Constraints & Adjustments

Submitted by eagle on Sun, 08/04/2019 - 22:32

In cities with millions of residents, you can't meet them all, or see every corner. Likewise, you can't visit every part of a country. You have to be somewhat selective. By what criteria do you choose places to visit?

Personally, I combine some of my personal preferences with any recommendations. For example, I often like to visit coasts, rivers, etc. Also, if I see or hear that a city is renowned for x, then I may go and do x. Also, sometimes it's just random, spontaneous fun!

Before arriving, I read that Republica Dominicana had advanced telecoms but inconsistent electricity.  Instead, I feel like the electricity is consistent but the internet is iffy.

It's like a whole different ball game having semi-consistent AC and wifi, versus working while camping!

Things often don't work out as expected. Important to adapt!

 

Somesense

Submitted by eagle on Sun, 08/04/2019 - 19:50

I've become so accustomed, in Puerto Rico most recently, to being constantly outdoors -- riding, eating, sleeping, beachgoing, etc. -- that it now feels bizarre for me to be indoors at all, let alone for any extended period of time.

My Caribbean Spanish accent:

"Que tu quiere'? Mira, coge!"

Things get smoother. I remember when doing anything on the internet, especially if it required payment processing, took a long while and often failed. Nowadays there are still hiccups, but it's more reliable.

I think I'm becoming more style-/design-minded. I've been accused of being too functional/utilitarian in the past. Maybe they had some sense?

I'm still struggling to figure out water in the tropics. Not sure which if any tap water is safe to drink. What spurred this thought is that I recently got quite dry after walking extensively in the sun, then drank a ton of water seemingly without feeling wetter, then went to the bathroom incessantly, and am now dry again! I don't get how to have a balance of water in this weather. It's like my body is both trying to get rid of and take in water at the same time.

On the subject of water in the tropics, I don't get public policy. In numerous countries, including both more- and less-developed countries, the water supply seems undrinkable. Residents often buy bottled water, either in small hand-held bottles or in those gigantic bottles that you can load onto a refrigerating unit. The cost in money and time for those things must far outweigh the cost of improving the public water utility, or so it seems to me. Maybe it's just not a preference/priority for these people.

Also, the sewage systems seem quite brittle, and people in these areas often throw toilet paper in the garbage, instead of in the toilet. Maybe it's more expensive/difficult to fix these systems than I'm presuming. However, I do know that bottled water costs a ton, and is heavy to lift (but some brands do taste pleasant!).

As I've mentioned previously, I'm becoming less interested in urban areas. This goes back at least a few years. I know that I used to be fascinated with cities, and to some extent I still am. However, the older I get, the more I notice the annoyances, and the less I appreciate the draws like bars and crowds. Conversely, the older I get, the more I appreciate the quiet, the spaciousness, the beauty of the rural areas and small towns.

I plan to continue riding/traveling for a while anyways. I'm addicted to the constant stream of new activities. Also, this way I get a balance of different size places, different cultures, etc. I love it!

I have a long list of places that I want to visit, approximately planned out in my head (and in my notes). I understand that I may not get to see all of these places, and that those I do see may happen in different sequences than I plan, and assuredly with different outcomes. Still, I feel confident that I can at least visit a number of these places, and in general have positive experiences. I already have made this type of travel happen, many times, and the more I do so, the more confidence I gain.

If you want to travel, or to pursue some other activity, go out there and do it! You don't have to start out being the best at it, in fact that would be quite a feat!

It's ok to make mistakes!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

The way I'm writing these day (I think that my writing process evolves over time), I pick up/collect bits and pieces of ideas, observations, etc., as I go along, and jot them down as I can. Then, I gather them up later, and reassemble them into working order. This stuff here (blog notes) is basically the jotting down stage. So forgive the random/haphazard/etc. style!

What's the point of this? Why write? Why write this?

I think that in large part I want to document, to describe the processes of adventure travel.

While going to unusual places in unusual ways, I often encounter uncommon things that people may care about.

Also, it assists me in remembering and appreciating my travels, which I consider an important part of the travels.

Also, I hope to make it further as a writer!

Maybe it also has other purposes, like therapy. Many activities are multi-purpose. Riding is transportation, exercise, recreation, etc.

Words have a way of transmitting information about ourselves and our environments that other media lack. Pictures, wordless videos, can give a solid feel for a place, perhaps far better than words, but lack depth, understanding. Why does the person feel that way? What processes are occurring in that scene? To some extent one can infer these notions, but only vaguely. Words can place these ideas precisely. Perhaps not as precisely as mathematics, which can be so detailed that it leaves out the big picture that one gets from words or images. I guess words are a middle ground from math/logic to pictures.

