Saying goodbye to new friends, the Jacobsens from Tacoma, we made our way starting at 7:30 this morning.
Great memories were made at La Isleta made better by the friends we connected with. We ended the two week stay at La Isleta with another potluck dinner with the Jacobsens.
Gua guas leave every 15-30 minutes from Las Galeras to Samana. The journey takes around 60 minutes and costs about 2$ (90 pesos) per person.
As we approached Samana the other passengers started telling the driver where they wanted to go. Since it seemed like he was accommodating his passengers we told him we needed a minibus to Santiago. He dropped us off on a street in town where there were minibuses loading and unloading. Within five seconds we heard a driver nearby shout "Santiago!", and it was that easy to find a ride.
The van looked like it was about a 12 passenger size, but believe it...that thing had 19 people crammed in it for the trip.
The minibus was actually a decent vehicle mechanically, but midway through the trip the driver and his assistant got out to bang on the rear tires for no apparent reason. We boarded at 9 am and arrived in Santiago at 1 pm, a four hour trip that was around $7.50 (300 pesos) per person. The route takes you about 20 km outside of Nagua, where it then heads southwest into the interior and towards Santiago
Three hours into the ride, near St Francis de Macoris, we stopped at a roadside restaurant that was excellent, clean, and very cheap-$10 fed our whole family.
As we drove into Santiago we could easily locate ourselves on our lp map. When the minibus finally parked I noticed a Linea Junior sign, so I am pretty sure that is the name of the bus company. From our map we determined we were just a few blocks from the Hotel Colonial.
It was an easy walk of about four blocks, although the kids suffered mightily based on the looks on their faces. I get a lovely sense of nostalgia when I huff a heavy pack through a city I have never been to, navigating the streets and saturating my senses with the sights, sounds, and smells of urban life in a developing country. I feel confused and turned around, but I get a real thrill and sense of accomplishment by jumping into it feet first.
Better than arriving at the destination is the bus journey itself. Yeah it was hot, windy, and there was a support bar under the seat that my tailbone ground into for four hours, but I love the sense of not being anywhere. That neutral place between the city I just left and the totally unknown city I am traveling to. Looking out of the bus window, I relish in the sensation of hurtling through the countryside to a place I have never been. But I am not there yet and have just left where I have been, so I am nowhere. The ultimate escape from reality is being nowhere. And I can only get this sense of nowhere in a foreign country, because nowhere has to be really really different from anything I know.
After the tranquility of the beach the buzz and hustle of the city is a welcome atmosphere. The Hotel Colonial is cheap and dumpy, you get exactly what you pay for which is just how I like it!
There is also the Hotel Colonial Deluxe right next door, which may be nicer and probably more expensive.
This signage is posted in the hotel hallway and will make a great photo for Luis' classroom.
We are paying $16 per room, and we definitely need two as they are very small. You can see that Maya is irritated that I am taking her picture. They were pretty tired.
The kids will have their own room tonight.
A place to sleep is all it is. It is very clean and feels safe and secure. This is Luis' favorite thing to do no matter where we go in this wide world.
The view from our room is of a very industrious appliance repair place, or perhaps it is an appliance junkyard, I am not sure.
It's darn hot here, and women are walking with umbrellas to shade themselves from the sun. From my spot on the hotel balcony there is a nice breeze and a great view of the monument.
Plans for tonight include a walk down Calle del Sol and a visit to the monument. We are only staying the one night as we have a nice plan to have a Homestay in Moncion.