A trend/pattern that seems to emerge is that I'm arriving in a Caribbean island country, spending the first few weeks in Airbnbs around the capital, then camping out as I make my way throughout the surrounding countryside and towns. Seems to work!
Getting ready to ride around Republica Dominicana!
Probably going to be hot and humid. Maybe some t-storms, maybe some light rain. Regardless of the weather, I plan to make some measurable headway this week.
Not sure that I'll make it all the way to the eastern coast this week. That's probably farther than I'll want to go. I'm figuring on probably only staying a day or two in each of the towns from here to the coast. However, these things are hard to predict. Sometimes I find a beach or other attraction. Then, it's hard to resist!
I want to get back to the beach, the road, the open air. I'd like to take with me the warm showers, cool rooms.
I'm happy to leave some of the noises. The population in Santo Domingo seems quite dense.
We'll see what's ahead!
Satellite maps make planning look cool!
Buses look fairly affordable in Republica Dominicana. I think something like three cents per kilometer, a few times higher than in Cuba, from a quick glance the other day. I plan to bike it, but comforting to know that it's available.
A common feature that I like, which I've seen in most or all of the places I've stayed so far in RD, is a large ceiling fan with a five-level knob. I've always turned it to five.
I'm learning my way around RD geography.
I arrived in Republica Dominicana after having intentionally only done limited research. I sometimes like to do heavier research, to understand a place before arriving. Other times, like here, I like to experience it for myself first, to form my own opinions before reading.
So far, RD matches up to what I expected. Better in some ways, worse in others.
Wrapping up another long week in Santo Domingo, Republica Dominicana. At least I now feel that I'm gaining an understanding for the culture here. Also, perhaps not coincidentally, getting ready to leave. I feel that one often understands a place or language or book or culture just as one is getting ready to leave it. I think this indicates that the two are connected, understanding something and getting ready to leave it.
Next I plan this afternoon to walk over the bridge, to East Santo Domingo. Still part of the same metropolitan area, but it looks different enough, far enough, detached enough to form its own entity, at least as a political entity. Also, from there I can ride out into the rest of the Dominican Republic, so psychologically it's a larger distance, because this separates my "arrival in the country" period from my " riding around the country" period.
I'm looking forward to getting out into the countryside, for the quiet, the scenery, the people. Of course, once I get there I'll probably long for the city, the amenities, etc.
I guess that's the way things go. The grass is always greener. You often want what you don't have.
Luckily, I also like what I do have. I am happy to be in the city now, in a tall building overlooking a cityscape. I am happy to write.
Santo Domingo is a tough city. The crime, dogs, pollution, noise, congestion, heat, humidity, etc., combine to make it somewhat unpleasant to go out. Still, it does have its positive side. There's tasty and affordable food, a few buildings with attractive architecture, and more.
Santo Domingo fits among the places I've been where I find the least in common with the local people. At least it gives me a chance to see things differently.
I appreciate the more quiet, thoughtful, and the more positive, upbeat, festive places I've been.
So far, Republica Dominicana seems like a "no" place, like Cuba, rather than a "yes" place, like Puerto Rico. Not just in terms of my response to it, but in terms of the basic approach of people. In Cuba and Republica Dominicana, I feel like people are hasty to say that things cannot be done, whereas in Puerto Rico I feel like people are hasty to do things.
Parts of Santo Domingo are developing. The inner core of the city is surrounded by at least one layer of rough neighborhoods. Around that, there are numerous (gated) areas with fancier buildings, some under development. The relatively richer people reside here, driving through or around the rougher areas.
I find much of the development unattractive. Identical boring rectangular condos, shopping malls, etc. I guess that compared to the slums these places are a sizable improvement, but they seem to me to lack the appeal of fancier neighborhoods in some other countries.
This produces some stark contrasts, as in many other places. You can often see shiny SUVs among the street dogs.
The other day I came across a series of ad signs. One was a public service announcement, to the effect of "Remember when you didn't have emergency services?" Right next to it, an ad for a double bacon cheeseburger.
Anyways, looking forward to going ahead!
I think that once I know the neighborhoods of a place, is when I feel bored.
More Airbnb frustrations. At least there's nice music and scenery, sitting outside a colmado (bar/convenience store/etc.) where there happens to be wifi. Getting a taste for local culture, people heading out for a night of drinking Presidentes, watching baseball, etc., as stray dogs roam the streets. A cool wind prevails, after a brutally hot day.
Yesterday (Wednesday) wasn't my day. Seems like I'm having a number of challenges from day one in Santo Domingo. Also some achievements.
I went to supermarket for the first time since I've been in Republica Dominicana. A small store in a relatively upscale neighborhood, it even had American-style automatic sliding doors.
The vegetables were about half the price of in the US, but also somewhat flavorless as in US supermarkets. The pastry selection was limited. I did find in the bakery some pan sobao and pan de agua, bread common in Puerto Rico.
Later, after the next Airbnb host had still not responded, I had to find another one. The second place had a wrong address.
Looks like some Airbnbs in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, but not in smaller towns.
Around 400 km from Santo Domingo to the Haitian border.
Something like 50 km from the border to Port-au-Prince. Maybe just ride it all in one day, instead of pausing a night partway, as I had thought of doing.
The iffy weather forecast predicts light rain next week. I think I'll probably head east around then!
The Lesser Antilles (?) look smaller and more tightly packed. I think there are more ferries among them. I may walk instead of bike there.
I've noticed while looking at Airbnb maps of some of these poorer Caribbean countries that, despite the presence of rooms for under $10 a night, there are also places available for thousands of dollars per night!
It feels comfortable to stay in so many Airbnb's after a while camping. (Comfortable inside, a pain to reserve and get to the places with their poor descriptions.) Still, it's running down my funds, since I've had some struggles getting as much paying work as I now want. Also, I like the sun, the wind, etc., when camping.
I like to have quiet denouement periods at the end of the day. After working, to relax. Towards sleep.
I've been on an early schedule for a while. Waking up early, getting some work done, often seeing a sunrise, getting out in the daylight, often seeing a sunset, getting to bed early.
I worried that staying indoors more often, my body would lose its connection with the daylight, and I'd wind up sleeping in. Luckily, I'm still on an early schedule.
In some areas, like Europe, a country encompasses a medium size region with one or more traditional populations, having unique languages, traditions, etc. In other areas, like the USA, a country encompasses a large size region with a mix of different populations. In yet other areas, like the Caribbean, a country encompasses a small size region with a mix of different populations.
In these small countries, each country still needs the basic requirements for a country. So it's funny to see on some small island the size of a neighborhood the national center for art, the different branches of government, the military, etc.!