Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Monday 22nd January

Dominican Republic

19 54.4 N
70 56.5 W


We set out at 07.30hrs, dinking into the marina where we met up with Jim and Harvey, 2 guys from boats in the harbour, the 4 of us were hiring a driver for the day and going to Santiago for the price of $36. The driver was a Dominican who spoke no English and none of us speak understandable Spanish so it was going to be an interesting day on all accounts. I guess the first thing to reassure us was that the driver was actually on time with his car – a very beat up camry sport. It was the sort of car that you wouldn’t let your teenage child get into under any circumstances but being invincible adults we all piled into it and began the 50 mile (or there about) trip. The second reassuring thing was that Jim had a map of sorts with all the shops marked on it. The roads quite surprised us, they were a lot better than the ones we traveled on in Guinea – at least they were paved here. The traffic was spasmodic to begin with but became heavier and more regular as we got nearer to the city. Most of the traffic consisted of worn out cars and trucks, hundreds of motorcycles of every description, horses being ridden bareback and donkeys – what a mixture! The drivers of the motorized vehicles seem to have a great fondness for using the horn – they constantly toot for every reason imaginable, it’s quite scary to be next to a horse when someone toots the horn, the rider doesn’t always have control!. The road rules, if there are in fact any, seem not to be important for example the double yellow lines in the center of the road appear to be there for decoration only as all drivers cross them when ever they feel the need. I have to say though that they do see to stop at traffic lights – this became apparent when we got to the city where there were traffic lights. The 4 way stop thing would never work here – junctions which have no lights are just a free for all – it’s a case of close your eyes, put your foot on the accelerator and hope for the best. The scenery on the way was lovely, very mountainous, very lush vegetation, the occasional small village – all of which appeared to be quite impoverished. There were crops growing, we assumed that they were proper farms but they didn’t seem to be as well organised or regimented as those we are used to, we saw bananas, tobacco and sugar cane. The climate is very similar to that in North Queensland, hence the same sort of crops. The trip into Santiago took us an hour and a half to our first stop which was the bank – we all needed some pesos to spend, as the bank wasn’t open yet everyone used the ATM – don’t leave home without your cards! Once the money was sorted out the boys began working their way down the lists that they had – things which we had to get, mostly bits for the boats. We scored first finding a cogged drive belt for the gen set alternator, we had to get one as we had used our spare when we took the gen set apart in Provo. It proved to be quite expensive, about $60 but at least we got one. Harvey needed some seals for his water pump and we spent a fair amount of time chasing from one shop to another hunting them down, eventually we were successful with that too. Our next stop was a hardware store called Ochoa, it was similar to Home depot and as well stocked, Gerry purchased 2 new buckets to replace the one that we lost and the one that got destroyed by the chain in the anchor locker. Then it was on to the computer store for discs, an easy task but whilst we were there Jim had the buy of the day, he bought a mini tower with keyboard but no screen for $363.00 (Yes Bob exactly the same as your OBC). We loaded that into the car and then headed to Price Smart, the equivalent of Sam’s club, to do some grocery shopping. Jim had borrowed a membership card from a lady at the marina so I had to be "Nancy" for the shopping trip. We had pizza in the cafeteria there and then loaded a cart with the essentials that we needed. Ours didn’t amount to very much but we did get the all important chocolate cake to keep the chocoholic happy. Once we had done the wholesale shopping stuff we headed to a large department store which had a grocery floor, a house wears floor, a food court and ice cream parlour and across the road from it was a radio shack. We split up and walked around the store buying just a couple of things we needed then had ice cream prior to setting off back to Luperon. The traffic was heavier on the return trip and there were a couple of times when it was best not to be looking as we overtook or went around a corner, I have to say that we didn’t see a single fender bender but I really can’t understand why we didn’t. Our driver managed to get us back to the marina by 16.00hrs, all in one piece with our shopping. It was a great day out and it would have been a good place to re provision but we really didn’t need very much as we have kept our stores pretty constant as we have gone along. Back on our boat we put away our purchases, read for a while and then took our dink into the marina for a couple of drinks and a quick dinner. As we were both quite tired from the knuckle clenching trip we decided to make it an early night.



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