Santo Domingo should be avoided.

Posted by jswt | Posted in Dominican Republic - Santo Domingo, General | Posted on 26-12-2012

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So, Santo Domingo in the Domincan Republic sounded nice on paper… You always hear about the nice tropical resorts in DR, but those are in the north. Santo Domingo is in the south, and is a crumbling, poverty stricken, crime ridden far from the gated resorts up north. This city holds a special place for me, as it’s the first place I’ve ever visited where you’re right on the ocean, but cannot swim in the ocean – it’s so cluttered with garbage, pollution, and waves of human excrement that it’s been ruined. Our hotel was right across the street from the beach, which sounds nice, until you see the wall of people hanging out along the beach who are all waiting to eye you up and shake you down as soon as you leave the hotel, and occasionally step over and lean over the cliffs to shit into the ocean — the waterfront is literally their toilet.

The city itself is old, and has cool parts – the very first church in the ‘new world’ is here. It’s just unfortunate that the city itself is unsafe to walk around outside of the central tourist blocks. I’m pretty good at fading into a city and wandering through most neighborhoods without concern, but this city was different – there’s a desperation in the level of poverty here that makes you a target, and you can see it in people’s eyes. The traffic is chaotic, there are huge potholes in all the streets, and any time we left the hotel someone’d come up beside us running basic street level scams – it was tiring, and rather unpleasant overall.

Did manage to get a lot of work done and wrap up a large cloud based video processing/multiencoding service I’ve been banging on, had a few nice dinners with good friends, and did manage to get some reading done by the pool to get some tan to take home to Canada…

One thing I’d wished I’d known at the time: The resorts in the north offer rediculously cheap drop in day/multiday rates – the huge expenses in travel packages all go to the flight. Had we known this sooner, we would have rented a car and gone up to the (supposedly beautiful and quite different) northern part of the island… Filed away for next time.

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