Pastries Birding Eating Dancing

Published: February 16th 2007
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Duff at the Pastry ShopDuff at the Pastry ShopDuff at the Pastry Shop

Ray Duff having a hard time selecting from all the goodies in the pastry shop
We discovered a nice pastry shop just a block west of the Hotel Duque, and that is where the Duffs, Braxtons and Millers headed early the next morning. The café con leche was superb.

Then we loaded ourselves into a mini-van at the hotel and headed to the northwestern part of Santo Domingo (Altos de Galá area) to the Jardín Botanica Nacional. This garden (7.7 sq miles) has a 4-kilometer (2.4 miles) asphalt-paved walking trail. It is well maintained and patrolled by helpful park rangers who are there to assist visitors and to prevent plant theft.

Throughout the park are extremely tall, thin (you can put your hands together around the trunk) guanito (Coccothrinax argentea) palms. Some 300 species of orchids are present.
A small river runs through the park, along which much bird life and butterflies can be observed in the very humid forest.

We did not have a great amount of time to spend in the park, but we planned to come back on Sunday (two days later) on a field trip lead by former PCV Kate Wallace, now a birding guide ( However, it was a grand opportunity to get a first peek at quite
Gray KingbirdGray KingbirdGray Kingbird

Very similar to the kingbirds in the US, the Gray kingbird is an elegant fellow.
a few new birds: Gray kingbird, Nutmeg mannikin, Mango hummingbird and Palm chats (national bird).

Back at the Hotel Meliá we had a sit-down lunch and the 45th Anniversary Luncheon. Lou Medinces (former PCV from Mao - still lives in the Cibao Valley) showed up at our table. In addition, to our great surprise, another former PCV well driller, Jerry LaGra came, all the way from Guyana.

In the evening buses carried us down to Old Santo Domingo. The Braxtons, Duffs, Millers, McMullen and another former PCV, Maryann went to one of the best-tasting Italian restaurants we have ever been to, Ristorante Italiano Pasatiempo. Afterwards we headed back to see the folkloric show. After finishing their dancing, the male and female dancers went out into the audience and grabbed men and women to dance the meringue with. I do not know why, but they always grab me. Is it the virility? The good looks? Anyway, I survived a very long and fast meringue.

Additional photos below
Photos: 11, Displayed: 11


Nutmeg MannikinNutmeg Mannikin
Nutmeg Mannikin

The Nutmeg mannikin (male) with it scalloped breast is as fearless as a sparrow.
Antillean HummingbirdAntillean Hummingbird
Antillean Hummingbird

The Antillean Mango Hummingbird is found from sea level to 2,600 m (8,500 ft) elevation.
Antillean Mango Hummingbird1Antillean Mango Hummingbird1
Antillean Mango Hummingbird1

The Antillean Mango Hummingbird is rather large at 4 1/2 inches (11-12 cm)
Ray -- a large hummingmanRay -- a large hummingman
Ray -- a large hummingman

Ray Duff pretending to be a hummingbird.
Ray  & LoraineRay  & Loraine
Ray & Loraine

Loraine giving Ray a lecture on the local botany and bird life.
Mary the birderMary the birder
Mary the birder

Mary Miller in botanical garden
Palm chatsPalm chats
Palm chats

A group of Palm chats -- the National Bird.
45th Anniversary45th Anniversary
45th Anniversary

45th Anniversary artwork
Old ChurchOld Church
Old Church

Remains of church in Old Santo Domingo

24th February 2007

Great photos
John and Mary, I'm enjoying your photos, as well as the entries. I got to see my old Peace Corps buddies two years ago in Portland, OR where we did our training. You all look like you are having a great time.

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