Wednesday, December 28, 2005

GOOD NEWS

Well, this is great news for some, particularly tourists. Todays issue of dr1.com reports that the exchange rate has increased. It is currently $1 dollar to $35 pesos, which is the highest it's been in 12 months. What does this mean? (in case you're a novice traveller) It means that you get more product/service for your buck!! So, you can bring home more souvenirs or stay an extra night at the apartments or buy a round of drinks for everyone at the Sports bar. Oh yeah, you can enjoy the company of more buggarones if you're so inclined!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

MAJOR LEAGUE DREAMS


If you've payed any attention when in the Dominican Republic you've noticed how baseball dominates the sports culture. Many guys you meet will tell you of their current, or past, exploits on the diamond. I came across the following article and found it interesting enough to share with you.


MAJOR LEAGUE DREAMS
Everybody has the dream. The prospect of untold riches is affecting the way Dominican players are signed and scouted like never before.
These days, baseball generates money more easily than just about any other industry in the Dominican Republic, whose top exports are sugar, cofee, tobacco, rum, merengue and ball players, not necessarily in that order.
In 2003, there were 860 foreign-born players signed to professional contracts by major league clubs.
Of that number, an astounding 55 percent were from this tiny island.
The dream is money. The major leagues have always been a way out of poverty here, but now it is more so than ever. With players like Ramirez make $20 million per year and other top name Dominican players with huge contracts; Sammy Sosa, Moises Alou, Miguel Tajada and others.
Many Dominican players spend their winters at home. So, their wealth can be seen by youngsters still trying to make it.
The players in the Dominican Republic are free agents. For now, at least, they are'nt subject to baseball's amateur draft. When a talented player comes along, it's open season for scouts, agents and the buscadores(or bird dogs) who act as go-betweens and collect finders fees when they deliver a young player to a scout or agent.
It is unfortunate that the wealth of the major leagues has not made it into the very place where they get the leagues hottest talent. Recently, a 16-year old shortstop named Bartolo DePaula was signed to a contract. His bonus check was only $8000 dollars. A bargain for the Brewers, a fortune for his family.
In a country where many youngsters are desperately poor, there are still Major League dreams; still scouts and agents who'll get rich trying to make dreams come true.
Click here for a list of Dominican players/profiles in Major League Baseball.
Alicia Patterson has an insightful look at some players and what happens when a dream's defered.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

HAPPY HOLIDAYS


Hope everyone has a great holiday season and may all your "desires" be fulfilled in the coming year!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

RIO BONITO

Here are some more pics from experiences on the river.


































































1. playing at the falls of Bonao-Camellon
2. doing laundry near San Miguel
3. "hanging" out in San Francisco De Macoris
4. chillin' in San Pedro De Macoris

Saturday, December 17, 2005

BY THE RIVERSIDE




"If you got no money, you don't have to worry, people on the river are happy to give." Or so Tina Turner says in the song Proud Mary. She must have travelled to the Dominican Republic at some point.

The rivers of the D.R. are an integral part of rural Dominican life. They are used as a gathering place to socialize; fish; wash clothes, cars and selves.

Some areas even have pavillions for you to relax and have a meal or a drink. With the ever-present musica latina, of course.

The people on the river are truly happy people. They are friendly and accomodating, as long as you don't go looking like royalty and acting as such.

If you'd like a different experience the next time you're in the D.R., be sure to take an excursion to one of the many places where "a river runs through it". Hyacinth would love an afternoon on the river with light finger buffet and riparian entertainment. LOL

My friend Narciso lives in San Miguel, which has a couple of rivers that are frequented by the locals. These are some pics of one of our excursions.




Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

PUERTO PLATA


















It's getting harder to keep up with the latest news as it pertains to tourism in the Dominican Republic. Every time you turn around there is a new this or a new that. The government is starting to issue tourist cards when one enters the country. It is suggested that you keep this card with you during your vacation. The system is somewhat up and running, but won't be in full effect until after the first of the year. It's not clear yet if this is for Dominicans or ALL tourists.

dr1.com also reports a new hotel in Puerto Plata. Since we just talked about hotel options, I thought I would mention this one as well. Puerto Plata is another beautiful place to visit. The beaches are scenic and there is still enough of the area that is unspoiled and inhabited by Dominicans. I always get a fuzzy feeling when I think about the friendliness of the people. They are usually so welcoming and receptive.
















Hotel Playa Naco Resort & Spa is the newest
accomodation in the area. It has 414 rooms right on the beach, five restaurants, four bars, it's all-inclusive and it's very near to the airport in Puerto Plata.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

FIVE STARS

We've discussed hotels and resorts in various parts of the Dominican Republic, but have'nt mentioned very much about accomodations in the capitol city, Santo Domingo.

As in any major city, there is a variety of hotels and resorts. In Santo Domingo there are also apartments one can rent when staying a week or longer. Depending on your taste or your budget, you have choices in different price ranges.

Let's explore what's available in the five star range. First and foremost there is the brand-spanking new Hilton Santo Domingo and Malecon Center!!!!! With all of the amenities and services you would expect in a hotel of this caliber, you also have a first-class conference center and meeting rooms. Quite different for hotels in this area. Hilton is no doubt attempting to lure a different market to the island. That of the profitable convention type. Of course, Joe Blow will be treated like royalty and he will have shopping, dining and entertainment just outside the lobby doors. There is even a movie theatre in the complex. This is truly a unique place. Did I mention it is the largest hotel on the island, and possibly in the caribbean?














Also in the neighborhood (the malecon is on the waterfront) is the Jaragua, the Hotel Santo Domingo, the Intercontinental and the Melia Santo Domingo, which has been my favorite.
You may want to check the hotels policy on visitors, either they don't allow them or they access a fee for you to have them.

I have learned to stop paying for services I don't use. So, I pass up on the pools and exercise rooms in favor of using that money to enjoy a longer vacation. The Mercure on the Conde is affordable ($65 and up) and right in the center of the action. They have a wonderful breakfast buffet that you can eat while sitting on the patio (on the Conde). There is also the Venezia Hotel ($32 and up); walking distance to the Conde, close to a nice market and across from Cafe Villars, another noted restaurant with open-air dining. The Venezia allows guests and has great staff.

Of course, Monaga has apartments available, as does the Sports Bar. Options are plentiful. Monagas website also has recommendations on other hotels, etc. So, if you thought you couldn't travel to paradise because it would cost a fortune, think again. See you there!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

DOMINICAN LOVE


















At first glance it may seem as though Dominican men are only looking for one thing: tourist dollars. Whereas many, if not the majority, of the men will take advantage of the opportunity to make, beg for, or steal your cash, some of them are genuinely interested in making friends.

Now, if you hang in certain places you will never see, or get to know, this type of Dominican hombre. Most guys that identify as gay Dominicans don't frequent certain establishments or areas. If you get off the beaten path, or leave the routine, you may be fortunate enough to meet some nice guys.

There is a common assumption among tourists that the guys are all hustlers because that is what one usually sees in the clubs, etc. This is not true at all. It's just that the hustlers/buggarones are very outgoing, to say the least. Look closely and you see the other faces in the crowd.

And there are those who openly display their love for one another. Yes, there are Dominican lovers in the midst of all the madness.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

WHO KNEW?

A few years ago I saw an interesting ad in a magazine and decided to correspond with the company to get further info about their product. In doing so, I had an exciting conversation with the company's namesake. I discovered that he alone was doing all the leg work; the photography, the marketing, everything! And this was in addition to holding down a demanding job. Though he never said what that job was.

