I woke up fairly early to head down to Santo Domingo this morning. This was my first time visiting the capital.
I caught one of the island's travel buses called the METRO . The DR has a couple of major bus lines (they're like a Greyhound buses) this bus can take you ANYWHERE on the island and is EXTREMELY inexpensive, extremely clean and the A/C was EXTREMLY COLD! A one-way ticket ANYWHERE on the island is just 330 Pesos ($7.38USD) For me to travel roundtrip from Santiago to Santo Domingo was a total of 800 Pesos...you just can't beat it! This is how the Domincanos visist their familias and this is how they simply travel their island. I was the only foreigner on the bus :-/. The ride lasted 2 and 1/2 hours. Their freeways and roads are very well developed like ours so the ride was smooth all the way. I was able to doze off a bit. I only woke up after I realized I had NO BLOOD FLOWING to my legs and toes due to the fact that the A/C had FROZE them. I was advised to bring a jacket because the bus gets cold. I brought my jacket, but I totally didn't think to bring SOCKS or wear pants. My host family also advised me that Santo Domingo is EXTREMELY more HOTTER than here in Santiago and suggested that I should cover up. I'm so glad I brought my jacket, a hat and umbrella. That jacket protected my skin tremendously and I actually wasn't too hot because a breeze was blowing off the ocean, but that SUN WAS KICKING MY BUTT!! It was SO HOT that I ended up with a Heat migraine. I tried to catch it ASAP by taking some migraine pills ,but it was too late it had already set in. I took at least 3 more pills during my visit, still no luck. That still didn't stop me from enjoying myself! I drunk plenty of water.
Now, initially I was going to start my Dominican Republic expat adventures in Santo Domingo. I had originally planned on spending my 1st 2 months in Santo Domingo. BOY AM I GLAD I DIDN'T TAKE THAT ROUTE!!! I truly despise "vacationing" tourist...and Santo Domingo is filled with them which is why I ultimately chose against it at the last moment...when I was going through all of my Passport issues....(you know everything happens for a reason).
Oh yeah, where was I....AAhhh,...Vacationing Tourist...You know the type of people I'm talking about...Hell, some of them are probably reading this blog right now and they don't have a clue how miserable & brain-washed they REALLY are. Just the thought of being around IGNORANT/Close-Minded Americans and other foreigners can rob you of SO MANY joys in life. I no longer have the tolerance for that type of mindset in my presence. There truly is elegance in PURE SIMPLICITY. But this statement alone...they'll never understand.
Here in Santo Domingo, along with the many tourist areas, you'll find many locals willing to take advantage of foreigner and jacking up the prices for "junk". There is a HUGE difference in being "around the locals" and being "around the locals in tourist areas". As soon as I got off the Metro bus, I pulled my cell out to capture a photo of something. I was advised, not to pull the phone out again "while on the street". Now it was cool and okay to pull it out in the tourist areas to take pictures(because cops are everywhere), but just not while you're simply walking around the street being oblivious to whose scoping you out for a opportunity to perform a "grab and run" drive by. Looking like a complete tourist. I ended up taking LOTS of photos and videos. I cautioned myself in the taxis and as we walked to the next tourist spots nearby.
My greatest advantage during this day excursions was that it was provided free of charge by the Spanish school I'm attending. The majority of their excursions are free. I only had to pay for my inexpensive bus ride. Originally, I was suppose to be heading down there with this other family (from America) that attends the school with me, but they cancelled at the last minute due to an illness. So that left me BY MYSELF with the student coordinator\guides...YAAAYY!!! During our excursions we are to only speak in Spanish, but of course from time-to-time, I slip up and\or can't find the words I want to say...so I begin asking my questions in English (big no-no). But they know that this is all a learning experience, nonetheless.
This BY FAR was the best excursion I had ever been on. I didn't have to revolve it around ANYONE but myself and MY time and the conversations we had in Spanish and Span-glish were very enlightening. I learned so much about the city...not JUST THE TYPICAL TOURSIT stuff (areas). Of course I visited the tourist spots, but I blended right in with the locals (in part because I had my school guides with me showing me the ropes. We went of the beaten path. I was shown where their families live, jumped on/off different buses and in/out of different taxis. It was fun! Meeting and chatting with the locals along the way. This adventure was an excellent learning experience through and through!
I think that the foreigners were far and few-in-between because it was a Sunday. I actually didn't see too many foreigners in the touristy areas...There were A LOT of estudiantes de La Universidads and local Dominican families. I guess most foreigner perform their excursions on the weekends and during the week. Any ways, The city was extremely busy, but this was of NO surprise.
I'll be back to Santo Domingo in a couple of months with mi esposo. I'll show him around the city before we head to other parts of the island. I can't wait...for mi esposo to arrive that is :-)