Thursday, 19 November 2009

Day 9 - Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

I'm such a moan-y flyer. Not actual moaning, you understand, just silent tutting and rolling of eyes. Surely I can't be the only one who doesn't lean his chair fully back, unless entirely necessary, in consideration for the guy behind me? Well I was at least glad that he appreciated it, it meant he could practise playing the drums on my head-rest for most of the journey. The snoring guy to my left and the sweaty bloke to my right must've also appreciated the fact that I allowed them to use the armrests (and much of my seat-area) as well. I exaggerate of course, can't really complain when you're travelling from Madrid to Dominican Republic on a round-the-world trip; but still....

Today wasn't all travelling; I had the morning in Madrid, which I spent walking the streets, taking in the sights of the Spanish capital for the last time, also managed to nip into the Prado for an hour or so for a little culture though I fear that my constant clock watching may have lessened my enjoyment of the Goyae and Velazquezezez on show.

The flight was 8 hours, and at around 7pm local time I arrived in Santo Domingo airport. Wow. Baggage collection and passport control were as you'd expect (got a new stamp on my passport! Yay!) but as soon as I got through customs, it was like the arrivals lounge was expecting some kind of pop star - hundreds and hundreds of people lining the passage to the exit, many of them kids. I was once lucky enough to go to an awards ceremony thanks to QI and on my way out it was *flash flash flash* a load of photographers took my picture, obviously hoping I was some Z-list celebrity. I don't know who the people in the airport were waiting for, but when I walked out, I can only imagine that they were just as disappointed as those paparazzi were when they checked their films the next morning. I hope the airport kids got their pop star - maybe it was the drummer sat behind me.

Anyway, most airports have some kind of bus or train to the city centre. Not Santo Domingo. Not as far as I could see, anyway. So I walked to the taxi rank and was accosted by a number of drivers. One driver outmuscled the others, he was clearly next in line, and he told me "forty US dollars" - hmm, a bit steep I thought, but looking around I surveyed my options. There was no plan B. Ah well - I was not really in much of a position to haggle - only time will tell if I've been ripped off, I thought.

Driving to Santo Domingo was something else. Imagine the speeds of the M6 Toll Road alongside the courtesy of central Rome; we fairly flew the considerable distance to the hostel, only stopping once, when a guy with a machine gun made it clear that we should. Turns out we were passing a military base, and they wanted to stop the traffic to allow a couple of vehicles out. Nice.

So I got to the hostel. Wish so much that I'd taken some shots of the welcome party at the airport, or of the guy with the gun, but I was a bit overwhelmed to be honest. You'll have to make do with what I ended up with. A nice 'Presidente' Cerveza, Domincan Republic's finest.


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