Can't wai to go back

Susan Greco

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Feb 19, 2002
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Can't wait to go back

Sorry I am so late on completing this...

Spent 10 days in DR in late March - 5 in Boca Chica, 4 in Jarabacoa and then one more night in Boca Chica. Everything was wonderful! This is my 6th Caribbean island and by far my favorite! Well here is the trip with as many details as I remember.....

Left Portland Oregon (cold and rainy) at 10 pm and arrived in DR at 1 pm (warm and sunny). Met at the airport by Petteri, our fantastic host from Residencial El Candil. He was also there earlier that morning (5 am) to pick up the other couple we were meeting. When we arrived, he was busy helping an older couple from somewhere in the states who didn't speak Spanish and were trying to get a cab... scared they were going to get ripped off so picked him out of the crowd (I can only guess why....). Once in the car, gave us good info on all the sites we passed, then once in Boca Chica spent about 20 minutes driving us around town - pointing out the best restaurants, where to exchange money, markets, etc. Also gave us very important info like what the going rate for a Presidente and a cuba libre was.

Checked in and was awed by the beauty of Residencial El Candil. Pool, fantastic gardens, pool side bar... Can't believe we only paid about $60 US for a two bedroom apartment. Got a couple of cold presidentes from the bar and wondered where our friends were.... decided to go exploring, and walked the two blocks to Calle Duarte where we ran into each other. Decided to hit Hexenkessel for some more presidente and some sausage. Discovered that one of us spoke some German (you think you know people!)

We had chosen BC for scuba diving and since the other couple wasn't certified yet (needed to do checkout dives) we were 'assigned' to a divemaster named Regina with Treasurer Divers. The diving, the dive shop and she was great. In fact, we are hoping to hook up with Regina on another trip next year! The best diving I have done so far... incredible life on the wrecks, fish like you can't believe. My only regret relating to diving is that we didn't do the full day to Catalina Island (the divers that night said they dove with whales and dolphins) but we couldn't bring ourselves to get up at 6 am after our late nights!

We became fast friends with most of the folks from Treasurer Divers and spent our evenings after our diving drinking outside the dive shop, headed home to shower and then spent our nights at the Madhouse, sitting on some chairs in the middle of Calle Duarte, drinking presidentes and/or cuba libres. Spent most of our time talking (or rather trying to talk since none of us speak Spanish that well) to locals and others visiting the country. Ate in a few nights (bought fantastically good chorizo at the market for one dinner), also ate at La Criolla (great, cheap Dominican food) and Cafe Colonial (also very good and reasonable).

All four of us fell in love with Boca Chica. Those who live there were complaining about the weekends (the beach is so crowded with folks from SD) but that is part of what we loved. the whole atmosphere is happiness, no stress, enjoy a presidente. I have read on a number of boards that the 'peddlers' on the beach and the hookers are overwhelming. Just say no a few times and they all get the hint.

Other than diving and socializing we didn't do much else during our five days. None of us wanted to leave but the mountains were calling....

Rented a car from National for the 4 days (not to expensive about $200 including all the insurance we could get) and decided to hit the road. My husband was the designated driver and while it was 'madness', it was no worse than driving in, say, Los Angeles where we lived for a number of years. I have to say that the signs through Santo Domingo could be improved but we managed by using some not very accurate maps and a general sense of direction (we were those crazy people doing U-turns in the middle of the street, by the way). The political posters everywhere were rather annoying but oh well, I was able to also notice the beauty behind them.

The drive to Jarabacoa was uneventful - spent most of the time oohing and aahing about the gorgeous countryside. Staying at the Pinar Dorado. Once again, we were in awe of the beauty (and cleanliness) of the place - the gardens are gorgeous, lovely pool with poolside bar. and cheap (at least by US standards).

The extremely nice gentleman working at reception spoke not a word of English but we managed with a few Spanish words here and there.... our reservation had been lost but they still managed to find a room with a balcony overlooking the pool. Very nice.

Next morning went rafting with the folks from Rancho Baiguate. Another beautiful place and the guides speak English - Hooray! We were joking the whole way out there that at least we know left/right in Spanish! The rafting was very different than that which we had done in the states - narrow river with big boulders that you just go right over. Great outfit - felt perfectly safe. The river itself was beautiful but it was rather sad to see so much garbage floating on it and on the shores. It was VERY different than here - folks washing their clothes in the river, houses without obvious outlets for 'greywater' other than the river. Our guide Tony was fantastic and we became friends with him and another guide named Sandy who offered to take us to a couple of local softball games that night. What fun! We sat in the bleachers drinking (you guessed it) Presidentes. We had brought some sunflower seeds with us from the states and the locals wanted to try them...

