Round the world in 193 Days - The Kelly Lang Experience travel blog

After a trying day, I had finally arrived at my new home...

No toilet paper in the toilet. I can't stress that enough

For the first time in my travels, I am truly alone. I have felt a wide spectrum of emotions in the last 4 hours. Sadness, helplessness, excitement, fear - but here I am, alive and well. And that’s saying something when you’re alone in the Dominican Republic. My new digs? A $30/night hostel with AC and wireless in the heart of Santo Domingo’s Zona Colonial. I am slightly uncomfortable, but in a good way.

It all started like this. . .

“Helma. . . I think it’s 9:15am” These were the first words that came out of my mouth after checking 3 separate time pieces that contradicted the 6:55am glare of the hotel alarm clock. We had planned to be up at 8am for a nice relaxed breakfast and cheap bus rides to the Santo Domingo airport to get Helma back to the US of A, but alas, disaster struck. We were not sure how the clock – which had never failed us to this point – malfunctioned in the night but it did. We hurriedly gathered the remainder of our things and while Helma took sole possession of the bathroom mirror, I made some calls to get a taxi lined up and our bags carried out to the front. The original plan had us on a $3 public bus to the Sichoprola bus station (which may or may not have been in the midst of a driver strike) and then an express bus to Santo Domingo for 8 bucks more. What actually happened was a emergency cab ride of $175 cab ride that we masterfully whittled down to $149 through broken English, sad faces and pure charm. Through a torrential downpour we persevered all the way to the Las Americas airport and made it with enough time to realize that we would have been screwed had we taken the bus. My sugar mama then bought us a couple of Quizno’s sandwiches and got ready to board. The sadness that had already kicked in on the cab ride was now in full effect and we were both torn up inside. With one last, “Please be careful. . . and don’t drink the water . . . and be careful. . .” Helma gave me a final sweet kiss that was certain to stay on my mind for the many months ahead. And then she was gone.

I mindlessly roamed the airport for a few minutes, trying to steady myself from the gravity of her departure and was finally snapped out of my stupor by a cab driver who knew I needed a ride. He turned out to be my Prabu and I was glad I found him. Much like the morning, plans changed quickly as new sh*t came to light. My original goal was to get to a place called Samana, but then I found out it was a 2.5 hour bus ride followed by another $40 cab ride. This was not going to work if I wanted to continue seeing the world on a shoestring. I instructed the driver to change course to the city of Santo Domingo so I could regain my composure at the $75/night Clarion Inn that Helma and I had researched (but not booked unfortunately) the night before. The online price I had seen was no longer available and the new online rates were $125/night. “But how,” you might ask, “did you find out that the rate you had seen was no longer available?” Well, simply by sitting in the Clarion hotel lobby with all my stuff and using their free internet. I scoured the web further until I happened upon another, much better option. It was called the Hostal Nomadas and it was 30 bucks a night. “Now we’re cooking with Pam,” I thought. I showed the new address to my cab driver who had been patiently waiting outside for over 20 minutes, and without the slightest hint of irritation he said, “Vamanos.” Once we arrived I gave the guy a few extra bucks for all the trouble and then eagerly got acquainted with the staff of my new home.

At dinner time I asked one of the hostel owners for a good place to go and he directed me to a quaint little restaurant called the Meson de Bari. Having used Spanish all day to navigate my surroundings I was feeling pretty confident when I responded to the waitress’s question of what I would like. Well, overconfidence breeds mistakes and that was exactly what happened when I missed the last part of her question which was “to drink.” My response of, “Whatever you recommend,” led to me getting an authentic Dominican pilsner called Presidente poured for me before I could summon the Spanish command “Wait!” If you do not know already, I am not a beer drinker. Not at all. But alas, I had sort of gotten myself into this one so I pretty much had to take a sip. The woman watched with expectant, hopeful eyes, and I lifted the glass to my lips. I dismissed the brief flash me ending up naked in a ditch somewhere due to there being illicit drugs dissolved in my drink and had a sip. Surprisingly, it was much less detestable than any beer I had had before. Close to making me rethink my stance on beer? Not at all, but still, it was tolerable as a means to satiate my immediate thirst. My entrée, on the other hand, was simply wonderful. It was something called chicken muneca (with a squiggly line over the ‘n’ to make it moon-yeh-kah) and I devoured it with no regards for the possible stomach issues that might be just around the corner as a result. I paid the bill and made the two block shuffle back to the hostel.

The cool air in my room was a welcome surprise as it enveloped my body and refreshed my exposed skin. After making some calls, I decided to pack it in for the night and fall asleep to a few much needed Spanish lessons on my Ipod.

Who knows what tomorrow holds.

Also, there is a sign in front of the toilet that says, “No paper in the toilet,” and shows a roll of TP with a skull and cross bones on it. Just thought I’d share.

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