Today is May 4th, 2018. I am currently traveling through the Dominican Republic as part of my goal to travel the world.
As I sit in a bungalow on the Samana peninsula reflecting on my first week in the Dominican Republic, I can’t help but wonder what might have been had I decided to take this trip a month ago. Before I summarize my last few days, I would like to point out that when all is said and done, one month of living on the beach will cost me less than $500. This is a far cry from the $1900 per month that I was paying to languish in my apartment in San Diego.
As far as the trip itself, the rest of my time in Santo Domingo was uneventful. I spent one day laying in my bed feverishly reviewing Spanish coursework from my classes at San Diego City College. I also found a few cool videos on YouTube that allow me to test my listening comprehension. I tried to be a little more active on my last day in Santo Domingo, in that I walked 2.5 km to the Natural History Museum. On my way I was also able to get some pretty good pictures of the Presidential Palace. As I thought that the museum itself would be more oriented towards the history of the Dominican Republic, I was disappointed to learn that it was more a scientific museum that dealt with biodiversity and astronomy. Nevertheless, it was good value for the $50 DPO (.60 cents) ticket. After that museum, it was only a short walk to the Museum of Art. While art itself doesn’t really peak my interest, there was no cost to enter and some of the exhibits provided a fascinating perspective on how Dominicans view the United States. After that museum, I found the history museum that I was originally wanted to visit (called the Museum of the Dominican Man). However, there was a $100 DPO ($2 USD) entrance fee and I was so exhausted from 4 hours of walking in the Dominican sun that I didn’t think I would be able to focus enough to get full value for my ticket. I left the museum and went back to the hotel to prepare for my departure for the next day.
The next morning, I woke up and took an Uber to the Caribe Tours to embark toward my next destination-Las Galeras. Las Galeras is a small beach village on the northern tip of the Samana peninsula that is known for white sand beaches and seafood. Although it can be challenging to get to, it is more laid back than traditional tourist destinations such as Punta Cana and Cabarete. I got to the bus terminal at 8:10 a.m. to catch the bus to Samana City which I expected to depart 9:30 a.m. (as stated on the company’s website). However, upon my arrival, I learned that I missed the bus by 10 minutes and would have to wait until 10 a.m. for the next one. The ticket to Samana cost $340 DPO ($7 USD) and would take 3 hours. The bus ride itself was extremely comfortable as there were only 4 other passengers on a full-size coach bus. Not only was there plenty of room, the bus was also equipped with air conditioning and Wi-Fi (albeit not the most reliable).
I arrived in Samana around 1 p.m., but still had to get to my hotel in Las Galeras which was about 45 minutes away. As I was coming off the bus, I was immediately confronted with taxi drivers who wanted my business. While I knew that I could find cheap public transportation if I looked for it, I don’t like walking around unknown places with my full gear (i.e. passport, laptop, both credit cards). I ended up negotiating with one of the drivers to take me to Las Galeras for $800 DPO ($17 USD). The ride itself was nice as a majority of it was down the coastline. However, when we arrived in Las Galeras, the driver tried to extort me for another $200 DPO ($4 USD) to drive me the additional 2.5 km to my hotel. I ended up giving him another $100 DPO ($2 USD) for the extra “inconvenience”. My hotel was called La Rancheta which I booked for 7 nights at about $25 a night. Like the Santo Domingo Bed and Breakfast, this place didn’t take credit card for payment. Not wanting to give up all my cash without testing the ATM, I only paid for 5 nights. While the hotel was a little far from the center of town, it was the extremely laid back. The owner, who I believe is Belgian, was extremely helpful in orienting me to the city. The “room” was a house with a private bathroom and to twin beds pushed together. There was some issue with the water pressure my first night which made taking a shower an interesting experience. However, these was no issue this morning when I took a shower after my run. The town itself was small and was populated by small hotels and European themed restaurants. I was able to find a small comedor that had El Plato del Día for $200 DPO ($4 USD). The food was pretty good. In fact, it was so good that as I was going to get more rice, one of the cats that was hanging around the table literally stole a piece of my chicken. The owner was understanding and gave me more meat and rice which I paid her $100 DPO ($2 USD) for her trouble.
My first night in Las Galeras was indeed interesting and should be more interesting the next 4 days.