Down in the D.R.

swing

The season in Naples has been hectic for the hubby and I. “Season” is the time of year when SWFL comes alive. “Snowbirds” as we call seasonal residents who live up North in the summer time and relocate to SWFL for the winter season are here in full force, this typically means all the stores are full, the restaurants have hours of wait times, all the fundraising events for local charities are packed into these few months (actually all major events it seems) and the traffic is horrendous.

So, with valentines day weekend and both the hubby and I having a couple of days of in a row we decided to high tail it out for a few days. The deal is… he book, I pack. So I never really know where we are going to end up until its time to pack and so two days before we left I found out… we are going to the Dominican Republic.  We will spend two days in Santo Domingo and two days in Punta Cana. I’ve gotten lots of reviews from people once I told them we were going to the D.R.

Santo Domingo –

Tripadvisor says: “Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic and a UNESCO world heritage site, is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas and one of the most populous cities in the Caribbean. The city is a mix of old world charm and modern Latin flair…”

The first thing I noticed once we got the rental car and was heading to the hotel is: There are seemingly NO TRAFFIC LAWS in Santo Domingo. NOONE obeys stop signs, stop lights, turning lanes… NONE OF IT!!!! Even when there are officers standing in the middle of the road directly traffic, people were still driving/riding however they wanted to.  A two lane road could easily be a four lane road just because of the driving and the motorcycles… lawd the motorcycles. They literally come seemingly out of nowhere and go anywhere there is a space. Thankfully, unlike most of the other islands we visited where they drive on the other side of the road as we do in the U.S. , in the D.R. it’s the same as here because I couldn’t imagine trying to navigate traffic and still remember to do that.

Another thing we noticed was how easily the neighborhoods changed. You could be driving in what seems like a pretty nice clean upscale neighborhood and one turn and the landscape changes drastically.  I wondered if there was any garbage pick up schedule and or dumpsites/landfills in Santo Domingo because of the sheer amount of garbage you see on some streets.

breakfast

That being said our stay in Santo Domingo was pleasant.  The locals were friendly as we navigate conversations without speaking the same language and the areas of interests where very interesting.  Our first stop on Valentines day after my morning workout and breakfast (tried Mangu for the first time, the native dish of boiled and mashed green plantains with red onions) was the Kah Kow Chocolate Factory. What best way to get valentines chocolate than to make your own?  It was fun and informative watching the process and then making my own bar. We then set out to explore the city.  Lot’s of tour guides offer to give us walking tours but since I’d already researched it (good old Pinterest) we decided to navigate it on our own.  It was interesting and colorful.

chocolate

kahkow

 

Later that night we went to the Malecon district (near the water) where it seems like everyone gathers to hang out, eat, socialize etc.  It was very interesting as there were a group of people dressed in white gorilla costumes (left over from carnival maybe) just literally jumping out into traffic and dancing in front of the cars.

paintings

In the midst of all this our rental car stalled and had to be pushed to the side of the road. Calling the roadside assistance and trying to navigate that phone call without speaking the language was interesting and after a 2 hour wait (thankfully in the Malecon district and not on some lonely side street) the roadside assistance came… on a motorcycle! Trying to explain to him that it was not the battery but some kind of overheating did not go well and once the car started (probably because it sat so long it was not longer heated) he gave us the thumbs up and we are on our way in this overheating car.  A few miles up the road after trying roadside assistance again and again and the rental car company we just stopped and had dinner and let the car cool down again and then thankfully made it to the hotel safely… we will deal with this tomorrow.

The next morning, we got a new car and headed to Punta Cana.

punta cana

Punta Cana – while only a two hour drive from Santo Domingo is a world away in lifestyle. Punta Cana is not even a real place. No seriously… its a whole made up town for rich people to go on vacation.

“Punta Cana is a resort town within the Punta Cana-Bávaro-Veron-Macao municipal district, in the municipality of Higüey, in La Altagracia Province, the easternmost province of the Dominican Republic. The area has beaches and balnearios which face both the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, and it is a tourist destination” wiki

Houses range from $10M to $50M U.S.D and none of the beaches are accessible unless you are staying at a resort or paying to visit the beach. But the beaches… what a beautiful sight. Reminded me so much of Cancun. The whitest sands and the bluest waters with the perfect breeze. I did nothing else in Punta Cana than layout on the beach and it was altogether wonderful.

One night and back to Santo Domingo to catch our flight back home.

 

 

 

 

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