Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Day 14 - Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

The carnival was fun. It was basically a great big street party with live Merengue music (the national music of Hispainola – it appears to be named after the dessert but nobody knows why) and lots of enthusiastic dancing. Not quite having the Caribbean rhythm myself I was more of an enthusiastic bystander; but it's hard not to get into the spirit of things... One thing that seemed more noticeable last night was the number of oldish white men with young Dominican girls; prostitution is legal on this island, and it is clearly rife in the northern resorts; this area is very seedy in places.

I woke up a little late this morning (thanks in no small part to the carnival) and got my kit together for the five hour journey back to Santo Domingo. With rucksack and my trusty knapsack (in which I keep anything I can't afford to lose) packed I set off for the bus station. Actually, perhaps I should be careful carrying the old knapsack around Hispaniola: “uncle knapsack” is a traditional Haitian character used to scare children – he comes in the night and takes away naughty girls and boys in his eponymous bag. You may recognise his creole name - “Tonton Macoute” - it was appropriated by the militia of Papa Doc Duvalier during his dictatorship a group that were much feared by young and old alike across the country.

Anyway, to the unmistakeable strains of Charles & Eddie, the bus set on its way across country, and by the time I arrived at Santo Domingo it was already 4pm – only a couple of hours before sundown. There was a little cloud cover, so I decided to walk to the hotel – I'm more or less used to the heat now, especially when the sun is not glaring. I dumped my bags and headed for the town, but it was to no avail. The cloud cover had transformed into an unheavenly downpour – there was no way I was going to do much sightseeing this afternoon. And, with the exception of a half-hour gap before darkness in which I could take a couple of snaps of the unusually choppy Caribbean Sea, the day was done: somewhat lost. I don't think the above picture shows what the weather was like; you can just about make out the lighthouse straining through the gloom in the background, but believe me – it was grim.

Tomorrow I fly to Miami, but not until mid-afternoon, so fingers crossed I can get to some of Santo Domingo's museums – they're all fairly close to my hotel – it's my last chance to learn about the Island until I head to pastures new.


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