Well, a couple of years ago I was boarding a plane in Miami (headed for Santo Domingo) and was approached by a handsome young man who asked me if I could be the same Mr. Washington he had spoken to on the phone about his photography endeavor. After some laughter and chit-chat, he showed me some of his latest handywork and promised to call me at my hotel the next day so he could take me and my friends to dinner.

The next evening we were escorted around town by Jorge and two of his "friends". We had a great time discussing SD and the various nuances of getting what you desire out of your vacation, Dominican politics and social issues. It was our first time eating at Polo Victoria and we were pleasantly surprised. Though our chicken of choice remains Polo Rey's.

Who knew I would actually meet the man in person. It is truly a small world. And the man is a phabulous cook. Thanks for the hospitality Jorge.
Subsequently, he started a website that featured Dominican/Latin/Brazilian models. It appears that it was short-lived, but may re-launch in the future. The following pictures are just a few from his vast collection.

If you still want a taste of the real deal you can check out dominicanboys.com You must be of legal age.




















Thursday, November 24, 2005

SPIRIT AIR


Hola amigos. Just wanted everyone to know that Spirit Air has announced new service to Punta Cana from Florida beginning next month. You may want to keep checking their site for special fares. Punta Cana is a popular resort area. If you don't mind the crowds it's another one of those beautiful places in the D.R. As with most areas of this type, they have great all-inclusive packages at most of the resorts.

All-inclusive means just what it implies. Your hotel fee, taxes, gratuities, meals, beverages (even alcoholic ones) and activities are all included in the price. Several airlines offer vacation packages, which include air/hotel and airport transfers.

Your options are numerous and there's something for everyone. Here are some more scenes to
intice you to vacation in the Dominican Republic.








Tuesday, November 22, 2005

SOSUA BEACH


















Whereas Boca Chica is conveniently located to the capital city of Santo Domingo, there are other beaches of interest on the island. If you have time during your vacation, you may want to consider a day trip or an overnight stay to one of the many beautiful locations in the Dominican Republic. Sosua Beach is one such spot. It is one of the most scenic beaches in the country. It's on the north coast and offers many resorts and villas.

Friday, November 18, 2005

What, No Beach?

















Donde esta la playa? People that visit Santo Domingo for the first time are often surprised to discover that there is no beach inside the city-proper. But, fret not! Boca Chica is just a 25 minute drive away. There are shuttle services available, cabs are reasonable, or maybe you'd like to be adventurous and ride the autobus. However you get there, you will surely have a great time in Boca Chica.

There are a variety of shops and restaurants in the quaint little town. But one doesn't have to leave the beach to eat or get souvenirs. There are vendors/peddlers that frequent the beach and quite a few nice places to chill and have seafood, Italian, caribbean, American, even asian cuisine.

The beach itself is scenic and expansive. It offers affordable hotels and villas, as well as more expensive resorts. Just don't expect to use their facilities when you're on a day trip. Most of them require you to be a guest just to take a whiz. So, be prepared to hold your breath for as long as it takes you to use the public toilet.

I enjoy Boca Chica on Sundays. That's when the locals frequent the beach. After all, that's why I travel. Who wants to see a bunch of tourists. Do be careful though. There's everything from shoeshine boys, the "braid your hair" girls, hookers and the like. It's all part of the experience.
If "no" doesn't get rid of them, try using the word "policia". Usually works like a charm. LOL

Monday, November 07, 2005

Especiales














What a great time to travel. The brisk autumn wind, the first frost (or first snow for some) has one desiring to get to a warmer, more tropical climate. Like the commercial says, "want to get away?"

As mentioned in an earlier blog post, American Airlines has lowered their rates to the Dominican Republic. Better make reservations while the rates are low. And now, to tempt one further, Monaga is offering a special on their great apartments. If you've never stayed with Monaga you will find that apartment dwelling is quite an experience, especially for long vacations.

Also check out the activities going on at the Sports Bar during Thanksgiving weekend. This place is fast becoming the spot to chill.

HOMBRES DOS


Sunday, November 06, 2005