I went to the Dominican Republic for the month of February.
Why the Dominican Republic? Well, honestly it's not a place I'd ever thought about much; I'd always wanted to visit Brazil, and Kenya, and New Zealand, for example, much more than the Dominican Republic. (I even went out with a Dominican girl briefly in college.)
But three things: I saw a cheap ticket; it's only a few hours away; and, of course, a Russian girl invited me.
She's married though, and was visiting there with her brother, so it wasn't quite like you're thinking.
As I discussed in the previous entry, the Girlfriend and I are pretty clearly on the rocks. I thought I might go whoring in Boca Chica, the whore capital of the Dominican Republic.
It's a pretty grubby sort of place; the beach is okay, but not nearly as spectacular as others in the DR. It advertises a big coral reef, but of course, like most coral reefs (reeves?) these days, it's pretty much entirely dead.
Its main attraction is its whores; after checking into my hotel, a guy working in the bar there offered to take me down there to the main street.
There's about a half-dozen open air bars there, with tons of whores from the Dominican Republic and Haiti, of all shades, sizes, and ages, but all, or at least most, with silicon titties and oddly-colored hair extensions and long also oddly-colored fake fingernails. My overall impression was of the most stereotypical whore-street you could imagine, like a scene from a 70s blaxploitation movie like Willie Dynamite or The Mack.
There were no pimps in gaudy finery, though: just hard-eyed and scar-faced Dominican men hanging around looking dangerous.
There were a few whores I liked the looks of -- only a few -- but I'm not sure if it's a general fear of AIDS, scalp herpes, gonorrhea of the eyes, etc, or a more specific fear that I'll become a bloated drunken middle-aged whoremonger, but it just didn't appeal to me on that particular occasion, and I went home alone and jacked off in relief.
The beach itself was plagued with people trying to sell stuff and little kids trying to steal stuff. The average person on the beach was old, also. Maybe it was the time of year, but I seem confronted with the Aging Population everywhere I go.
I spent a few days in the capital, which is way more historic than most people realize; it's the first "American" city that ever got settled, back in Columbus days. Nonetheless, it's pretty dirty and run-down sort of place, in general, but a nice enough place to hang out for a few days.
|making an anonymous self-photo is a fine art|
I had a little trouble getting on board with the nightlife, though. There seemed to be two kinds -- a bunch of guys sitting around outside the bottle shop getting drunk on rum, and expensive fancy clubs and lounges where everybody was dressed really nicely. I didn't on quick inspection find any place in the middle.
"You have to watch out for those Russians, man," warned the Haitian guy sitting around outside the little shop. He'd helped me find the apartment I'd rented, so I bought him a beer at the little local shop next door while the room was being prepared. "They're mean."
"Don't I know it," I muttered.
Punta Cana was being over-run with them; there was even a shop run by and for Russians across the street. They were mostly families, though; the adult versions of the 20-somethings I was teaching 10 years ago, now succesfully middle-class with children.
The Russian girl I know and her brother were staying about a fifteen minute walk up the beach at one of the big resorts; I'd rented a very comfortable apartment in the small village area for $50 a night.
Punta Cana has an endless white stretch of lovely beach with sugary sand and lovely rustling palm trees and all that picture-postcard stuff. (Back when there were picture postcards.) Problem being, it's all big resort hotels up there, and most of the tourists don't venture out of the resorts, meaning nightlife is kind of lame.
We had a big night out at a disco in a cave, but in general it was a problem; the guards wouldn't let me on the grounds of their resort hotel, and as Russians, they disliked walking down to the village to meet me. I'd always heard Dominican men were lazy but they were certainly enthusiastic enough about protecting the resort; I actually thought they were going to beat me up one night when I tried to go in there.
I took one "excursion" where I was supposedly going to get to swim with sharks; it turned out to be an embarrassing booze-cruise, with a bunch of fat middle-aged German tourists doing salsa and a few nurse sharks and manta rays in a sort of pen by a reef. Just, embarrassing, especially since I went alone. Not a hot Russian girl in sight.
My favorite place I visited was Las Terrenas, up on the northern side of the island on the Samana Peninsula. It's a former fishing village so it's got pristine natural beauty; it also seems to be something of a retirement community for European baby boomers, especially French, Germans, and Italians. I suppose they're the ones who have held off the more aggressive development, and they're not too annoying, sitting chattering in their little cafes eating croissants.
I found a big, slightly run-down hotel for $25 a night; the Dominican family that ran it sort of seemed to operate it as a hotel only as an afterthought, but they were helpful enough. I spent the days snorkeling (only about half of the coral was dead) and then took a tour to see the whales, which was a cool experience, though I think we were breaking all kind of laws by getting too close to them.
I actually hung around with some backpackers here; three American girls (although one was Malaysian by birth.) They were okay-looking, if not stunning; I see why guys complain about American girls not being feminine, but I personally found it nice that they'd carry their own bags, didn't spend two hours on their makeup, and weren't afraid to wait alone and stuff like that.
The Malaysian made little bones about the fact that she was something of a nympho and was disappointed by the fact that Dominican guys wouldn't have sex with her for free; apparently even the guys charge for their time there.
I thought for a while I was going to have to have sex with her; but fortunately an Italian guy working as a guide there came along and fulfilled that obligation. Whew!
Costs in the Dominican Republic vary greatly -- you can get a hotel from $20 right on up to hundreds of dollars a night. You can get a meal at the cheap places where the Dominicans eat for $3 or $4 -- good, if not particularly sanitry meals of chicken and rice and fried bananas; or you can spend however much you feel like at the European and American restaurants. Same with clubs and bars. There never seemed to be much stuff in the middle; it was all very cheap or rather pricey.
Beer at shops was like $2 or $3 for a one-liter bottle; rum was cheap, of course.
Tours tend to be priced for American and European baby-boomers at $90 a person and up; taxis and stuff are more about how long you feel like arguing about it.
As with a lot of tourist places these days, they tend to look right through the tourists. The dichotomy between the way the tourists live -- swanky resorts and apartments -- versus the way the locals live -- shacks without water or windows -- is most pronounced, so I'm surprised there's not more outright hostility.
There are a good number of sort of annoying scammer / hustler guys, often Haitian; can't say I blame them. The whores mind their business until you'd approach them, I should say.
It seemed to be one of those unfortunate situations -- the whores are for the most part girls who are too used-up or messed-up to get a local boyfriend. I saw a lot of pretty girls working in shops and washing clothes outside shacks; the whores I saw were the usual bunch of ridiculous artificial-everything monstrosities. Finding a decent local girl would probably entail fighting every boy in the village for her; I guess you could give it a shot though. As with Costa Rica, a lot of the young ones I saw who weren't prostitutes seemed to be pregnant.
If you wanted to find a European divorcee in their 50s, male or female, I'd say the Dominican Republic is the place to go. I considered banging the 60-year-old Swiss woman who ran the whale tours and setting myself up as her boy-toy, but, well, you know I'm rusty at my gigolo skills.
So! You know, the Dominican Republic. Not bad! Nice beaches and stuff. It's all bright and sunny and colorful. Liked it. And ... no diarrhea!