Very Boring Post: Do Not read.

 

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After driving through a riot on the most dangerous road in the Dominican Republic, it was unbelievable to turn up the driveway of our 5 star, all inclusive, resort hotel. I typically hate resorts. I prefer a nice, cheap hostel, complete with copious amounts of cheap booze and rambunctious travelers. But I have to admit, that they are one of the most perfect places to relax.
The place was a mansion set up with a colorful, colonial style adobe exterior that overlooked a sky blue ocean lined with palm trees, powder white sand beaches, and small tiki huts for sun bathing. Not only that but it had four pools, one of which was equipped with a swim up bar (from which had the dangerous choice of not having to pay for drinks), and waterfalls that added a layer of natural sounding ambiance to the tranquility of the location. After being awake for what was now close to 30 hours, it was like a little slice of heaven.

 

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We went to a delicious multiple course seafood dinner, at a restaurant situated directly over the water. Course after course of seafood in a variety of different forms, from raw, to smothered in sauces, and finally a medley of seafood situated in a field of rice.
Not much later, we did exactly what a person is supposed to do at a resort: sleep. The rest of the trip gets more exciting, but I felt like a story about resorts needed to be included. Stay tuned for more exciting stories about the rest of the Dominican trip. I hope you enjoyed!

From Paradise, To Riot, and Back To Paradise Again: A Tourists Tale

 

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When my Father, Sister, and I were caught in a traffic jam in the Dominican Republic, the last thing I would have thought was starting this jam would be a riot. I was convinced that it was a farmer herding his cows until I heard gunshots. Then we watched the police run to their cars to flee the massive crowd blocking the middle of the highway. Thats when I knew it was a riot But first let me take a moment to talk about how strange it was to be seeing all of this under the dreamlike influence of insomnia.
Many medical websites say that a lack of sleep affects your mental state, particularly mental stamina, which essentially means that not sleeping makes you a little stupid. So I guess I was feeling a little stupid when we drove up to this riot, as most people would tell you that it would be better to stop the car before reaching the riot. But that wasn’t the way it seemed.
For my parents and myself, it felt more like there was a hazy dreamlike quality to everything happening. Nothing felt entirely real. When we were driving towards the scene of a riot it felt almost natural, even a bit exciting like, “Oh how wonderful! We get to drive through a riot and see what is happening.” Yes, we were being stupid.
So there we were, the tropical sun shining over our heads and igniting the palm trees along the shore next to the highway into a vivid green canopy. My father was intently trying to navigate the confusing Dominican traffic, and my sister was somehow sleeping in the backseat in the in spite of the ridiculous heat. I was craning my head in shotgun, trying to see why traffic was stopping up ahead.
“There sure are a lot of people standing in the middle of the highway.” I said to my dad who was paying more attention to the hectic, weaving, honking traffic in our lane.
“Well hopefully they’ll move so this crazy traffic can clear up.” He said.
Then we heard the gunshots.
“My god!” said my dad, “Are those the police are running away?”
They were. Somehow, nothing else was said about the issue. We just watched the events happening through our windshield with a renewed sense of interest. It was almost cool.
Looking back on how everything seemed on little to no sleep, it felt more like we were watching everything happen on TV than in person. The cops literally fleeing the section of road we were about to drive through felt like a welcome plot twist to the story of our all inclusive resort vacation.
As the police drove away, the traffic began to move again. I guess the riot had gotten rid of the real traffic issue.
We inched forward into the crowd, our Fiat slowly becoming enveloped by the crowds and loud music of a party. People were moving between cars with bottles of rum in their hand. Most of them were smiling, as though the police being chased off was a big joke, and since I was under the stupid effects of insomnia, it kind of felt like a joke to me as well. Everything felt like a joke, even the concrete blocks being thrown over the highway.
In fact, I think one of the oddest sensations I have ever known is sitting in the front seat of that small Fiat with my father driving next to me, and my sister sleeping in the back, while thinking, “this is oddly beautiful, and fun.” as concrete blocks flew soundlessly over the car. At the time they reminded me of doves flying over our car, and smashing into the doors and windshields of the cars next to us.
Somehow, as though we drove through some sort of wormhole portal, we passed through the riot completely unscathed. None of the concrete blocks hit our car. We didn’t encounter any aggression. Not even an angry stare. Our journey simply took us from one end of blissful Dominican Paradise, through a riot, and back into the gorgeous palm tree dotted paradise that led us towards our 5 star resort. It was exactly like a dream.
The first morning of our trip took us from paradise, through a riot, and back to paradise in a matter of minutes. It was almost as though the rioting people didn’t exist, and everything was once again, just a tropical paradise.

