#5 Dominican Republic 2010
What does a declining infrastructure and high food prices have in common?
It has been obvious to me that some things in the DR are worse than they were when I first visited her in 1986. For one, food prices are much higher. This is not much of a problem for tourists, but it is a real difficulty for the locals. Electricity is intermittent, as is water.
When they tried to charge me $7 for a watermelon, I refused. It was higher than in the US. And here in the DR, they grew the melons just down the road. I figured I was getting the white tax. But then I saw locals pay that much for a melon. What was up?
Well, I wanted a COLD watermelon. But with the now erratic electricity, what must every store have?
A generator. These are very expensive in the DR, and the price of diesel fuel is double what it is in the US. Without electricity, the stores will fail. So, priced into the food is the generator.
#4 from the Dominican Republic
Isabella, Dominican Republic
This is where Columbus landed. It looks peaceful enough, right?
Myself standing in Columbus' home. Ground zero for the genocide.
Altar to the genocide
Columbus’ second voyage to the new world was truly the significant one. For on this voyage he brought 17 ships, 1500 men, horses, sheep, cows, and all the things necessary for a permanent colonies. So perhaps we should mark November 28th, 1493 as the true Columbus day. The beginning of the conquest.
Columbus returned to find all 40 men he had left at Navidad from the first voyage to be dead. When they had not been fighting internally, they had raided the Indians and suffered reprisals. This set the pattern.
From Santiago, Dominican Republic
Check this menu out!
The food here, for the most part, is not special. The meats are good and the fruit is fresh and abundant. But there is no particular Dominican cuisine. A standard meal for people here is a very large pile of white rice with a bit of sauce on top, some tostones (deep-fried banana patties) and a bit of chicken or pork. You will not be getting any vegetables or salad unless you ask for it. And dont count on that either. I find the boiled cassava root to be a good equivalent for potatoes. It is locally grown and highly productive plant. I see cassava plantations all over the country. It is the third highest source of calories for humans, after rice and corn. 800 million people depend upon it as their first source of food. It is very hardy and drought resistant. I had to learn to pull the fibers out of the fleshy root as I ate it. But it is a nutritious basic food crop.
Call it yucca or cassava or manioc -- it's the #3 food crop in the world
The Haitians appear to be doing most of the field work, like growing yucca here.
Fresh orange juice with ice, several times a day, on the street
My daily juice bar
I have just completed 5 days of riding leisurely from the Samana Peninsula to Santiago. From Nagua I rode inland and immediately found myself pleasantly isolated. No structures or people for many miles. Just swamps and rice fields. I had a 25 mph tail wind and I got blown along like I was flying. This doesnt happen often. I stopped at just about every village to get freshly pressed orange juice with ice. I had to specifically state early on that I did NOT want sugar added to it. If I didnt, they would pour sugar in for me. They would even try to convince me that I should take sugar with my orange/coconut/coffee and even grimace when they saw me drinking things without sugar. The only other place where I have seen such a sugar addiction is Cuba.
Look at the name of this armed, gated community. One could sound it out as 'Pricks-are-in'
I rode my bicycle past this armed, gated community. Look at its name, then sound it out. At least they admit it.
October 2nd, 2010
As I carried bicycle into the Hotel Nuestra Casa de Amor (Our Home of Love) a bird began shreiking full volume.
I stopped at the top of the stairs. One of the three daughters of the family was holding a full-sized raven on her arm, and it was sounding off full blast.
The raven may have kissed her...
Estoy bien I answered. Me llamo Jaime I told the raven.
I put my bike down and watched Anita kiss the raven. Then she slowly petted it. I reached out to touch it. It quickly turned at my hand, flashing its red eyes and bit me hard.
OWWWWWW I said in English.
Si, Anita said. Danny bites.
...but he turned and bit me hard!
I see he does.
I looked around on the upstairs roof and I saw cages and cages of tropical birds. Anita explained that she and her two sisters rescued birds and kept them in cages. They also had homing pigeons that returned from wherever they were released in the Dominican Republic. The parents and the three sisters all lived downstairs. The hotel part was upstairs, very separated from the residence below. It consisted of four rooms in a row. Anita told me that one of the rooms was already rented to a newly wed couple who were both working in town. I took a center room which happened to adjoin their room.
October 2nd, 2010
Las Terrennas, Dominican Republic
riding along 150+ kms of beaches
I am cycling the north shore and the mountains of the Dominican Republic on a 3 week trip. This time I did not take my bicycle with me. I have had too much hassle from the airlines with extra fees, broken and missing parts, and completely stolen bicycles from airports to want to deal with it again. I decided to either buy one there, or much better yet, rent one.
I packed ALL my bicycle necessities into one large backpack. It consisted of two panniers, a rear rack, my bike tools, seat, helmet, three changes of clothes, a laptop, and my minimal personal effects. 35 pounds worth. Not bad.
But finding a bicycle in Puerta Plata was difficult. First I landed the day before a national Catholic holiday. So everything would be closed. One has to wonder how there can be any respect left for the Catholic Church here after what the original Catholics did. Just read Bartolome de las Casas accounts of the genocide that wiped out virtually every last Taino Indian within the first 30 years of the conquest. The estimates run to 250,000 or more tortured and murdered. You must ask your how could the remaining Dominicans still believe in such a murderous church. But perhaps it was just Darwinism. The only ones they did not torture and kill were the few remaining believers.