Sunday, January 9, 2011

Santo Domingo

We were supposed to spend 6 days in the Dominican Republic - 3 days sitting in the sun on the famed shores of La Romana, Bayahibe, and 3 days in Santo Domingo and Juan Dolio for the wedding festivities. Because of the snow storm in the Eastern part of the US, we had only one full day in the DR, which day also happened to be New Year's Eve.

We started off the day with a leisurely walk on the beach, and spotted some fishermen nearby:

Later, we decided to take a trip to the Zona Colonial of Santo Domingo one of the earliest Spanish settlements in the New World. It is easy to imagine how it was back then - it is remarkably well-preserved.  Aided by our elementary Spanish, and later, an English speaking guide, we made our way around the very old capital.

Parque Colon. With the large statute of Columbus keeping watch over the domino players, pigeons, hawkers and tourists.

Catedral Primada de America. The oldest Cathedral in operation in the Western Hemisphere (from 1514, est.)

Fortaleza Ozama, the oldest colonial military edifice in the New World.

Las Damas, the first paved street in the Americas.

Walking around the Zona Colonial was very pleasant. It was late December but the weather was comfortable (around 22 degrees), the air crisp and there were no tricksters, stray dogs and other elements you would often find in other old (touristy) cities. You could sense some excitement from the warm and friendly faces that walked passed; it was New Year's Eve, and people were looking forward to the evening's festivities, devoted almost entirely to the lovely Merengue.

Our own New Year's Eve was also delightful. JR's parents had a beach house with a fantastic beachfront, and it was merry making until the wee hours of the morning.