It's an easy place to navigate because the monument is always in sight. It is significantly cheaper than Las Galeras. A meal in Santiago for the four of us would be about 15 usd, including soda or beer, while at the beach it would have easily cost us 30-40 without drinks. On a budget Santiago is the place to be. And except for the lobby of our hotel, which had a good mix of tourists, missionaries, and Dominicans, I did not see any other travelers in all of the city walking we did over the past day.
A must see here is the folklore museum in a ramshackle brightly painted wooden house that is probably about 300 years old.
The price of admission is $1.50. Inside is an incredibly eclectic collection of carnival masks, found object art, religious shrines, and a vintage collection of everyday objects from daily Dominican life.
I felt like was in my own house with all those odd collections. I liked seeing the bohemian side of the DR.
A more traditional tourist attraction is the monument which can be seen from just about any point in the city. It represents the country's final independence from Spain. On our first night we trooped up there, and it is really quite a walk up the increasingly inclining streets and then the huge set of marble steps to get up to the monument. When we got to the top we were disappointed to learn that the exhibits and the viewing platform were closed, for reasons we couldn't understand it was something about lights we think. Well, then word light was the only thing we could understand when the guard was trying to explain it to us.
So we walked back down to the hotel for the night where we ate an excellent dinner in the hotel for very cheap. While it was only bowls of chicken vegetable soup, it was the best damn soup we have had since the outstanding soups of Peru.
Took a nice hot shower in the shower of death.
If you have never taken a shower under a shower head that is heated with electricity, well, you are in for a nerve racking experience. Even though it is perfectly safe, that is if you don't touch the darn thing, you still feel nervous. The one in my room was also rigged up with a plastic bag. A nice touch that lent a pleasant burning plastic smell to it as it was heating up. I kept expecting electrified water to come pouring out, saturating me in a constant jolt of electricity. While this is very common in Latin America, it is still hard to get used to.
My alarm this morning was a rooster, something I forgot to expect in the city.
Since the monument was closed yesterday Maya and I decided to make the trek up there again. The boys weren't interested and decided to look for cigars instead.
We had street food for breakfast, cheese empanadas, croquetas, and fresh pineapple.
On the way to the monument we did a little shopping. The kids both wanted these hilarious t-shirts. For sure I paid too much, 250 pesos, or about $6. Yeah, it's what the seller asked for it, and no I didn't bargain. Sure, I could have haggled the price down to 3 or 4 bucks. But here's what I am more prone to think nowadays ...that the two bucks I could have saved means a lot less to my bottom line than it does to his. That two bucks could mean a new pair of shoes for his daughter while it is the price for a cup of coffee for me. Here's a grown man who sells t shirts on the street for a living and I just don't always feel right about haggling for a few bucks. Back in the day it would be a matter of principal to not pay full price. But these days I just can't bring myself to deny a guy a few extra dollars.
"I heart DR".
Back to the monument. Great view, nice mural, and an English speaking guide at the top.
The first family of the Dominican republic.
The end of slavery.
Local market scene as interpreted by a painter with a certain obsession.
Shadows in the lobby.
Two girls race to the top.
Sliding down the railings
More carnival costumes and masks
Back at the hotel, we packed up our gear and ventured out to muddle our way to Moncion. We would be flying solo for this one, as our guidebook does not have any information on the part of the country we are going to. In many years of travel experience through 17 countries we have never been to a place totally unreferenced in our guidebook. Loving life as we fall off the unbeaten track and really into the nowhere land.