As previously mentioned, government corruption is a well-documented fact in the Dominican Republic. Because of this and rumors of crime and pocket picking, many cruiser pass over the DR and go straight from Turks and Caicos to Puerto Rico. Ocean World solved the first problem with the officials and Paulina may have solved the second problem with the locals. We are very happy to report that we cannot testify to any crime problems in the city of Puerto Plata!
Paulina planned out our day. He met Ted and Greg from Mile High Dream, Francois and Vanessa from Why Knot IV, and Dave and I on the main road, a 10-15 minute walk from the marina. Dylan (Mile High Dream) didn’t join us today, because he tied on a good one last night and needed to sleep it off. Maybe it would have helped him to come though, because Paulina started our day right off with a tour of the Brugal Rum Factory (pictured at the top of the page). Nothing like rum sampling before 10:00 in the morning! The rum was very good. I liked the five-year and fifteen-year amber rums. So we bought those plus some small cheaper white rum for bribes/gifts/trade.
Our next stop was the fruit or fresh market. It was amazing! At least two streets of stall after stall of gorgeous tree/vine ripened fruits and vegetables. The avocados and carrots were massive. We posted a picture of one of the avocados on Facebook when I made guacamole and it was bigger than my hand. The carrots were around 3 inches in diameter!
Everywhere we looked, the produce was equally tempting. It was overwhelming and I had no idea what to select. Then Dave suggested guacamole, so we honed in on those vegetables and some bananas.
And in case you wanted more than just produce, there was poultry and eggs available. Chickens (pollo) and turkeys (pavo) were kept in cages and pens. I’d never seen anything like it. I wanted to buy them all and set them free. Yes, I know. I eat them, too. But I don’t want to see them alive just before I cook them! The market was impressive nonetheless.
As we walked the streets of Puerto Plata, the sights, sounds, and smells awaken the senses for better or worse. Sounds included hundreds of engines revving and horns blowing at a motorcyclist protest over helmet and vest laws, vendors singing out their wares, and children laughing at a school play yard. Smells of vehicle exhaust, foods cooking, citrus scents of the tree leaves, and earthy scents remind us how devoid the sea is of variable odors. When you live on land, you are struck by the smell of the ocean when you visit the beach. Well, when you live on a boat, it is the exact opposite. We don’t notice the smell of the ocean anymore, but can definitely smell the earthy smells when we are near land.
I think the sights are the best of the three… From the palatial buildings on the hillsides to the dilapidated wood and concrete buildings, the colors of the markets, the donkey carts and donkey riders, a dead pig strapped to the back of a scooter, beautifully poised women carrying basket loads on their heads, the backyard fruit trees (mangoes, lemons, oranges, papayas, avocados, and bananas)… I could go on and on. I find myself quickly falling in love with the Dominican Republic. As a place to visit, this is by far my favorite so far. There are just so many interesting things to do and see.
After shopping all morning, we were tired of carrying things around. Paulina said the people at the cigar factory would hold them for us, so we returned “tomorrow” after all. No one was interested in the cigars, though their stash of prepared cigars ready for packaging was impressive. But Dave went back to haggling with the guy for the Mama Juana wine. Yesterday, I was flabbergasted to hear he wanted $65 for a bottle with cured herbs in it. It didn’t even come filled! He said, “No, no, I’ll fill it for you, so it is just like this one.” And he showed me a prepared bottle. So today we started at $45 and Dave eventually got him down to $30 per bottle. Still seemed high, but we agreed and even bought two. Why? Because Dave loves me. They would put them with our other things and we can collect them all this afternoon.
Next Paulina took us to a restaurant that was made entirely (other than structural) of palm fronds. The sides were the stalk part and the roof the leafy part. Really cool looking. I ordered arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) and Dave had grilled pollo ajillo (garlic chicken). It was good, but so far I am not impressed with the cultural foods from the different countries we’ve been to. There isn’t much difference from American food. DR more than the others, but still not very foreign – maybe because I grew up close to Mexico and am accustomed to Mexican food?
The Amber Museum seems to be a point of pride for the Dominican Republic. The insects in the amber were used for the Jurassic Park movie. I am not entirely sure of the whole connection, but they were granted use of the Jurassic Park logo. There were some awesome samples such as small lizards, lizard eggs, tarantula, and a scorpion. Not sure it’s a must see for most people, but I am into that kind of thing.
We finished off the day with a trip up the cable car to the top of the mountain. There was a spectacular view of all of Puerto Plata below, the azure ocean, and the lush greenery of the countryside.
Some guy directed me to pose in all kinds of ridiculous poses to make me look like I was holding hands with Jesus. But I liked the group photo with Jesus hovering over us. Supposedly, since this statue (a copy of the famous Brazilian statue) was erected, DR has not been hit by a hurricane from the north. Jesus is facing north. There is a hand print below Jesus commanding all evil to stop while only allowing friendly visits. I am sure we lost some of this story in translation, but that was my understanding.
We returned to pick up our packages and found that the Mama Juana wine was not filled, but only had the cured herbs. Ugh! Oh well, now we need to buy some honey and sangria wine, as we have the rum. It was an action packed day, but instead of feeling tired we were left hungry for more. We agreed to meet Paulina again tomorrow to see some more incredible sights.