The next morning, I decided to stay at the hotel and bask in the sun by the pool (my first day of sunning although we had been there a week!). The other three went canyoning which they loved (I hate heights so not a good thing for me to try). If I get a chance, I will post some pictures from the experience. Once again that night we went out with Sandy to a local pool hall - ate street vendor food for dinner (I know, everyone tells you not to do that but it was soooo tasty). More presidentes and cuba libres and trying to talk to the locals. Everyone was so patient with our little bit of Spanish!

Hit a couple of waterfalls the next day and headed back towards the south coast. Decided to stop in La Vega - just drove through because it was Sunday and very quiet in town.

We had decided for our last night (BOO!) to stay at an all-inclusive. We had never done that before and thought, why not try it. We had picked the Boca Chica Resort (I think it is called something else now). Arrived at 3 pm starving (didn't stop for lunch because, what the heck, we are headed there, right?). There was no food to be found in the place - not a good way to start off the stay. The only place open was the pool side bar and they were out of burgers - urgh! At 5 pm they closed the pools - another urgh! Had to wait until 6 pm for dinner - not a bad buffet although most of the food was very bland. Afterwards, sat outside drinking some Presidentes and trying to avoid making eye contact with the dance folks (please don't pick me).... The next morning they won't let us check out because they claimed we hadn't paid - good thing I made them give me a copy of the receipt when we checked in (which they weren't going to do). Left the island (so sad...) at 10 am the next day. Flew San Juan to Atlanta to Portland - home at 9 pm. I realized in Atlanta that I didn't want to go back to 'my life' while sitting in a bar listening to a woman yell at the waitstaff while talking on her cell phone - relax....

General perceptions:
Would go back again in a heartbeat... the people are wonderful, the scenary breathtaking, the diving superb. And oh, the rum.... so cheap and so good. Spending 10 days there totally changed my perception of the pace of life... why hurry, there is always tomorrow!

The bad comments general center around our last night - horrible service, no food.... otherwise I can't think of much that wasn't good. anyway thanks to everyone on this board who answered my questions - I hope to meet some of you on our next trip!
 

Isaac G

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Jan 19, 2002
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Susan or Robert

Susan,

I'm glad that you have the bug that is the DR the best country in the world last week I bought a huge Dominican Flag and hoisted it in my front yard yard my neighbors must have really thought that I flipped my wig.

At any rate I will soon be returning for a 2 week stay in the DR I'm looking for my still as yet unknown Dominican wife.
Since I love to blend in with the locals and avoid the tourist scene
what is your impression of Jarabocoa with respect to the tourist
influence I have passed that place enroute to Santiago but I never stopped?

Thanks, for your help Isaac
 

Parker

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May 21, 2002
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To Susan

Hi Susan,

I spent one week at the Boca Chica Resort (now called Dominican Bay) and am very surprised with your bad idea of the place. I might not be a five star place (like the Hamaca), but it's a very happy and gentle staff.
One thing, you said you avoided dancing and let me tell you you missed something : dancing with Ren? !!! He's a 24 year old dancer from the hotel and he is the GREATEST one I've ever met. Dancing merengue, salsa and bachaca is so much part of the life in DR, it really is something to experience too.
By the way, I totally agree with your feeling of Boca Chica beach, crowed with local... I loved it too.
I can't wait to go back either, next time I think I'll stay a bit longer and not only take an all-inclusive trip. Wich places in south DR do you recommand to stay ???
 

ArJay

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Jan 1, 2002
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Parker

When Susan said she did not want to dance, she may have been afraid to have her heart stolen away by one of the many great Latin dancer / romancers which the DR is famous for.
 

Janice

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Jan 12, 2002
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To Susan

Susan

What kind of car did you get from National for $50 per day with all insurance? Cost us almost twice that for a Nissan Sentra

Janice
 

BostonMary

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May 18, 2002
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You can rent a car from national for as low as @$185 per week for a Chevy Swing. A Nissan Centra is about $225 per week. I rent them twice a year from the Aeropuerto Luperon in Puerto Plata. The trick is to make your reservation in advance in the US. At one time you prepaid, but not now. One other thing you do not have to take the insurance if you pay with Visa or American Express. We had an accident, we reported it to Americam Express and they took care of it.
 

