Today is May 16th, 2018. I am currently traveling through the Dominican Republic in pursuit of my goal of world travel. I’ve started this blog in order to document my experience.
I’m officially on the final leg of my trip. Two weeks ago, I accepted a job for the International Trade Administration with the US Department of Commerce which I begin at the end of the month. As much as I want to continue traveling the world, I have to put my ambition on hold and take care of my finances. I will be leaving the Dominican Republic on May 22nd and fly back to Los Angeles via Fort Lauderdale. After spending a few days in Los Angeles picking up the rest of my stuff from my storage unit and cashing my security deposit check from my former apartment, I will head off to official begin my new job. However, before that happens I still have about a week left in the Dominican Republic which I plan to take advantage of.
My last few days in Cabarete were fairly uneventful as I feverishly worked on getting this blog off and running. Although I wanted to stay off Facebook for the entirety of this trip, I was forced to log back on in order to retrieve all the travel videos that I had posted so that I could transfer them over to the website. I was able to successfully do so, and my blog has at least some interesting content on it now. In between working on my blog, I hung out in the beach in Cabarete. For $200 DPO ($4 USD), I was able to get a beach chair right off the ocean. In addition, because the chair was located at the expensive restaurant that I ate at during my first night, I still had access to the Wi-Fi on my phone. During the last 2 days I must have spent 12 hours in the same chair taking in the sun. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do so forever and had to check out the hotel yesterday.
For my final destination, I decided that I would head down to the Punta Cana area. It wouldn’t feel right if I came to the Dominican Republic and didn’t go see Punta Cana and it was also fairly close to Santo Domingo making it easy for me to get back there for my flight out. However, getting to Punta Cana from Cabarete would prove to be exhausting. The day of my check-out, my goal was to be out of the hotel by 7:30 AM. I told the guy working at the desk I would, and he was willing to wait half an hour past the end of his shift to collect my key. That goal was almost in jeopardy as I woke up at 7:10 and was in no hurry to get out of my bed. It was only because I had to go to the bathroom that I got up, which afterwards, I took a quick shower and was ready to go at 7:35. After thanking the employee for the hotels hospitality and turning in my key, I walked to the main highway to catch a gua-gua going toward Sousa. Unfortunately, the three vans that passed were so packed that I wouldn’t be able to fit given I had my travel bag with me. Luckily, as the third van passed, there was a taxi who was letting out a passenger right behind it. I jumped in the cab not knowing what time the next bus would leave from the Caribe Tours bus terminal in Sousa. While the trip only cost me $50 DPO ($1 USD), both me and my travel bag were crammed with three heavy set Dominican men in the back seat. After arriving in Sousa, I went to get in the front seat. The person getting out turned out to be a Dominican police officer. I knew it because as he was getting out, he was carelessly swinging his pistol around like it was his wallet and it was actually pointed at me for about 20 seconds. While I imagine it wasn’t loaded, it was still startling. I eventually arrived at the bus terminal about 20 minutes before the next bus would leave for Santo Domingo. The ticket cost me $350 DPO ($7 USD). While fairly comfortable, the bus ride ended up being 5 hours because it had to pass through Santiago, a city at the base of the “Dominican Alps”. However, I was able to knock out some blog entries and work on my website because the bus had Wi-Fi. I arrived in Santo Domingo at about 1 PM, and because traveling isn’t always simple, I had to go to another bus terminal across town to catch a bus to Punta Cana. After arguing with several taxi drivers, I gave up and eventually called an Uber to take me to the Expreso Bravaro bus terminal. It turns out that I was able to catch the second-to-last bus that was leaving for the day for $400 DPO ($8 USD), and had I not woken up when I did, I would have probably been stuck in Santo Domingo for the night. I celebrated my good fortune with three Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
The bus ride started off extremely comfortable as it was a double decker bus that had the air condition on full blast. It seemed like there would be enough space for everyone to have one or two rows for themselves. However, as luck would have it, we ended up stopping at a bus station right outside Santo Domingo and the bus filled up really quickly. I went having a seat for my bag to having my bag uncomfortably stuck in between my feet. I ended up being stuck in this position for the next 4 ½ hours. It was worse because the guy sitting next to me didn’t move even when rows were opening up from people getting off. In reality the trip itself should have taken 2 ½ hours but once we got inside Punta Cana, the bus became a local city bus in that it stopped to drop people off every 500 meters. Driving through Punta Cana was an interesting experience. Unlike Cabo, where there was a clear separation of the developed touristy part and the local housing, it was blended together in Punta Cana. There would be 2 miles of international shopping, upscale resorts, and American restaurants followed by a mile of local comedors, abandoned buildings, and rundown houses. Then it would go back to being upscale resorts and trendy night clubs. It turned out the hotel I had reserved was in the town of Bavaro which was another resort town right outside Punta Cana City. Getting off the bus at 7:30 PM, Bavaro was extremely busy. However, the center of town was pretty rundown, and this was the first time in my traveling where I felt like I could get robbed. In the 500-meter walk to my hotel, I got solicited to buy drugs twice. The hotel I booked was called the Hotel 2 Bavaro in which I thought I found an incredible deal for 5 days that would have cost me only $69 USD for a private room. I thought the deal was too good to be true…….and it was. I knew I wouldn’t like the room, when the girl at the desk asked if I wanted to see it first. The “room” was a closet, that barely fit a bed and a night stand. To be honest, it was one of those rooms where guys that can’t bring prostitutes back to their resorts use to hook up for two hours. I may be cheap, but even I have standards. I ended up booking a full-size king room for $25 a night. Even though I wanted to leave the next day for something closer to the beach, I had to book three nights to cover the $69 non-refundable reservation. The room wasn’t bad, outside the fact that the lights have to be on for the outlets to work. I was able to find a nice gym a block away that let me work out for $200 DPO ($4 USD) a day. Right now, I’m going to figure out how the public transportation works and see if I can make my way to the beach. I will let you know how it goes in my next entry.