Thursday, February 19, 2015


Following yesterday's exploration of the old part of town, we decided to head down to the waterfront and see how Santo Domingo has incorporated the Caribbean into city life.

The Malecon is a broad walkway sandwiched between the ocean and a main road that roars with noisy traffic. There are a few token palms and other shade trees but for the most part it is a bricked & concreted corridor. Most of the buildings and definitely the seaside architecture dates from the 70s when there was obviously a building boom here (I need to study up on my history to know who was in power then.) The eastern end is marked by this notable statue, donated by Mexico, and representing one of the very first human rights activists all the way back in the early 1500s when this man spoke out for the rights of the native Taino Indians.

I had a good chuckle over this photo below. For those that know the BVI, we are definitely not on Jost! For those that don't, when we say we went to Foxy's, please don't put this image in mind!

Despite the Malecon running along the ocean, this stretch of coastline is rather like what we saw in Bayahibe, inhospitable, rocky ledges with the ocean swells crashing down on them. There are occasional little beachy areas but unfortunately they only serve as refuse collection points. I don't think I've ever seen so much garbage washed up on the shore, and when we looked carefully out over the ocean we could see a myriad of floating plastic bottles and other trash making their way back to shore.
Dominicans are the most patriotic bunch of people we've encountered so far. Everywhere the red, white and blue flags flutter and offices abound that have something to do with national fervour. In support of this mood, they build monuments and buildings to proclaim it. At the large roundabout where the road from the presidential palace meets the Malecon, there is this large painted obelisk. I didn't get to see the fourth side since the traffic was just to crazy to risk it, but I certainly would like to know more about the representation of these women on this one. I have some research to do!

Dominicans also love their sweets, and there are candy stores on most streets and candy vendors wandering between them. While I didn't get the sweet lady to pose for me, since I didn't really want to buy her wares, these carousel horses rather reminded me of the sweet, sugary concoctions.

We finally found a seaside cafe that served up the most delicious Frios, or fruit smoothies. I don't know how they manage to blend the fruit and ice together so smoothly so that there is absolutely no grittiness from the ice and the drink never separates no matter how long you linger over it. This is definitely a national skill that could be exported!

Refreshed with our Frios, we headed inland to see the Presidential Palace. The President doesn't actually live here, it is rather like our Parliament Hill in that this building houses the legislature and administrative offices. No access beyond the gates though, as they are solidly guarded by machine-gun toting young soldiers.

With the heat building and tired of the concrete and hustle and bustle of the streets we returned to our quiet little Casa with its private balcony. A nice little respite in the city.

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