A vacation, at last! After 10 weeks of work, we have two days off to celebrate All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days (although I prefer to think of it as extra days to celebrate Deah’s Birthday). Tom is with the volleyball team in Venezuela for our tri-annual CAISSA tournament. Sue has gone to Florida to visit her sister and her mom, and I am going to Santo Domingo with my friend Nicole.
Nicole and three of her colleagues from the UN and I all drove to Santo Domingo together. The traffic getting out of Petionville/ Port-au-Prince was horrible, but we were able to cruise right through the border because we had diplomatic privileges, which extend to everyone in the car, so I didn’t have to go through the border hassle or pay the exit tax (which I have always maintained is a big fraud anyway). Before we knew it, we were in Santo Domingo and Nicole and I found our hotel, the Sofitel Nicolas de Ovando.
On Saturday Nicole and I got up early, jogged around the Zona Colonia, and ate a huge breakfast. The Colonial Zone is where Columbus built the first settlement on the island. His brother was the first governor of the area, and Columbus’ son lived there also. We saw the Cathedral Primera de las Americas, the first Catholic Church built in the Western Hemisphere. We walked along the Conde, went to an amber museum (amber and laramar are two of the Dominican’s major gemstones) and had a guide show us a few other sites. On Saturday evening our friends Lauren, John, Grace, and Conrad flew over from Port-au-Prince and we all went out to dinner in the Colonial Zone at Pat’e Palo, a restaurant which I would definitely recommend. Then we wandered around and went to various outdoor bars and clubs, listening to salsa music, Dominican music, and Cuban music.
On Sunday Nicole and I went jogging around the Zone again and went to breakfast. There we ran into the Griegs, two friends of ours from the Embassy in Haiti (see, everyone leaves and goes to the DR). We chatted with them for a while, then Nicole and I got a taxi to Boca Chica, a beach town about 20 miles away from the city. On the way over it rained but it appeared the storm was heading into Santo Domingo, not towards the beach. We made it out to the beach around 2 and slept in the sun all afternoon. What a relaxing afternoon. Later, we walked up and down the beach and visited all the beach bars and shops.
On Monday I visited the international school to meet with some of their teachers about curriculum. I stayed the night with one, and arrived at the bus station the next day to return to Haiti. Unfortunately, the bus was full and I had to get another taxi and haul ass over to a different bus station. That bus, too, was full, but they ordered another one. After a two and a half hour wait, we finally left-so late that we got to the border dangerously close to closing time, so they basically just waved us through.
In November I attended the Marine Ball, a great chance to dress up and enjoy some dinner, some dancing, and some drinking with friends! I accompanied my dear friend Micah to the ball this year. My favorite part? Watching the Marines cut a giant cake with a sword.