|…as least we had a car…
We rented a car for the six of us using Oliver at the marina excursion office and we received a mini van with a seriously cracked windshield and bald tires with a boom box and several amps. It also had a commercial taxi sign on the side door, so we could have offered rides as well. We are not sure where they got the car but no one asked questions. The rate was $90 US for the three couples to drive south to Santo Domingo to the colonial section of town. Meloney drove and did an unbelievable job weaving in and out of city traffic avoiding motorcylces, horses, broken down cars and trucks. We only were pulled over once for making a left turn like a pro at a 4 lane interesection where no lefts were allowed. She got out of the traffic ticket by showing Google Maps on the cell phone which had told her to make the turn. None of us could understand Spanish, he spoke no English, and so he shook his head and let us go with a stern look and a clear gesture to keep our eyes on the signs.
|Fuel stop, look at the prices
Our first task leaving Samana was filling up the car which arrived on fumes. We stopped at the closet station 10 km away and we filled it up. That cost us $60 US and we ended up leaving about $20 of gas in the car at the end of the day. With wages averaging $10 per day here, this was a real win for the owner of this car. Notice the sign for the gas station prices. RD 210 per liter. The exchange rate is $1 to RD47. That works out to $4.46 per liter. One US gallon is 3.75 liters. So That means this is $4.46 x 3.75 equals $16.75 per US gallon! No wonder everyone is running around on small Honda Z3000 motorcycles. They must get 50-75 miles per gallon.
Once in the city, we stopped at a super market to secure funds from a Western Union where buddy boat Sea Star needed some serious cash to fix their bent prop and prop shaft damaged while we all crossed the Caicos Banks. They hit a coral head in the low angle morning light where none of us could see the massive coral heads as we powered at 6 knots into the sunrise. The Caicos banks are dangerous due to these large coral heads. You can not see them until it is nearly too late. Unfortunately, Sea Star caught one prop on the edge of coral and took damages. Lucky for them, here in the Dominican Republic, they hired divers to replace the shaft and prop while in the water! WOW, amazing workers like this are needed, since we have heard there are no haulouts anywhere in the DR.
After a quick stop at the very large store, we moved on to the colonial section of town. Here are some photos of the Carrefoure Store. It was a food store and a Walmart type store.
|20 eggs shrink wrapped, unwashed and unrefrigerated. They will stay fresh for weeks.
Driving into the colonial section of Santo Domingo, we enjoyed seeing the street vendors’ carts of coconut water drinks and fruit stands. The DR people are so hard working and everyone has a shop, a cart, a stand, or some crafts to sell. It is really a bustling city and it was very exciting. Especially when compared to the Bahamas or Exumas.
|Coconut water drink cart
|Typical fruit stand
We parked the car and walked into the colonial district where we bought a very valuable English audio tour of the Cathedral Primada de America Catholic Church, the first cathedral in the new world. Construction began with the consecration of the land in 1514. Over the next 200+ years, they continued to add twelve small chapels onto the sides of the main sanctuary. The church is in amazing shape and was very impressive.
After a full day in town, it was time to hit the road and drive the 3+ hours back to Samana where we arrived around 2030 hrs. What a fun day of touring the countryside of the Dominican Republic and the city of Santo Domingo. This country has so much to offer and it seems like the people are very hard working and proud of their country, as well as very friendly. The DR is a must stop place on the sailing cruising tour.