Dominican Republic Chapter 1 - Andy's Travelogues

Dominican Republic Chapter 1

Arrival from the Czech Republic to Punta Cana

Day 1
Canadian, shotguns and piggies

Shh, shh, puffssssss! The dull sound of the plane landing confirmed that the pilot was a seasoned professional and hadn’t forgotten to pull the landing gear. Surviving 12 hours in the bowels of hundreds of tons of steel? Done!

Airport? Hmm… we jump out of the plane onto the runway, inhale our first breath of heated air and stick to the crowd heading for two huge huts whose roofs are custom made from old palm fronds. Hmm… this is what airports in the Caribbean look like. A moment of suspense as we wait to see if the bag has arrived. Yep, one! I managed to travel with only 2 carry-on bags (school backpack and camera) and Petya with one suitcase, which went into the hold. Pants down, shorts up…

… it’s January 12, 2016 and our 2-month adventure can begin!

Dominican Republic Chapter 1 1

“Tourist information, please?”

     “We don’t have…”


   “Straight ahead, then left at the junction and then there… “

…it’s hard to tell what their bad Spanish was trying to say. The Spanish must have been bad, I couldn’t understand them. Everyone in England has bad English too, so we’ll deal with their bad Spanish here too 🙂

In 20 meters we ask again. Another bad Spanish moved us another 30 meters further. Bus stop in sight…

We cross a roundabout, the pavement mysteriously disappears under our feet and only the road is left waving with heat… suddenly a big van with an elderly white man stops. In perfect English, the Canadian asks us where we are going. To my reply, he suspiciously replies that this is exactly where he is headed too. Hmmm…

First rule in the Dominican Republic: never trust anyone who tries to help you for no reason. It’s never for no reason!

A Nordic white guy has been taking advantage of the hot weather and easily accessible natives of the Dominican Republic for many years, so he shares his experiences with us during the half-hour ride.
Don’t trust any Dominican, don’t pay in dollars, don’t let the street convince you to do anything, watch your stuff, don’t show your money in a restaurant, go to the toilet and take your money out there exactly as you spend it, those guards with shotguns don’t have bullets, they won’t protect you, don’t trust any Dominican, don’t pay in dollars, don’t let them convince you…” I’m asking for something positive about the Dominican Republic. “Oh yeah, it’s a beautiful country and you can have as many girls or guys as you want, they’ll do anything for you, but don’t trust any Dominican, don’t pay in dollars…

The second rule in the Dominican Republic: if you’re going to get help, run away before the person in question asks for money.

Half an hour into the drive, an old man sends me to a convenience store to ask if we’re here right. I won’t leave Petya alone with the old man in the car. I nod that we’ve had enough and we both get out. The old man is not to be put off and says to ask the locals and that he will still take us where we need to go. We thank him, say our goodbyes and don’t wait for an answer.

The van has picked up light speed compared to us and sped off into another galaxy. Not that the old man actually hit the gas and sped off into the distance that fast. It’s just us who stayed so static. Compared to his 15 km per hour, we were actually almost going back in time. Or at least we wished we were. Wide-eyed and silent, we headed for the adjacent shop, childishly hoping the dark stares would disappear on their own. We don’t say anything, they can’t tell we’re tourists.

In the shop we change dollars for Dominican pesos and ask where we are. We find out I’m exactly where people usually only send auditors and politicians.

We were far from our accommodation and the instructions of the locals indicated that we would not be able to walk there on our own. “You have to take a guaga [gvagwa]” Which in other words is a bus, or a van masquerading as a bus. The guagua stops are not marked in any way, just as the guaguas are not marked. We observed the street for a while and deduced from the other people standing around where we were supposed to stand. A van arrives. A young man waits at the side door confidently chasing all the standers quickly inside. No time to ask for details. So we at least ask if he will drive us to our destination, he thinks for a moment and then nods in agreement. Paying nothing, we sit in the rattling van, its parts bouncing to the rhythms of Caribbean songs, and wait to see where we’ll go now. Moments later, a young man arrives at our door, collects 30 pesos a head, and assures me in his bad Spanish that he’ll tell us when we’re there. His next question: “When are we leaving“… I ignore, it’s none of his business.

It was only time that showed that in his bad Spanish that followed, he explained that he needed to know when to come get us again. Anyway…

Where the guagua drops us off, there is no sign of our accommodation… in fact, there is no sign of anything. You can see the road to the beach and one fenced-in area with a mini-hot tub. Fortunately, the local guard knows his area well and directs us to a suspicious alley.

With a display of shyness that one only gets good enough to practice on the first day of dancing, we head in.
On the left, a dumpster with pigs enjoying a romantic moment, on the right, a big dirty wall. A suspicious car pulls out of the end of the alley and heads straight for us. We’re trapped, there’s nowhere to hide…