Dominican Republic December 2010

On the plane from Miami to Santiago, Christina tried using her DS to see if anybody else on the plane was using one. After a while a little boy broadcast a message and they started writing back and forth to each other. He asked her if she was on the plane and she gave her seat number. Sandra then saw a bunch of people in front of us looking back, and we sent Christina up to say hi. She sat across the aisle from the boy and then later he came back and joined Christina in two empty seats in the row in front of us. Interestingly, the kids preferred not to talk, but to write back and forth on their DS's, even though they were sitting right beside each other! Communication is changing rapidly these days ...

Miami Beach - notice the cruise ships


As always, we stayed with Sandra's parents at their home in Santiago. Since we were there last, they have expanded the outdoor patio, the room that gets used year-round as an outdoor living room. Fresh air and sunshine all the time! Something else new this time was that Christina got to have her own room. A lot of visitors came by to see them (and us). The food they eat is sometimes a bit different than what we eat at home. I have really grown to like the salcocho (a hearty soup) over rice. Carla, a friend of Christina's from when she attended school here in Grade 2, came by to have pizza and watch a movie with her.


Santo Domingo views

We went with Sandra's brother Miky and his family to visit friends in the capital city, Santo Domingo. This was the first time we had been to their new apartment, and it was spectacular! They did a fantastic job of supervising the building process and ended up with a wonderful home. I was fascinated by the construction going on nearby, where workers were up very high without safety equipment in high winds, pretty much in the dark as you can tell from the last picture. I was surprised by their clever "barrel-chute" system for dropping debris down to the ground level. Look at the sticks holding up the top floor! Imagine the view on the left going 360 degrees around you - this is a huge city filled with tall buildings, so their building techniques have taken them a long ways.


The road to Las Terrenas

Elio and Miky drove us all out to Las Terrenas, near Samana, where Sandra and I went on our honeymoon. We didn't actually get near where we had been, as far as I could tell. Unlike most of where I've been in the DR, this road was a mountain road, with great views and interesting scenery along the way. I always try to get pictures when doing these kinds of trips, the streets are busy and interesting. The hills here were very pretty, as you can see they are quite pointy. I was surprised that there were so many people around, given that this seemed like a somewhat remote area. No matter how far we drove and how many side roads we went down, there were people everywhere.


The building site

Elio and Amparo are having a house built and they took us to see the site. They will have pretty ocean views when it is done. As you can see from the pictures, the soil is an interesting color. It is quite hard, too, they told me that it has to be jack-hammered rather than shovelled. I think somebody mentioned the word "caliche", though I'm not sure how it is spelled. I believe Sandra played tennis tournaments on courts made of the same material, and that it is like playing on Spanish clay - you can slide on it.


Viva Residence

We headed down to the beach and had lunch at a resort in Las Terrenas. They had a nice pool that Christina and Renata had fun in. The beach looked nice, but the water looked scary because the waves were coming in quickly. Christina didn't seem to be scared at all, though she didn't go in very far, just playing where the waves were breaking onto the sand.

Sosua Beach

Sosua Beach is great in the winter - the locals think the water is cold, and so it isn't crowded. There are many vendors in small buildings along the pathway in the trees, and we always go to the same place. Flaco brings out chairs and umbrellas, and we can order drinks and even grilled sea bass with tostonis (deep-fried plantain slices). This year the waves were up a bit, though only four feet high at the most. Christina and I spent hours in the water, trying to ride the waves, but they weren't quite big enough to get a good ride on. Reid's video. Christina's video. Sandra's video. Also, check out a beach life video.

Los Charamicos

We've stayed at this rental place a few times now, and it's pretty. Sandra's parents know a lot of the people that own places here. It has a pool and great views of the ocean, but the best part is that you can walk to the beach in just a few minutes. When we arrived this year, it was raining hard, but the temperature wasn't all that bad, so Christina and I put our bathing suits on and headed for the pool in the rain. The neighbors were hooting and clapping as we headed into the pool, thinking that we were crazy. Taking the shower before entering the pool WAS pretty bone-chilling, but once we'd been in the water for five minutes it actually felt kind of warm. Kind of.

Street Scenes

Here are a few pictures taken in the streets. All of them except for the cat picture were taken through a moving car window, so I don't have a lot of good pictures to choose from. One thing you don't see here is the large number of motorcycles on the streets. It is common to see motorcycles with three people on them, and sometimes even entire families of four with a baby being held by the mother.