A lesson in history and culture


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From our insel Air window, SDQ looked green, flat and sparsely populated. Rusty zink sheets covered the roofs of the homes in the shanty town which lie along the flight path. The approach was turbulent but the landing was good and the passengers broke into applause. It was 2.16 pm. Bienveniedos a SDQ.

We spent the night before at Tante Ligia who graciously offered us to share her house since we had neither furniture nor house. We slept fitfully at 2 am, woke at 6.15, left some baghs and instructions for Panic (who is camping at a pet resort until our return) with Eve and got to the airport on time. To see us off were Rose, her son Shaquille, Gera, Eve (all good friends) and Shanna´s oma (grandmother). The flight took us thru St. Maarten and then on to SDQ, an impressive airport and a loooooong wait for our luggage.

A word of advice: never change money in an airport. The exchange rate sucks. Oh, and another word: pay attention in spanish class . The taxi from the airport to the hotel should have cost USD 25. We ended up paying Felix, the taxi man, USD 35 because
Two 4 de raodTwo 4 de raodTwo 4 de raod

Everything for 8 months
we couldn´t argue effectively in spanish and a tout demanded a dollar for pointing out the very visible taxi stand. Exiting the airport almost feels Puerto Rico'ish with fast traffic, elections billboards and green directional signs. We were headed for the Zona Colonial and Hotel Independencia: Lonely Planets top pick for budget accommodations.

Crossing the river Ozama (with a "z") brought us alongside the towering 16th century walls of the Zona Colonial. Felix kept driving right past the nicest looking structures and on into the seedy cluttered section and it was there, at the noisy junction Arzobispo and Estrelleta, that we found our "home" Hotel Independencia. The minus five'star residence is best described by its characteristics: shady entrance, compartmental rooms (the window of one bedroom looks out into another) and a place where water is switched off in the wee hours of the morning to save cost ... but given the fact that we were justifiably pooped the clean sheets, clean restroom, noisy standing fan and safe environment was a perfect place to rest.

Then we headed out into the sweltering heat and chaos of SDQ. We had brought four bags: two backpacks and two big bags full of clothes and shoes to give away. Parroquia Pio X, a Catholic church and school, was across the road and Padre Rene was only too happy to accept our "donacion" and wish us God´s blessings. The malecon was a bustling, traffic jameed street on the water and it was there that we visited a travel agent. BAD NEWS folks, it costs too much to fly to Cuba but being the optimists we are, we´ve decided to use the entire two weeks to explore SDQ and its environs and maybe bus over to Haiti.

We spent to rest of the afternoon wandering the streets and orienting ourselves, changing money, getting directions and buying toiletries. Eventually, we did end up walking in the awesome Zona Colonial. The fading light did not allow for spectacular photography but check back soon, we´ll update this blog with more pictures.




Additional photos below
Photos: 15, Displayed: 15


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CambioCambio
Cambio

Changing USD to Pesos 31 to 1
InsuranceInsurance
Insurance

It follows us
Need insuranceNeed insurance
Need insurance

An uninsurable risk
Correct ParkingCorrect Parking
Correct Parking

Not an unusual site in SDQ
Shopping for essentialsShopping for essentials
Shopping for essentials

Toilet paper, tooth brush and toothpaste and bread: USD 3.00
Zona ColonialZona Colonial
Zona Colonial

Tour of the Zona Colonial.
Columbus ParkColumbus Park
Columbus Park

Touring the Zona Colonial
Eternal Flame in Jesuit ChurchEternal Flame in Jesuit Church
Eternal Flame in Jesuit Church

Touring the Zona Colonial
Cathedral FrontCathedral Front
Cathedral Front

Touring the Zona Colonial
First Cathedral in AmericasFirst Cathedral in Americas
First Cathedral in Americas

Tour of the Zona Colonial
Governor´s HouseGovernor´s House
Governor´s House

Tour of the Zona Colonial
Life and Death MotifLife and Death Motif
Life and Death Motif

Tour of the Zona Colonial. In Jesuit Church


18th May 2007

U Go Vibes
Way to go Vibes. Its good to see that you are living your dreams. Have fun and hope to see you at the end of it all. And best fo luck to you and your friend.
18th May 2007

Enjoy! Go and follow the dreams!!! I will follow your stories from here in Vinkeveen
18th May 2007

Trip without babies is a useless trip
Please be advised that my only concern as your brother is that in these romantic places, with pictureques seneries where might be no adddition to the worlds population. Please rememer that seeds are only in the right conditions, and your your condiions are right. So dont hesitate, procreate
19th May 2007

have fun
Enjoy your trip and experience other culture, but do not forget Curacao
19th May 2007

Pics
The eternal flam in the Jesiut cathedral looks like a picture fom the Da Vinci Code. And doesn't parking of the donkey in the middle of the road remind you of GT?
19th May 2007

GREETS!
Hey Shanna / Vibert, konta? I am glad to hear and see that you guys are doing ok. Looks like lots of fun! Keep us posted with more pics and adventurous stories. Tracking every step of the way with you...G
19th May 2007

WT
Hi World Travelers, Nice to see how you are enjoying you'll world tour. Looking forward to see more pics. Enjoy Robert
20th May 2007

On your way!
Well, you are on your way, sorry about Cuba. The pictures are good.
20th May 2007

whazzzup
Hi chicos, enjoying SD? some nice places to visit are Jarabacoa, constansa, semana, sosua, barahona, las tresmarias, azua, monte plata. I can see you're having fun! nice! keep well, and we'll stay in touch. besos y abrazos, Mariselle
20th May 2007

Up and Running
And so, after detailed planning and a long countdown, your roadshow is up and running. Congratulations! We wish you both( Broad and Broader) every success and we will closely follow your progress here. Its does appear that you have had the perfect start and the pictures are cool (including that donkey-kart). All the best and remember to pay attention to your spanish classes in the future. Hasta la vista mi amigos!
21st May 2007

Ah Sweet Nostalgia!
I could go on and on about places you must see. But 2hrs away by bus is the Altos de Chavon (in La Romana). Check it out if you get a chance.
21st May 2007

I'm so excited
Somehow, i didn't here about Dominica on this route. Oh yeah, You've done that wonderful experience already. Well vibes, enjoy this for both of us, and offcourse you Shanna, if you haven't visited Dominca tell vibes he needs to bring you there. stay sweet vibes and i will b praying and checking up on you everyday. I'll be doing this myself oneday cause that's a hot idea. take my word for it.
21st May 2007

Hello
hello guys? how're you? i see, having fun. hahhahhaaaaaa. that's cool. keep it so, have fun on your journey and all the best, bye love you all rose
21st May 2007

thats adventure...
Vibert you neva seem to amaze me with the trips you take, glad you have someone to join you.One day i will be able to go on some of your adventures but fuh now let me know how urs go.So far i'm enjoying it be careful and enjoy yuhself.Trips like these good uh the heart don't u think...lol
25th May 2007

Enjoy to the fullest
Hey guys, I know that you will enjoy this experience to the fullest. All the best and continue keeping us up to date. I am definitely enjoying this experience vicariously through you. Enjoy and be safe. Don't be tooooooo adventurous. Keep in touch. Luv always.

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