09 April 2010

La República Dominicana

I've arrived in the the Dominican Republic. It took most of the day to get here, despite only being about 100 miles away. The first flight (to Provo) was 20 minutes and the second flight (to Puerto Plata) was only another 40 minutes. But I had a layover of about 5 hours in between. It wasn't so bad though, because it gave me the chance to walk down the street and get some Chinese food. It's simple things like that, that I really miss living on South Caicos.

Lunch in Provo

The very first thing that stood out about the Dominican Republic is that it is green. When you fly over the TCI you mostly see scrub vegetation on sandy, rocky terrain. But flying into the DR, everything is green, there are plantations and palm trees. It's a far bigger island with high mountains, so a lot of rain falls here, making it much more lush environment. This, however, I expect will have a detrimental effect on visibility underwater (more runoff, means more sediment in the water).

After landing, they led us through an absurdly long maze of corridors to immigration, where they charged me $10 to get into the country! It was a little bit silly how they did it, but there was an official looking desk and the immigration officer wouldn't let me through without paying, so I'm pretty sure it was legitimate.

The hotel I'm staying at offers free pickup for guests who stay longer than a week, the person who was supposed to pick me up from the airport was late. I waited for a while and told at least a dozen people that I didn't need a taxi or a "motoconcho" (motorcycle taxi). Eventually I found a way to call the hotel. Apparently the website for Air TCI said my flight hadn't taken off yet. I wasn't at all surprised. A Canadian who works at the hotel came to get me finally. The place I'm staying at, Rocky's Hotel, is pretty dingy. But I can't expect much when my method for choosing a hotel was to scan the listings for the lowest possible rate.

My Room

After I unpacked, I went into town with three objectives: find the dive center I'll be diving with, buy some cheap sandals (mine broke recently), and find a place to get some water. I achieved two out of three, and I'm feeling a little bit parched at the moment.

The city of Sosúa is a pretty typical Latin American tourist town from what I can tell so far. The exception, however, is that it seems prostitution is big business here. The guy from the hotel told me already that most people come to Sosúa "for the girls." I made it clear I was here to go diving.

The Street

Tauchschule Merlin

I'll be diving with Tauchschule Merlin (Diving School Merlin), a German-run dive center right down on Sosúa beach. They gave me a great welcome, and I'm really excited about diving with them. They told me to meet them back at the shop at 9am tomorrow morning for the first dive. I can't wait.

Playa Sosúa

Tourist Traps

A boat at the beach.

Right around the corner I found a place to get some sandals. I bargained down to what I was pretty sure was a fair price, but after purchasing them I promptly found them for $8 cheaper at another place. Oh well, they were still less than what I would have paid on South Caicos or Provo.

More likely than not, they're knock-offs.

I decided to come back to the room to write this up, and I'll attempt to find some dinner a little later on. My first impression of the place wasn't so good (tourist destinations centered around nightlife don't really appeal to me), but after meeting the people at the dive center, I'm feeling a little better about things.

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