Another Week in Monte Cristi!

Submitted by eagle on Mon, 11/18/2019 - 13:42

It's interesting to see the commonalities, and differences, among people in different places. e.g. same family structure in different ecologies/climates, yet different trees, etc.

When I first pronounced "Canada" in Spanish, I placed the emphasis on the first syllable, as in English. I recall being corrected, that it has an accent on the last syllable. Here in Republica Dominicana, I've been corrected for pronouncing it with the emphasis on the last syllable. I just looked it up and it shows with an accent on the last syllable, so I'm not sure if there's some uncommon regional pronunciation here, or what.

People in Republica Dominicana have warned me against going to Haiti, often saying that Haitians are bad people, will kill me, etc. (in one case even saying they'll eat me "como vaca," like a cow).

Dominicans have a historical grudge against Haitians, who invaded a few hundred years ago. However, Haiti does have serious violence.

Protests near the U.S. Embassy, I've also read that foreigners are targets of Haitians.

Shortages of basics like water and food.

Shuttered banks and other businesses.

Burning barricades, roadblocks.

Rock-throwing, shooting, kidnapping.

Dangerous neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince apparently include Bel Air, Carrefour, Cité Soleil and Martissant.

Downtown dangerous, public transportation dangerous, night dangerous, border area dangerous, periods before special events dangerous, ATMs dangerous, etc. Seems like a dangerous country!

Petion-Ville has numerous armed robberies.

Also along Route Nationale 2, Petit-Goave to Miragoane.

It sounds like a poor country in a poor situation. I'm not really looking for that, but I do still want to see some of Haiti. At least a small amount.

Looks like 90 days in Haiti is legitimate without any visa extension.

$10 cash entry fee. Like a nightclub.

It's been a while since I've been sick here in Republica Dominicana. I therefore suspect it was just some initial travelers' illness from various local foods I ate, which my body has now adapted to.

Interesting. A disease I'd never heard of, chikungunya, is a virus that can cause long-lasting fever and joint pain. I wonder if I've ever had this, chalking it up to the weather?

Not much in the way of medical care in Haiti. Don't get sick!

Sounds like a poor African country, which in many ways it is.

Apparently boiling water is the best way to disinfect it. Convenient to know!

Reading government travel advisories is kind of funny. I think I've violated pretty much every rule! Seems like their advice would make for boring travel.

Haitian currency is the gourde.

Haiti also has Haitian dollars. Annoying when countries have two currencies. Five gourdes equals one Haitian dollar.

Bank cards should work in Haiti, when the ATMs work.

My main concern is the violence, both the systemic Haitian violence and the situation with the political turmoil. I still plan to see at least a small part of the country, and maybe by when I get there it'll seem safer.

Haitian Creole seems like the main language of Haiti, more than French. I'm going to try learning some Creole, somewhat before going, and more when I'm there.

Seems harder than one may think, from French to learn Haitian Creole. Still, I think at least a basic sense is manageable.

Another weekend in Monte Cristi!

Warm, sunny weather.

Went for a walk. Found a bike shop, a few blocks north of the town center. The first I've seen in town. Maybe I'll go back there before leaving town, to pick up a replacement pump (mine is broken, only partly works), a lock (I lost mine), and some spare tubes (the bike I traded for uses a different size than my previous bike).

The bike repair I did previously seems to have worked. The tire still holds air!

Eagle's law: Every Latin song contains the word "corazon".

Also popular in Latin songs: "olvidar" (forget, as in "I can't forget you"), "amor", "cuerpo" (body), y mas.

Republica Dominicana, like Cuba, feels like a "real" country. It has mountains, deserts, forests, cities, towns, farms, and more. Not to say that other countries are in some sense fake or anything. Just that people often have a notion of what makes a country, e.g. different regions, large enough size & population, etc. These larger islands feel like mini-continents, countries in the sea. By contrast, Puerto Rico feels (to me, anyways) more like a state or province, while Bahamas and other smaller islands feel like towns or counties.

