. First the ruins of Monasterio de san Francisco. I get a glimpse of sun, and the photo is so much better. At Plaza de Espana and the long building of Alcázar de Colón, the sun have gone again. Behind it, I find a view to three bridges: An arch, a floating and a suspension.
Next up is Museo de las Casas Reales, but I am satisfied with a look from outside.

I follow the rather uninteresting river to the old building the Trampoline Children's Museum is found in, where a huge tent is being erected in the entire courtyard. Next to it is Fortaleza Ozama, a quit little fortress. Next up is the large Cathedral: Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación.

On the way back to the pedestrian street, I pass some other old houses, and then I find a cafe with a olive-feta sandwich. I follow the pedestrian street from one end to the other, but don't look at a single shop. I end up at Park Independencia, and find my cosy B&B on the other side. I'm home at four, and that causes for something real special: Trousers washing! I start working while they soak.
Then staff offers me no supper, but I want to use my beans anyway. Unfortunately, we are out of gas, and I have to wait to half pass eight, before I can cook. Good thing I had that sandwich!
Jadin Botanico Nacional and old Santo Domingo

6. I didn't really need this day, but at least, I get to spend it in the real nice Santo Domingo. I take my time at the breakfast, and then walk a bit outwards of town, to reach the promenade. Here are several small fortresses: Fuerte de San Gil and Fuerte de San Jose and rocky cliffs reach the sea. Some huge Boettger's lizards; Gallotia caesaris are hunting on the narrow grassland between the road and the cliffs, and wasn't it for all the huge trucks on the road, it would be a tranquil area.
A lot of people are working on cleaning the beaches and the sidewalks, probably after the carnival. It is not all houses that are in a pristine condition; some are actually hollow ruins along the promenade.

I head towards the large river and the centre of town, and set the GPS for Faro a Colón. As I pass along the coast, I get to see the quite impressive wall, protecting the old town and its fortresses. A real huge wall seem rather new new, but actually more disintegrated than the old ones.

I cross the huge river on the floating bridge, and see some fishermen on the other side. One is selling live fish, and it must be for aquariums.
I make a shortcut by a neighbourhood with small houses, broken down cars, crappy sealing but happy people. The monument is huge, strange and I fail to make sense of it. It have been a real long walk, and I head back to town.

In the pedestrian street, I find a Plata del Dia, with cheese tart and salad along with a big glass of fresh passion fruit juice. I look at the shops in the pedestrian street on the way home, but here are not really anything new. I make it back to the B&B at half pass one, just for a pit-stop. Mainly because I am running low on ideas on what to entertain myself with.

Then I head back, using the parallels streets to the pedestrian. The first part is through an alley of fig trees, like the one I have at home - although bigger. The backstreets are a completely different world: Here are hardly any shops, and the houses are in general in need of a bit of maintenance. I find Iglesia de Las Mercedes with fig tree.

I turn around and cross the pedestrian street, just where a cafe have some great looking cakes - unfortunately without much taste. The other parallel street is pretty much as dead, but it have Iglesia de Nuestra Senora del Carman with a mess - and a huge fig tree. I start wondering, if it actually are Bodhi trees; Ficus religiosa, and it is (secret tree in India, under which Buddha meditated).  - and even more Santo Domingo and HIGHLIGHTS

Back at home, I pay my bill, and start working in the late afternoon. I have spend 13 days in this nice country, and feel I have seen it. I have taken 2380 photos and driven 2314 kilometres. In general, more photos than kilometres make it a good experience. Never the less, it is not a country I plan to return to. From here, I head to Puerto Rice.
The price was pretty much as expected:
 

EXPENSES DKK Pesos
Shared*  (part of a 92 day tour) 1.989 14.899
Flight to here 1.353 10.135
Rental car + gas 5.128 38.412
Entrance 104 776
Hotels 2.274 17.030
Food 895 6.703
Other: Gear, souvenirs 427 3.198
TOTAL: 12.169 91.153
*) Error flights+London, return DK, insurance, vaccinations, guidebook, gear i.e.

Photos   Map & Plan   Diary 1  2  3  4