Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: Oct 2017
I spent a week here in beautiful DR and mostly relaxed poolside, but I managed to squeeze in some time for sightseeing.
Los Tres Ojos was a must-see, and if you like spelunking and climbing up and down stairs like I do, then this is for you. I arrived between tour buses, so I had the place nearly to myself. A set of four lakes, three of them inside a limestone cavern, are connected by stairs and pathways. Foliage is lush and the air is moist. It’s a beautiful place for photos, meandering, or just taking in nature. A ‘tour guide’ who attached himself to a nearby husband and wife, periodically tried to get me to join his ‘tour group’, so he could extract money out of me too. Fat chance… we’ll call him “Try-it-again-Sam”.
The Zona Colonial is the part of Santo Domingo that contains many historic buildings and to see it all, you need to walk it all. My first stop was the Catedral Primada de América, the oldest Christian Church in the Americas that began construction in 1521, although it’s reported that Diego Columbus, son of the famous Christopher, placed the first stone in 1514. If it’s raining, I suggest getting the headset and listening to the tour, otherwise a peek around is sufficient. The Alcázar de Colón is another place to walk around or tour inside on a rainy day. The building used to be the residence of Diego Columbus and now is turned into a museum.
One thing that always makes me smile is how every island in the Caribbean wants a piece of the Columbus family. He is officially buried in Seville, Spain, but in a lot of my travels to the Caribbean, I’ve heard tell that Columbus was buried here and there, then moved, and moved again. Santo Domingo is one place where people still believe he is buried, and there is a large monument to mark his resting place: the Faro a Colón, Columbus’ Lighthouse. It’s nice they are giving so much love to the guy who brought conquerors to the new world. Love a little misplaced, I’d say, considering what happened to the native peoples of the Americas after that.
As I always say, travel is all about learning, and no matter how small a place you visit, there are sometimes very big stories there to uncover.
Some travel tips to beware of here in DR:
- do not drink the tap water, don’t even brush your teeth with it
- everyone wants to ‘help’ you, for a price
- crime is an issue and kidnappings happen, so have the hotel call you a reputable taxi to get around
Interested in visiting Dominican Republic, click here.