Days 6 – 11
When we planned the course of our trip, I didn’t know if we would be bored to death in Las Terrenas, a small village, in 3 days. On the other hand, with Santa Domingo, I was sure that as the capital, it would have something to offer, even for a week. Beaches, a huge monument to Christopher Columbus, a historic centre, restaurants, walks… And was it? You know those scenes from prison movies where the prisoner scratches the wall with a spoon to see how many more days he has behind bars…
After several hours of travel in a mobile freezer, I look at the map on my phone with a shaking hand, the GPS says we are close. As soon as the bus stops, we get off. By the way, long-distance buses in the Dominican Republic are pretty decent, comparable to the European standard. Note: I don’t count the Karosa among the European standard. We jump out of the bus door. The driver’s assistant, Arthur (all buses, even small vans, have an assistant driver and this one was definitely named Arthur) stops us urgently and insistently.
“Where are you going?!”
“Downtown, we’ll get there”
“You won’t get there, get on!”
2 days later…
“Hello! Where did you get here from?”
“Hi, from downtown…”
“You came on foot from downtown?!”
“Oh yeah, it was only an hour walk… We came to see the Christopher Columbus Memorial”
“The memorial is closed today, I’ll get you a cab and you can go back downtown! Just a minute!”
The policeman disappears for 5 minutes, meanwhile his colleague comes in and chats (babysits) with us about our stay in Santo Domingo. After 5 minutes, a taxi arrives, our policeman gets out of it.
“We don’t want a taxi, we’ll walk back, we’re not lazy”
“You’re not going to make it, get in!”
Would this policeman also be called Arthur? We immediately question the taxi driver to see if he also thinks it’s that dangerous here. He responds unperturbed that on foot we would have about a 50:50 chance of getting back safely.
A day later…
We exit the botanical gardens and ask security how we’re going to get to the zoo. 3-4 km sounds like a nice walk and at least we get to see some of the city. The security guard and his colleague insist that we take a taxi. We insist on walking and leave.
About an hour later…
“Hello, please are those taxis over there okay, we can use them, we need to get downtown. They look a bit scary.”
“Definitely not! Go around this zoo, ask security at the entrance, they’ll call you a cab. You came here on foot?!?!”
Three days early…
We get off the bus. Petya needs to go to the toilet so badly that he doesn’t notice the cold sweat pouring down my back. The walking speed Petya chooses to find the toilet suits me perfectly, but for completely different reasons. Apparently fate wanted her first impression of Santo Domingo to be different from mine. And we’re already past Las Terrenas. Now that we’ve survived that, nothing will surprise us… Wrong. What surrounded us in the capital as soon as we arrived is beyond words. So I won’t describe it.
From the toilets onwards, the city was less aggressive in its environment, good for Petya. I knew where our hostel was. To make our welcome a little more humorous, Santo Domingo cut a scene like a black and white silent comedy. When we asked a local Dominican where to find our street. He pointed in one direction, but asked another passing gentleman. He pointed in the exact opposite direction.
Breath! … Exhale! … I’m creating!
We chose one of the directions and after 10 steps we found ourselves standing in front of a hostel. Santo Domingo is having a good day and we’ve barely started.