Now I’ll tell you about the other side of the Dominican Republic. I’ll go through a few basic things first and then tell you what we’ve been up to. A good monthly salary here in the Dominican Republic is considered to be about 10,000 pesos or $222 USD. You’re lucky if you have your own means of transportation. A car is defiantly and item of luxury but most families would just have a scooter, if anything. As a matter of fact, some people are still getting by atop a horse or donkey. Propane is subsidized by the government because it’s what most people utilize for cooking, excreta. Chicken is a staple protein and it’s a toss-up between plantains and yucca for starches.
Speaking of animals, some of the street vendors butcher livestock right by the BBQ pit; you get the picture. There are loose dogs everywhere and for the most part, they’re surprisingly healthy. I’m covered in bug bites of every kind like I just returned from the rainforest in Ecuador: no-see-ums, ants, mosquitos and I think maybe chiggers too. I carry hydrocortisone around in my pocket. The terrain in the Dominican Republic is mountainous and rugged with fertile valleys. The climate is semitropical with prevailing easterly winds, which is why is so hard to continue on to the Caribbean when on a sailboat.
Things are really cheap here. For instance, ice cream, not exactly the kind from home but close enough, is about $1 while a plate of fried chicken and yucca is only $2. That being said, this is a fantastic place to get work done on your boat such as welding, canvas work, cleaning, varnishing or you name it. We had water, diesel and propane brought out to Pepper and they took our laundry out too. Trent and I filled up an entire grocery cart at La Cienna with produce, groceries and beer for just $85.
Coming from Bahamas and Turks and Caicos where we didn’t eat out or go have drinks at the bar due to it being very expensive, now we’re living large in the Dominican Republic. I’m happy to finally have a variety of fresh produce on Pepper (not just the kind that keeps a long time like cabbage, carrots and potatoes) and Trent’s thrilled stupid about the fried chicken plates and cheap beer. I made bread today but only because the flour got wet in the dinghy last night and I didn’t want to waste it. Such is life! It’s been such a treat not being in the galley so much, while not feeling a tinge of guilt about eating out a little here and there.
We did a real touristy thing yesterday with some friends. Three boats worth of cruisers rented two “jeeps” (one was a Tracker and another was a Montero) and we drove our sailor selves to see the waterfalls. I didn’t expect this expedition to be so organized for a National Park in the Dominican Republic, because everything else just seems like such a free for all, but we were issued tickets and were given 2 guides to lead the way. Lifejackets and helmets were not optional and they certainly came in handy as we blasted down dozens of natural waterslides and crawled across the slippery slopes. What a trip! I think the pictures speak for themselves so I’ll say no more.
Anyways, the Dominicans seem happy with what little they have, nobody appears to be hungry and very few, surprisingly, beg for money. I’ve never spent a significant amount of time in any third world country like I have here in the Dominican Republic. I never really knew how lucky I had it back home in Fredericksburg Texas. We had it all. To be able to go to the grocery store and get everything you need and pretty much know that you weren’t going to get sick from consuming it is such a blessing. I absolutely took those kinds of things for granted. A lot of us cruisers, Trent and I included, had a stomach bug this week. We don’t know if it’s from eating lettuce that was washed in regular tap water at the restaurant, the produce we bought or if it’s just something going around, but it was terrible.
Count your blessings if you live in America. We really do have it good there. Now, if we could only learn to recycle more and waste less…