It's about qualia, qualities, quality.

Anyways, there's some more drivel from the fool!

 

(Extra)ordinary!

Submitted by eagle on Sun, 08/04/2019 - 16:29

It's so hot and humid, seems like people often stay indoors.

Something that's confused me here in Santo Domingo so far, the gas prices look exorbitant. I've seen signs for around $5. Since the distances and speeds are in kilometers, I figured that price was per liter. However, it looks like it may be weirdly per gallon, which would at least make the price make sense.

Puerto Rico had comparable confusion. There I'd seen speeds/distances measured on some signs in kilometers, on other signs in miles.

It feels funny for me to be so clean and indoors and eating out in poorer countries like Republica Dominicana and Cuba, but dirty and outdoors and eating inexpensive groceries in richer areas like Puerto Rico. The contrasts in terms of what and how I eat, sleep, etc., and in terms of how other people react to me, can be quite stark. In general, I prefer to spend money in poorer countries, where the money goes farther and contributes more to people in need. However, richer areas often have some products and services that aren't available elsewhere.

In many ways, my days differ enormously from "ordinary" people's. In other ways, we're the same. While visiting exotic destinations, I get to try a huge variety of activities. Often, I encounter unlikely surprises. However, I also still do many ordinary things while traveling, like working, exercise, eating, etc.

I'm having a quiet weekend. After so much excitement, it feels refreshing!

 

Geography, Culture, Politics: Republica Dominicana

Submitted by eagle on Sun, 08/04/2019 - 13:46

Just tried some Dominican coffee. Tastes OK, decent for coffee. I had it with unrefined sugar. I've often liked coffee a ton, but recently I've found it only so-so, for taste and effect. It makes me feel "buzzed" but somewhat uncomfortably. I can see how it can improve work or other activities, especially in humid, sleep-inducing weather like in the tropics, Pacific Northwest, and other coffee-drinking places (which are also often beer-drinking places, for comparable reasons).

Maybe one day I'll get back on the regular coffee-drinking bandwagon. For now, I've been feeling best when not drinking caffeine, alcohol, or other drugs. I just consistently feel fine -- whether active or resting, instead of having bouts of intensity/withdrawal, I have more of an even tone.

Getting set to turn around soon. After an exciting and exhausting week of going to a new country, I'm taking this weekend to rest up, take care of some chores, plan routes, etc. Next week looks like rain anyways, and I want to get some more work in, and see some more of the capital area. So, I plan to slowly make my way around the remainder of Santo Domingo, popping out on the eastern side of the river. Then, ride east!

The country is starting to look more manageable, coming into focus. There are some sizable challenges, physiological and psychological. Looks like the roads/highways don't connect the entire route I want to take around the coast, so I think I'll be forced inland, over mountains, where I don't particularly want to go. At least it's good exercise!

The Caribbean Spanish accent and vocabulary are becoming somewhat more understandable for me. I think that a combination of struggling through difficult conversations, reading about the accent, and reading in Spanish generally, train the ear and tongue.

I feel like travel brings out the best in me, and in other people who travel. Occasionally it brings out negatives too, such as in the stressful situations special to travel. However, on the whole the challenge seems to draw out one's hidden resources. Each day one gets to perform feats that would seem impossible in "ordinary" life.

I like to read anyways, and while traveling I encounter different books/magazines/etc. than I otherwise would. As such, it's often pleasant/interesting/etc. to read while traveling, even though there's often not a chance!

I've long wanted to visit or reside in the tropics. Now that I can, and am, it often exceeds my expectations (as often seems to happen during travel).

In many ways, the tropics resemble my expectations. The beaches, the buildings, the plants and animals. However, my appreciation keeps growing stronger. I was somewhat worried that I'd quickly get bored after the initial novelty wore off, however I find that I continue to appreciate it more.

The tropics definitely have downsides. For me, those include the weather's effects on my body, the crime, etc. I've already mentioned those.

I want to go to places that are warm like the tropics, but drier, again. Deserts.

Each geography brings about certain behaviors in individuals and societies. It's interesting to see the cultures that arise in various areas as I travel. Also, to feel the changes that occur within me as I visit different environments. Which environments suit you most/least? Which do you like?