Puerto Rico has a neat & tidy culture, yet with passion. A somewhat uncommon combination, which makes for catchy music (like Ricky Martin, Menudo, Despacito, etc.). Also, tasty & convenient food.

Puerto Rico has a neat & tidy culture, yet with passion. A somewhat uncommon combination, which makes for catchy music (like Ricky Martin, Menudo, Despacito, etc.). Also, tasty & convenient food.

By contrast, Cuba & Republica Dominicana seem hearty in a rough & wild way. The latter makes for more adventures, I think.

After Haiti, I'm planning to see the southwestern part of Republica Dominicana. Then, head to other Caribbean islands, not sure yet exactly in which route.

There are positive & negative experiences. For anyone, at any stage. I think it's important to be able to handle both.

Vendors walking by selling something, I can't make out what. It sounds like "cora" or something when they yell. The product looks like some herb or something. I also see what looks like cacti.

It's funny to see the contrasts, such as modern cars or trucks next to horses on dirt roads.

I heard that motorcycles require a license available at age 18. However, I see many people way younger than that riding. Some look no older than ten or so.

Republica Dominicana seems to be developing rapidly. As with some other countries, it seems that the adult generation had quite traditional agricultural conditions in large part, while the younger generations have in many senses modern conditions. By contrast, countries like the US seem to have developed a while ago, such that adults already had fairly modern conditions.

It's important to deal with uncertainty. Something that I think doesn't come easily to me. I've read that this ability improves with age, and I think that I'm getting better at it. Also seems more important during travel.

You can do a lot with not much.

In Republica Dominicana, chicken seems more common than pork or beef. Seafood is common on the coasts, and around larger lakes. Goat seems like a regional dish. They seem to make pork tastier here.

It's extra hard in a different culture to gauge when should arrive or go places. It seems to me like Dominicans consider it more normal than in North America to hang out for a while, e.g. a few hours.

A number of occasions recently, I've tried to work on the weekends, but wound up with so many distractions, other things to do, that work doesn't happen. I often then feel better, so I think that it's important to take weekends off!

Woke up early.

Monte Cristi strikes me as one of the most comfortable, middle-class towns I've seen in Republica Dominicana. People drive somewhat nicer vehicles than average, it has a nice location, etc.

More rain last night.

Back to work!

Monte Cristi, Republica Dominicana

More Monte Cristi Comments

Submitted by eagle on Fri, 11/15/2019 - 14:07

Monte Cristi seems like quite a dynamic town. People arrive & leave throughout the day.

People in one country often warn you about people in other countries. Everyone thinks they're fine, it's other people who are the problem!

Let's improve ourselves first.

Learn by doing!

Another Dominican Friday morning. Noisy again, after a quieter day.

Motorcycles and pickups roaring by. A woman sweeping the floor of the bar where I'm writing, which has been closed on weekdays but open on weekdays.

People chatting.

It's nice to have an extended period here!

Dominicans can be quite active, in social situations, yet they also leave you alone in the sense of not interfering. If anything, Dominicans are more likely to offer assistance, as in other Latin countries. I often feel like people are on my side, unlike in certain areas where I feel that many people are looking to cause problems. Of course, there are still criminals and other problems here, but overall I feel like some of the towns are quite upbeat!

Monte Cristi, Republica Dominicana

Bike Repairs & Monte Cristi

Submitted by eagle on Thu, 11/14/2019 - 17:58

This area of Republica Dominicana has tons of butterflies. Sometimes, like today, when I go walking the air is full of butterflies! A beautiful effect.

I had chalked up Monte Cristi as a conservative small town. It has a large military base, numerous churches, and other such indicators. However, while walking around the outskirts of town, I came across a "boutique sex shop," of the type that I usually associate with liberal towns.

While walking, I found a fruit tree. Turned out to be jagua! Found my first jagua fresh from the tree. Still somewhat underripe, but solid flavor!

Monte Cristi, Republica Dominicana

A truck just drove by, blaring an announcement for "gallinas a cien," etc. (hens for two dollars).