Columbus’s First Fort: The oldest Fort in America

 

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At midnight on the last day of 2014, my Father, Sister, and I boarded a plane for Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. It almost felt like I was escaping something, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it might be. Maybe it was a part of myself which had become locked away during the habitual schedule of work and school? Or maybe it was just cold weather? Either way, I felt like I was trying to leave something behind.
We stumbled off the plane at 4 in the morning January 1st 2015. The air in Santo Domingo was warm and thick. Coming from cold and dry weather, it felt like we were wading through warm air on our way to the rental office. Toting our bags out of the automatic front doors, we left the airport for the freedom of the Dominican Republic, the sky slowly lightening from night to morning behind us.We then picked up our beige, scraped up, sort of smelly, Fiat, with an awful transmition, and was covered under as much insurance as the company was willing to offer. Then, we turned onto the most dangerous highway in the Caribbean during the aftermath of one of the drunkest holidays in the world, a sense of moderately extreme danger looming just over the horizon.
Driving down the two lane highway, the ocean was gently lapping against a beach on our left as we drove, the sun slowly approaching the horizon behind us. The scene would have been very relaxing, if it weren’t for the locals racing by us in the passing lane, laying on their horns as they went, and flickering their lights. I would later find out that these wasn’t a personal insults directed at us for our slow and careful driving, only that they were making sure we knew not to change lanes at the moment they were passing. Kinda makes sense when you think about driving down the most dangerous road in a region, on the most hung-over morning of the New Year.
The Zona Colonial is located at the beginning of Santo Domingo, and almost impossible t find without using Google Maps. We rolled onto a promising looking street, parked behind a tourism police car (seemed safe enough), and got out to check out what was behind this massive wall with a small, slightly ajar, black door. It was the oldest fort in the Americas.

 

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The original Fort of Christopher Columbus is a squat, medieval styled, castle of a building. We were able to explore the entire building without another person around. We had the place to ourselves. Walking through a maze of small rooms, dimly lit by narrow window slots. Making our way up spiraling staircases to the top of the fort, the whole of Zona Colonial stretched out below us.
From the top, we could see snow white storks circling over the river down below, an earthy brown body of water bordered by lush green foliage. There was a massive cruise ship docked at the mouth of the river. Down below us, Tourism Police were doing drills in the main square. I realized that this had probably been happening at the fort for the last several hundred years.
For a moment, I no longer thought about my feelings of escape. We were in a country thousands of miles away from my life in the United States. I took a deep breath, and felt the sun on my face, clearing the fog of my mind. We then went for breakfast at one of the locals café, drinking freshly squeezed pineapple juice, and coffee right from the source. Everything felt so oddly tranquil, which is strange, because every trip I take usually begins with a rocky start. What I didn’t know at the time, was that I was enjoying the calm before the storm.

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Just a few hours, we would be witnessing a third world riot first hand, complete with gunshots, police fleeing, and concrete bricks being hurled over a highway. Life went from paradise, to chaos, and then back to paradise in the span of ten minutes. Check out the next article this Sunday for the full story. Thanks for reading!

Backpacking Through The Social Desert of The Dominican Republic: With Some Pictures

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The Dominican Republic is an exciting destination for those who want to step outside of the traditional backpacker destination. Sweeping mountains vistas speckled with palm and fruit trees, and sprawling powder sand beaches and salsa music. But it is also a social desert for backpackers.
At one point I was reading a book in the main square of the town Jarabacoa, enjoying the people watching, sunshine, and mountains. A German girl appeared almost as though from nowhere, and asked in an almost desperate tone of voice if I spoke any English. She had several piercings, a buzzcut, and was wearing a black tanktop with calf high pants.
After a few moments of talking, she told me the profound statement of, “I want to travel alone as a backpacker, but I don’t want to be alone while I’m traveling”. Her statement was profound in that it applied so much to how lonely things could get in the Dominican, but also captured the reason of why the Dominican was such an interesting place to travel, because other than meeting a few locals here and there, you were completely alone. Every English speaking person was like an oasis in the desert, and made you appreciate everyone you met like a drink of water.

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Over the course of 11 days, I traveled to different cities across the beautiful island, staying in places that ranged from elegant, with darkly stained doors that opened to balconies that overlooked the ocean, to quaint little hotel rooms with a lightbulb hanging from the ceiling on a string, and a highway of ants moving across the floor between the bed and bathroom. I guess some would call that the full experience. Over the
For the next few weeks, I will be posting different pictures and stories of the trip twice a week. Please comment or like one of the articles if it stirs you enough to say something, and I will be sure to reply!