Today we walked all over our corner of Santo Domingo. It was Sunday, and it was a long weekend so we practically had the entire city to ourselves. I woke up at 11:30 in the morning and, after pulling my earplugs out (how else to sleep in?), we started the day by doing laundry in our hotel sink. After hanging the clothes to dry we walked the 4 or 5 blocks to see the ocean.
The Malecon is the name of the road in any Domincan city which travels along the ocean. Here in Santo Domingo it is pretty well a 6 lane freeway separating people from the water....with no stoplights in sight.....so we dashed across as fast as we could.
There is not really a beach in our area, and the waves crash against what looks like volcanic rock. It is nice, but the 'freeway' just behind us with tons of traffic ruins it.
We understand that there are very nice beaches just a few miles west of where we were, but we didn't go there to check it out.
So today we just walked and walked around town; for miles and miles, and hours and hours. We went through mostly high-end residential condo neighborhoods and government buildings. It was Sunday, but I am sure no one else was out walking but us.
After about 4 hours of this we remembered that we should probably eat breakfast (it is like 5PM now) and so we stopped for chicken and fritos at one of the many Chinese fried chicken restaurants. In fact where we ate, there were 3 of these restaurants all in a row.
Now we are starting to realize that we have been eating Dominican food all along on our trip......fried chicken, pizzas, sandwhiches, and fritos and french fries. Of course there is more then these things only, but these are definitely solid parts of the Dominican food culture.
At this point I had enough walking so we hopped on a gua-gua to take an impromptu tour of the city. These are great little buses that drive a set route around town. You just wave one down when you see it (and they come by very often) and hop on. Sometimes it can be crowded, but there is always a seat and they are inexpensive to ride; about 15-20 pesos to go a couple of miles. When you want off, you just yell at the 'conductor' and he bangs on the side of the bus or mini-van to let the driver know to stop. It's fun and the best way to get around.
Our first conductor (in the photo with the glasses) was so funny...and he yelled at all the girls to hop on his bus....and when we got off and paid with a $50 peso note and waited he turned around and said to the driver "these $@#@ Americanos want some !@#ing change". We winked at him, told him we were Canadian, and let him keep the whole thing and he smiled so much. The only way to travel is by gua-gua....
On the way back we stopped at the Pan Villar Pandecera, which is a pretty good bakery with a restaurant and take-out deli. This is middle-class Domincan territory and the food is pretty good. We loaded up on food for the hotel (I really like rice pudding) and came back here the next day for lunch.
We went back to the hotel to check on our clothes that we had hung up in the our hotel courtyard. That night it was really busy out, Duarte park was really hopping, and we just chilled out with some beers in the park and made it an early night.... This is not a photo of the park, but it is our "courtyard" at the Hostal Mundial.