Each place has its appeals and its drawbacks. Here in the tropics, the stinging insects are definitely a drawback! Not complaining though, I'm happy to have insects and warm weather, instead of cold weather without insects.

Doing some bike repairs. My usual clumsy self is slow.

Republica Dominicana has a culture of street vendors. People walk around selling many different products, often carrying loads of the products in baskets on the vendors' heads. One of the funnier products that I see for sale is toilet paper. Vendors walk around yelling that they have toilet paper for sale, with rolls of it on their head.

The tube had at least two holes, as I had suspected. After adding another patch, I'm seeing if this one holds.

Even though I'm not much of a mechanic, with a bit of patience, thought, and effort I can get by.

A few recent repeat lessons:

  •     The water test for holes is one of the most effective (you can see air bubbles escaping from a hole when you hold a tube underwater).
  •     Narrower, larger, thicker wheels such as 700 C are way more effective for touring than wider, smaller, thinner wheels such as 26".
  •     Tools and parts come and go.
  •     It's often way easier and less time-consuming to use new parts, such as a new tube, instead of messing around with old, broken parts, such as patches.
  •     Regular preventive care is often way more effective than fixing things later.
  •     Make sure to keep your bike in running condition!

Many of these lessons also apply more broadly, of course.

Seems like the second patch has the tube holding. We'll see!

 

Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles: Mirrors!

Submitted by eagle on Thu, 11/14/2019 - 14:52

Now experimenting with ways to mirror one side of the goggles.

Seeing both sides together makes the goggles look more real!

The restarts/refreshes are important. Restarting this model after switching laptops. Restarting with a new phone next time I get one.

"I'd wear those!"

My mental thoughts on seeing the first mirrored version of these goggles.

Made it so that the two sides, left and right, can roughly connect to each other!

Still to do: adjust the spacings so that they meet evenly, and improve the process to make it faster and easier.

While working, processes and results develop together. Each feeds into the other. Unified by a goal, a vision!

 

Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles!

 

Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles!

 

Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles!

 

Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles!

 

Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles!

 

Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles!

 

Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles!

 

Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles!

 

Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles!

 

Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles!

 

Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles!

 

Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles!

Haiti seems safe enough to visit?

Submitted by eagle on Wed, 11/13/2019 - 14:33

Haiti seems to have some busy roads. That seems like an indicator that people use the roads. However, Haiti also has roadblocks, not sure if I'm reading this right but set up by not against protestors? That seems like a problem for getting around the country.

https://news.yahoo.com/haitis-cyclists-brave-protests-poor-120627295.html

"Sustained protests, burning tires and impassable barricades."

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article237044584.html

Haiti still has cholera!

This story says that the protests are losing steam:

https://www.voanews.com/americas/haiti-anti-government-protests-lose-momentum

Looks like the government is defeating the protestors.

Haiti police removing protestor barricades

More Monte Cristi Thoughts!

Submitted by eagle on Wed, 11/13/2019 - 14:18

Finally, a night without much rain. Slept nicely. Hearty breakfast!

Still feels funny for me to have something of a routine, see the same places and people, have regular wifi and AC. I like this town of Monte Cristi, Republica Dominicana! Scenic, friendly.

I'm thinking of maybe going to Haiti around December 10. If it's dangerous or disgusting, then maybe a quick ten or so day tour of the larger cities. If it's safer or interesting, then maybe a month or so.

I think I may be an "explainer." For years I've wondered what my role is. I'm not a visual artist, an accountant, etc. I think I'm finding out more and more that I'm good at understanding complex things and putting them plainly.

It's so convenient in many respects to stay in one place for a while, instead of traveling. However, I'm already starting (as I had predicted) to feel somewhat ready to leave. Travel is so rewarding, it makes for consistently fresh experiences. I think it's worth the extra costs.

From now on, until my next development of this variety, I want to do more of a mix of travel and work. It's something I've been trying to do for a while. Now I feel more committed to it. Instead of travel first, fitting in work, more of a balance of work and travel.