Some people seem doubtful of the connection of geography and culture. To me, it seems like a well-established position. From any perspective, this explanation seems to fit the facts. Physically, people stem from their environments. Bodies and minds develop in their environments, from the air they breathe to the food and water they ingest. Over the longer term, genes and cultures adapt to their environments through differential survival rates. I think that doubting the geography-culture connection is doubting basic scientific observations such as evolution. Whether through ignorance, political bias, or other causes.

In politics, it seems that Republica Dominicana had recent corruption problems. Now there are ads around the city mentioning the previous problems. At least, that's how they present the situation.

 

Murder, Accident, Disease (MAD) Research!

Submitted by eagle on Sat, 08/03/2019 - 20:27

I'm now planning to ride out hurricane season in Republica Dominicana.

Probably spend another week or so in the capital area, then head east along the coast.

I don't have an exact route yet, much of it depends on the roads, the attractions, weather, what I feel like, etc.

May need to leave enough time to get back to the capital in case of any border issues. So, figure on something like December exit.

I'm thinking that certain Caribbean countries are far more dangerous than developed countries.

1/100,000 japan?
5/100,000 france?
25/100,000 RD?
100/100,000 venezuela?

Murder/violent crime

Per year

6.2-7.6 global average.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

The overall murder rate has gone down over recent years. Perhaps in part because of better hospitals reducing the number of assaults that become murders.

The Americas and Africa (areas with large African populations) have four or five times as many murders as Eurasia or Oceania.

Central American countries have high murder rates.

Some small countries have no murders!

The US Virgin Islands, possibly my next destination after Hispaniola, have one of the highest rates, at around 50 per 100,000 per years. That's 5 per 10,000, or 1 per 2,000.

Mexico is at around 25, half the rate of some Caribbean countries.

Some of these countries with comparable murder rates feel far more dangerous than others. Maybe because of overall violent crime rates.

Republica Dominica is somewhat down the list, at only 11.3 per 100,000.

Haiti, in the same area, has 10.0 per 100,000.

The US has half the murder rate of Hispaniola, at 5.3/100,000.

European and Asian countries have rates around 1/100,000. In Japan, it's 0.2/100,000.

So a peaceful Eurasian country has around two hundred and fifty times fewer murders per capita than a violent Caribbean country!

The incarceration rates seem roughly to track the murder rates.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

The US has the largest rate, at 655/100,000.

Some cities have twice as many murders per capita as violent countries!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cities_by_murder_rate

Los Cabos and Caracas have over 110! That's five hundred times worse than Japan!

I've been through a sizable chunk of the top murder rate cities on the planet.

In some, the violence is largely directed at people fighting drug wars. In others, the city just feels dangerous.

Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, and the US have the most cities on the list.

This list of crime rates shows Republica Dominica as more dangerous.

https://www.numbeo.com/crime/rankings_by_country.jsp

This site shows the US rate of violent crime at 382.9 per 100,000.

https://www.statista.com/topics/1750/violent-crime-in-the-us/

Is driving more dangerous? I'm guessing so. 100/100,000?

Over a third of road traffic deaths in low- and middle-income countries are among pedestrians and cyclists. However, less than 35 percent of low- and middle-income countries have policies in place to protect these road users.[3] The average rate was 17.4 per 100,000 people. Low-income countries now have the highest annual road traffic fatality rates, at 24.1 per 100,000, while the rate in high-income countries is lowest, at 9.2 per 100,000.[3]

From <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_traffic-related_death_rate>

So traffic is about as dangerous as murder.

The way people drive in poor countries seems dangerous, and in fact it is:

In low-income countries it is even worse. Only one percent of the world's registered cars produce 16 percent of world's road traffic deaths.

From <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_traffic-related_death_rate>

It looks like traffic is more "compressed" than murder. In the safer countries, traffic is more dangerous, while in the more dangerous countries, traffic is safer than murder.

Half of the world's road traffic deaths occur among motorcyclists (23 percent), pedestrians (22 percent) and cyclists (5 percent) – i.e., "vulnerable road users" – with 31 percent of deaths among car occupants and the remaining 19 percent among unspecified road users.[4]

From <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_traffic-related_death_rate>

More than three-quarters of traffic fatalities are among males.

Switzerland has very safe drivers.

Disease can be a big killer.

Around 50 million people die per year.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_causes_of_death_by_rate

The overall death rate is around 1,000/100,000/pear, or 1% per year.

Diseases account for most of that, with cardiovascular at 250, infectious at 200, coronary artery and cancer and respiratory at over 100 each, stroke at nearly 100, HIV at nearly 50, digestive at a few dozen, and numerous other diseases on the list. Basically, disease kills.

Traffic seems like the leading non-disease cause, at only 19/100,000. Suicide has 14/100,000.

