Tag Archives: Santo Domingo

Back to Santo Domingo

Mar 1 – We survived Dominican Independence Day on 2/27, and we survived Saturday night in Río San Juan last night. The two celebrations sounded about the same, with every car and motorbike cranking up their sound systems to the max, on the supposition that everybody has the same favorite song. It felt like little Zumba classes on every corner. Mercifully, all the noise stopped at 10pm, and you could hear the sound of the ocean again.

This morning we awoke to a gray, rainy day, so we didn’t mind bidding adieu to Río San Juan. We boarded a big air conditioned Caribe Tours bus at 9am, and it took us directly back to Santo Domingo. We returned to Hotel Casa Aluge for one night.

So, one more stroll down the shopping street.

One more Quinceañera celebration. This beauty was fussing with her dress, but gave me a big smile when she saw my camera.

What else can I show you? Did you know that cigars are made here?

We haggled for souvenirs – a plate for our wall, a magnet for our fridge. One more shot of Mama Juana for the road.

We thought we’d get away without concern about the corona virus, but today the first case was reported from a tourist to the D.R., and the government has begun turning away cruise ships. The checkout clerks in the supermarket have donned masks. A good time to go home.

We had a lovely time.

More from Santo Domingo

Feb 14 – For those who wish to see this city, know that the Zona Coloniál is very compact and easy to navigate. We understand that most tourists spend one day here, on their way to or from the beach, but our guidebook has a walking tour that will take us to every interesting thing, so that’s what we are doing.

There is a pedestrian-only central street with lots of shops and restaurants.

There are lots of churches, but many are closed. Here’s Nuestra Señora del Carmen, with a historical facade and a beautiful black wood altar.

This is the Iglesia Regina Angelorum. I liked the painted fresco behind this statue.

The first ever fort built in the new world (1502), Fortaleza Ozama, contains some of the timber from Columbus’ ship the Santa Maria. It overlooks the Rio Ozama, and for a while it was actually the tallest structure in the Americas.

The Pantheon of the Fatherland is a former church that serves as a mausoleum for important military figures in Dominican history. I was happy to see a number of females included among the busts of important people. The big three heroes, Duarte, Mella and Sanchez, have full sized statues in front of their crypt.

The Museo de Casas Reales had an interesting display of an early pharmacy, including a still used to make potions and a cabinet used to store medicinal herbs. As many could not read, the cabinet was painted with a picture of what each herb looked like and the tree or shrub on which it could be found.

The Museo Alcazar de Colón was the residence of Christopher Columbus’ son Diego, who was the Viceroy of Hispaniola, and his wife Maria de Toledo. It contained artifacts from Columbus’ family. His office displays a modern painting of Christopher and Diego. The deteriorating statue depicts Maria de Toledo, who ruled Hispaniola whenever her husband was out seafaring and exploring. She was said to have been compassionate to the indigenous people.

Feb 16 – today was the municipal elections, which were canceled midday due to problems with the electronic voting machines. Sound familiar?

Tomorrow we will bid adios to the city of Christopher Columbus’ brother, and head north to the beach!

Santo Domingo

Feb 12 – After a leisurely American breakfast (omelette, toast, juice and coffee, as opposed to the local preference for coffee and pastry) we packed our bag and walked a block to the local bus stop, where we boarded a very nice air conditioned bus that shuttled us to the bus terminal for free. From there, we hopped on a bigger very nice air conditioned bus for the 90 minute ride to Santo Domingo, for $1.50 per ticket.

We are staying in the old part of the city, called the Zona Coloniál, which was originally founded by Christopher Columbus’ brother Bartolomeo, after the first two colonies attempted on Hispaniola failed. Santo Domingo was named after St. Dominic, who founded the Dominican monastic order and invented the rosary (bet you didn’t know that!)

Our little hotel is a five minute walk from the center of town, the Parque Colón. Here there is a statue of Christopher himself, his outstretched arm serving as an invitation to the pigeons.

The park had a festive air, with musicians simultaneously playing Spanish guitar and Sousa marches.

An artist at work.

There were several strange creatures roaming the park. The one giving away red balloons had to do with next week’s political election, and the gorillas had something to do with Carneval, but no one could tell us exactly what. Carneval is celebrated for the whole month of February here.

I admired the entrepreneurial spirit of this group, who stood beside the upscale cafés, drumming up a horrible racket until someone paid them to go away.

Right next to the park stands the Catedral de Santa Maria la Menor, the oldest cathedral in the Americas.

A small sandstone interior, with a mix of classic and modern artwork.

Sir Francis Drake and his English forces swept through Santo Domingo and took everything worth taking in 1586. This church is definitely lacking the gold embellishments so prevalent in other cathedrals. It is interesting to view history from different perspectives – the English knighted Drake, but the Spanish considered him a pirate.

My favorite display in one of the side chapels was a surreal looking nativity scene that looked like it might have been made of Legos. No baby Jesus, though.

We stopped in to see the Larimar museum, which was mainly a gift shop. Larimar is a pretty blue or green pectolite stone that is only found on this island. Buy some today, before it’s all gone!

Then we went into the Museo Casa de Tostado, Museum of a Family House, which was a house decorated with antique furnishings from the Spanish colonial era. For the price of admission, we received two tour guides and an audio in English, which was so funny that I have to describe it in detail. Two young women ushered us into each room and pointed to the sign displaying the audio guide number. So we walked into the kitchen, pressed 364 and play, then listened while the audio said, “this is the kitchen.” Then on to the next room. Funniest tour ever!

The highlight of the house was this fancy window, with stone carving above, the first one of its type in America. Now you’ve seen it too!

Guess what Santo Domingo has? A Chinatown! A great place to have dinner, although there were no Asians in evidence in the restaurant we chose.

Here is a statue entitled “Chinese Immigrant”.

This one depicts the Buddha, one of Jim’s favorites.

A fun day!