Santiago Touring

Looks like some days are gonna feel like a million. I forgot that this is what is so incredible about travel, especially by yourself. You feel like everything is new, everything is some strange thing that you’ve never seen, heard, smelled before. And I guess that how people see me, too, at least in Santiago. I feel like everyone is staring at me when I’m walking down the street, like, “what the hell are YOU doing here?!”

I have the same question.

After my little nap, I got a map and started exploring, figuring the cathedral would be a safe place to start. I had a few errands that I definitely needed to take care of (yet another re-discovered joy of travel–setting teeny little goals to achieve)–primarily getting some bottled water, cash, bug spray and sunscreen. I’m in the tropics, after all. So I ventured out after reviewing my bank statement, which seemed to imply that I had some cash to pull out. Well, wouldn’t you know that the ONE month out landlord takes the rent out, and that I paid all the rent and haven’t yet been reimbursed from my roommates (which isn’t a knock on them, just life), I’m in DR. By myself. And it ends up appearing that I have about $16 in the account that’s accessible to me. I had some American dollars, which are accepted here it seems for the most part (especially for touristy things), but that was not going to get me very far. I didn’t panic. Because these things happen, and what are you gonna do? Figure it out. But as I was contemplating this, I walked down toward the cathedral and through one of the park areas. I decided I needed to head back to my hotel to figure out what I was going to do in terms of money, and this guy approaches me and says, “you’re American, right?” This is already what has been sort of frustrating being here–I just scream American on vacation. Maybe I should have tried to be less obvious, more “Dominicanized” (haha), but I didn’t. And I guess there aren’t a lot of Americans in Santiago. I initially was pretty hesitant to interact with this guy, but he was actually quite nice, and very professional and polite–he wanted to show me around, and provide some touring information. For a fee, of course, which would honestly not have been a problem if I’d not been already so afraid I was close to being destitute in a foreign country by myself.

Anyway, he actually walked me all around the city for about 2 hours, which was great exercise and really interesting. We saw some gorgeous stuff. The cathedral was first:


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And he told me some small snippets of history, and most importantly, he spoke very clearly. We went to a museum with costumes from the Carnival that happens at the end of February. Here’s one of the great costumes (did you know Oscar de la Renta was Dominican?? I did not):


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Next, we saw a river (Yaque del Norte), with a cool Golden Gate look-alike bridge:

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And a fortress:

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Next was San Cristobal Square, with the Nina, Pinta & Santa Maria ships, and some cool paintings (whatever the complicated history):

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And here are the ships themselves:


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Finally was a view of the city from a statue on a hill:


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And here’s the statue:


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All in all, I feel like and extremely fortuitous and wonderful first day. I got lots of Spanish practice, which it seems this trip is good for, if nothing else. And I’m excited to have some fun and interesting things to share with the Wide Internet World. Plus some time to relax.

Tomorrow’s adventure is to go to the 27 Charcos, which is 27 waterfalls. I’m debating holding off on this until Thursday, and just heading directly to Puerto Plata tomorrow, and chilling on the beach in an area where people won’t look at me like I am a green Martian. I like being in a non-touristy area, but I am not a fan of the gawking. Noooot appreciated, and particularly upsetting to me because I’m alone.

Regardless, I did make it to the store, got my water, bug spray and sunscreen, so I am ready for the beach! I also called my bank and confirmed that I have overdraft money available, which I have to pay a small fee to borrow until transfers come through, but saves my butt. Not having enough money in the correct bank account? Turns out, that’s a first world problem. So far, rules on this trip: it’s never to early to be nice & be gracious and relatively generous (I don’t want to feel used, but I also recognize the position I’m in, relative to other people).

My other goal of this trip is to ride a horse. Kind of lame, I know, but I want to! I have to figure out what my plan is for the rest of the trip, so if you have any ideas, please feel free to shoot me am email!

Much love,
Shannon