Violence is at 9, but with way more deaths among males than females.

Falling, drowning, poisoning, and fire each takes a handful per 100,000 per year, again more often for men.

Non-HIV STD's account for only 3/100,000/year.

War also accounts for only around 3.

Alcohol and drug abuse adds up to around 3.

Cancer peaks younger than I had thought, while cardiovascular keeps getting worse with age.

I would argue that perhaps the best thing one can do for safety is to take care of one's health. Eat well, exercise, balance stress, socialize, have fun! :)

A few percentage improvement to health probably does far more for longevity -- and happiness -- than fretting over unlikely events like car accidents, murder, etc.

The rate of killing by cops in Venezuela is far larger than the overall murder rate in many countries! It's double the global average!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_killings_by_law_enforcement_officers_by_countries

Dominican Republic is around halfway down the lists of development and peace, and further down the lists for competitiveness and not having corruption.

RD is also around halfway down the population list.

I think I'll like the northern coast of RD more.

 

Eating Republica Dominicana

Submitted by eagle on Fri, 08/02/2019 - 12:24

Throughout my stay in Republica Dominicana so far, I've had travel-related digestion issues. Not sure if it's the tap water, the fruits, or something else.

While traveling, I like to try local foods, or any that I haven't seen before. One funny phenomenon I've seen in a number of places is large multinationals advertising as if they're local. Fast food, soft drinks, snacks, etc., are often marketed to appeal to local tastes, sometimes even going for the wrong impression of being local.

I'm about to eat some combination plantain/yucca/crackling chips I bought while shopping. The packaging advertises them as appropriate for eating while playing dominos or soccer.

They're a mix of the different snacks, I thought they'd be one snack mixing the different types.

 

Streets of Santo Domingo

Submitted by eagle on Fri, 08/02/2019 - 12:23

Rented a second Airbnb, to see some different parts of town. Wrong street address, so I walked up and down the street looking for the place or wifi. As I was walking along one block, the host greeted me, having seen me walking. Inside the place, which has like fifteen different locks on five different doors, the wifi didn't work. Tired, I went to sleep early.

In the morning, the wifi still didn't work, so I went walking, looking for wifi. I found a nearby university with weak wifi. After working for a while there, went for a longer walk to eat some food and take in some of the city. Some more down-and-out areas right outside of the city center.

A few blocks from the Airbnb, I took out my phone to look at the map. While I was looking at the map, three young male Africans walked by, probably teenagers. After they walked past me, they turned around and walked back towards me. At first I wasn't sure if they were going to ask me something, but when they were inches away from me, they pulled out knives and grabbed at my phone. I pulled back my phone, yelling to scare them off.

That's the second occasion in my first three days in Dominican Republic that people have tried (and failed) to rob me. It seems like a dangerous society, having large numbers of criminals.

 

Getting the swing of things in Santo Domingo

Submitted by eagle on Thu, 08/01/2019 - 14:36

The Dominican beaches look nice.

Looking around, I think that the smaller towns will be more appealing to me by far than Santo Domingo, other than the unique historical interest of the capital. Funny for me to write that, since I'm often Mr. Ahistorical, but I like New World history.

Anyways, the coast looks like it for me, so I'm planning to head east, ride largely around the coast, then fill in the gaps!

The Dominican government website for immigration (to extend tourist visa) is hilarious. It has limited information, old style, etc.

By the way, Santo Domingo has a metro system, the only one other than San Juan, Puerto Rico in the Caribbean.

Republica Dominicana is growing on me. This often happens, after a difficult first while. For this reason, I consider it important to give places a chance to show their better side. In Santo Domingo, on my first day I accidentally walked into a rough industrial area, which was surprisingly close to the old city.

Now I've had a chance to see more of the city. I still think the drivers are nuts, but I'm getting a feel for the place. There are tons of food vendors, which is something I appreciate about many Latin countries. The sidewalks are narrow and difficult, and because of all the water-clearing gaps (it rains a ton), hard to walk a bike along.

 

Republica Dominicana Planning

Submitted by eagle on Thu, 08/01/2019 - 14:23

Punta Cana looks like a touristy beach resort zone.

200 km away? Probably more if following the coast.

That's like going along one length plus one width of Puerto Rico.

RD looks huge, compared to PR.

I do want to ride east, along the southern then eastern then northern coasts.

I'm hoping to get around that way fairly fast, and that I can then get another 30 day permit in RD after Haiti, to see the remaining parts and then hit the next island.

I love looking at maps, planning trips, daydreaming!

 

 

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