Sitting in the shade throughout the hottest, sunniest parts of the day, I remember some of the mental travel adventures I've had, getting stuck way out in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the day, having to ride through the sun. One more advantage of staying in one spot.

Despite so many comforts in stasis, the hardships of travel can actually be valuable in their own right. At least in hindsight.

I think it's important to maintain a mix of confidence and doubt. Without confidence, one won't go out there and take on worthy challenges that one can accomplish. Without doubt, one becomes too comfortable, taking things for granted. I think it's hard to strike an appropriate balance. It takes an ongoing commitment to awareness of one's self, one's environment.

I think it's important to ask tons of questions!

What do you think makes for success, in travel or in life?

Monte Cristi, Republica Dominicana

Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles: Another Session!

Submitted by eagle on Wed, 11/13/2019 - 13:52

Now working on the goggles some more!

It's fun and interesting to watch as the design evolves.

I'm now rerouting the upper part of the frame around the nose, so that it angles back something like an eagle's beak, to press back against the forehead. I feel that most glasses and goggles push down or back on parts of the face that congest the breathing. I'm aiming for a place that I feel may alleviate that problem. Still not entirely sure, about the theory or the design!

Much of this is new to me. I'm often unsure of what I'm doing. Hoping it turns out fine!

As you build, you gain skills and resources. You can reuse and build on these, so that each round you get better!

Here's some more imagery!

 

Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles!

 

Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles!

 

Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles!

 

Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles!

 

Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles!

 

Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles!

Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles & Annoyances & Lessons

Submitted by eagle on Tue, 11/12/2019 - 17:32

Another rainstorm last night.

Noisy day. Getting some work done.

A boring day in town. :)

Next, some more work on the goggles!

It can be annoying to start doing work, but once you get going you get into it, and there are often numerous benefits along the way, in addition to whatever direct payoff you were expecting.

Also, it's way harder to work without caffeine. :)

Doing computer work is in many ways easier and less fun than riding a bike through countries. However, each has its challenges and rewards.

Dominicans seem to like putting corn in places where it didn't previously belong, maybe even more than Americans do. There's a margarine here that has corn flavor, which I like, and I'm just trying a bread that has corn flavoring, too. I wonder what corn beer tastes like. Is that a thing?

Draft's coming along. I now feel that I have the approximate shape of the lens, for fitting the frame. Still, tons of fine-tuning there, plus broad brushstrokes stuff elsewhere, remains.

Many of the lessons that I learned from my previous drafting remain relevant for this draft. Much of the idea of the goggles remains, even though the details are quite different.

Here's some imagery!

 

Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles!

"Hey, that's kind of nice." My mental response on seeing a render. For much of this drafting process, I've found the model somewhat ugly. Glad to see it coming along!

More Monte Cristi Blogging

Submitted by eagle on Mon, 11/11/2019 - 20:37

Still sitting in the same hotel restaurant, had octopus curry for lunch. Interesting menu.

Looks like some more thunderstorm activity today, then a while of the more common sunny days.

I now plan to stay here in Monte Cristi at least through this week, probably through next week, and maybe even for a while thereafter. First time in a while that I've spent a considerable period in one place. Also, usually it's a larger city or other place of interest. In this case it's a small town, more a place of convenience. The town seems nice enough. But I'm here more to catch up on work, repairs, etc., while waiting to see how the situation in Haiti develops. It's somewhat relaxing, and it feels somewhat bizarre, for me to be in one place more than a day or two in a row. I like it, but I think I'm going to get bored sooner or later. Definitely seems easier to deal with ordinary tasks when you're not constantly on the go!

A somewhat funny phenomenon here in Republica Dominicana. Often the food vendors are informal, just a person or family from a small building. Here, the price you see is the price you pay. No tax, no questions. Yet, go to a fancier place, like a hotel restaurant, and the taxes and fees add up to way more than one sees in the US. Quite a disparity.

The hotel restaurant here has some nifty looking table signs. The triangular pyramid style that shows drinks, but this one also has some "Call" buttons on top, not sure if they work.

Another day in my adopted town. I like it here so far!

Monte Cristi, Republica Dominicana

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