AYCJ Day 16: Island time in Santo Domingo

IMGP5442 I’m reclining, cabana style, on the roof top deck of my hotel in the Colonial District of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and I’m honestly not entirely sure how I got here. I’ve got a couple ice cold Presidente beers on the table next to me, a full moon overhead and a gentle breeze blowing in from the water that I can see just a couple hundred yards away. Life in All You Can Jet world is not so bad.

The morning started entirely too early. The redeye flight from Long Beach to Ft. Lauderdale was only 4.5 hours long, dropping us on the east coast way too early in the morning. Fortunately the wait for the flight to Santo Domingo passed uneventfully and the flight itself was only half full. For reasons I still do not understand most of the passengers crammed themselves into the front half of the plane. The guy in front of me was about to take the window seat where the middle and aisle were already occupied. I told him to take my assigned seat one row forward and made my way tot the back of the plane where I had my choice of a dozen beds ready to go. A touch under two hours later I awoke to the pilot announcing final approach into Santo Domingo. Lie-flat coach seating really can be quite wonderful.

IMGP5441A broken down taxi and a couple frantic emails and phone calls and then an easy ride into town followed the flight. I was shown in to one of the cutest hotels I’ve ever seen: Coco Boutique Hotel. There are only four rooms and mine is not particularly large, but the spacious lobby area and the beautiful roof deck more than make up for that. It also happens to be located just off the edge of the Colonial District, one of the best neighborhoods for exploring and dining.

IMGP5438After a bit of work in the morning it was off to explore the city. The Colonial District is a great mix of old and new. From forts and churches dating back hundreds of years to reasonably modern facades decorated with beautiful iron works, the neighborhood is a IMGP5434great place to wander around for a few hours and enjoy the vibe of the people radiating out into the streets. I only caught a brief glimpse today; I’ll be back out on the streets again tomorrow for more of it, but the whole area has a very relaxed, easy-going feel to it.

The city seems to thrive very much on a sense of community rather than individuality. There is not a whole lot of privacy in town. Windows and doors are left open and folks are living their lives essentially in full view of their neighbors. Folks sit out in the parks and on the corners relaxing and otherwise whiling away the day rather than cooped up inside their homes, shut out from the world around them. It is quite different and quite pleasant all at once.

IMGP5437The old/new juxtaposition exists in more than just the architecture around town. It seems that many of the businesses in the Colonial District are print shops. I have no idea why, but there is a whole lot of paper and a number of presses in the area. And these are old school printing presses. Some looked like mimeograph machines that I remember from the early 80s. Yet they were chugging away, producing whatever it was that they had been hired to create. Maybe old, but certainly still quite functional.

I was wandering around town when it started to rain a bit. Nothing major; just a typical afternoon shower blowing through. But that forced me inside for lunch. I might be able to find the restaurant again if I tried but I actually walked past it in the rain before turning around and going back in to seek shelter and sustenance. The food was delicious, plentiful and rather inexpensive. For roughly $4 I got a tray full of beef, beans, rice, salad and a soda.


Dinner was similarly delicious, though a bit more expensive. I ended up at Mesón de Luis and was enjoying my Presidente when Luis stopped over to say hi. That’s always enjoyable. The fact that I barely understood anything he said before he switched to English wasn’t too big a deal either.

IMGP5440I was hesitant to commit to the Santo Domingo visit on my AYCJ pass. I didn’t know that it would be worth the $126.80 in taxes (and an extra $10 at immigration for a tourist card that is shredded about 30 second after you purchase it; exact change is greatly appreciated) that the trip would cost. Now that I’m here, relaxing on the roof top under the light of the full moon, I cannot believe I ever considered not making the visit. Definitely a cool place and worth coming back to, particularly if I can time it for the winter baseball leagues and try to smuggle a couple decent ball players back to New York City for the Mets.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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