Parker

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May 21, 2002
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To Arjay

Do you really think I'm one of those rich american ladies that goes to DR only to meet young sexy dancers... ???
Maybe I'm, maybe I'm not.
Anyway, my point was, the music & dance is part of the culture in DR (that's what I felt). It's nice to watch or to listen to, but it's even better to try. I can understand merengue can be a pretty sexy dance when it's "overdone", but I practiced the Dominican Bay dancers and I can tell they're very soft and they only want people to get a chance to try their culture and have fun.
 

Tony C

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Jan 1, 2002
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Re: To Arjay

Parker said:
Do you really think I'm one of those rich american ladies that goes to DR only to meet young sexy dancers... ???
Maybe I'm, maybe I'm not.
.

No Rich american lady goes t the DR to meet sexy young dancers. Only cheap Canadian and Europeans women do!

Tony C.
 

ArJay

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Jan 1, 2002
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Parker

Actually no I didn't.

I posted my reply for the benefit of anyone who might not be as world-savvy as you are. Can't tell from black and white on a page who the person on the other end is.
 

Parker

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May 21, 2002
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Joke !

To Tony C.

I'm buzzed with your comment... Just before leaving for my holidays in DR, my friends made fun of me because of a TV show about "rich american ladies going to DR...".
Actually, I didn't meet any american, european or canadian lady of anykind overthere (wich I don't miss). My answer to Arjay was just a joke, wich brings me to my second point...

To ArJay.

Joking !!! cf. 1st point... but i didn't understand your line

Can't tell from black and white on a page who the person on the other end is.

Can you explain ?
 

Robert

Stay Frosty!
Jan 2, 1999
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dr1.com
The chatter ends here...

Take it to some other place. I'm not going to let a great trip report thread end up in the trash.

Tony C, don't bother replying, it will just get deleted.
 

Parker

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May 21, 2002
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Sorry !

I'm sorry if I put any trouble in this thread... it really was not my idea. I promess I'll take more care of my humour and what I say...
 

Susan Greco

New member
Feb 19, 2002
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To Janice

Janice - we rented a Nissan Sentra - we did book ahead through the states and had a discount card which I believe was for about 10% (so not too significant). It was through the place outside of the airport. Hope that helps! Susan
 

Susan Greco

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Feb 19, 2002
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Parker and Isaac

In response to your questions....

Parker - I would highly recommend the Residencial El Candil - the setting is lovely, the folks running the place are a wealth of information, and it is very conveniently located (just two blocks from Calle Duarte). The apartments are cleaned top to bottom everyday etc... Oh and by the way, I do know how to salsa, just don't like to do it on a stage in front of everyone.

Isaac - I highly recommend Jarabacoa for getting away from the tourists. I am also sure that others more experienced with DR could recommend even better places. You will need to be able to speak or at least understand some Spanish - at the coast the number of folks speaking English is much greater. At the Pinar Dorado we were the only 'tourists' (the remainder of the hotel was booked for a wedding, which by the way, we got to witness from our balcony one evening and it was beautiful, as was the bride). There were tourists from England, Germany and France but no Americans. I love my country but if I wanted to vacation with Americans, I would go to Florida!
 

m65swede

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Mar 18, 2002
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Great review, Susan!

The next time someone asks me "Why in the world would you take a vacation in a 3rd world country?", I will direct them to your review as one good example.

Sounds like your vaction was full of activity. BTW, your rental car fees were identical to ours during our April trip to the DR.

Swede
 

mondongo

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Jan 1, 2002
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Rental Car fees...I had made reservations in the USA. When I got the rental agent in Las Americas, he quoted me a higher price (dont recall numbers but i t hink about 15% higher). I then told him to give me the phone and call the USA number. he promptly gave me my original price.
 

Isaac G

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Jan 19, 2002
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Susan, Thanks for your advice!!

Susan,

I will most certainly find a few days to pass in Jarabocoa, I hope that since I will be visiting during high season that I will be able to find a place to stay otherwise I suppose it's back to Santiago.

Thanks again, Isaac