samedi 31 janvier 2015

Santo Domingo: the First City of the New World

The only person who is better at getting lost than I am is Christopher Columbus, and Hispaniola is where he literally washed ashore in 1492. Hispaniola is an island divided into two parts: Haiti and the Dominican Republic. I mean, I have no idea why he stayed, but he decided to start a settlement here. Columbus came back the following year and founded the city of La Nueva Isabela in what would be present day Haiti. At least he had good taste in names, hehe... sike. Unfortunately for Columbus, New Izzy got destroyed by a hurricane. He then rebuilt it where Santo Domingo stands today. This makes it the oldest European settlement in the Americas. Santo Domingo became the HQ of all the colonist scumbags-- Hernan Cortes' mission to Mexico launched from here. Anyway, Columbus is trash so I am not gonna give him any more press. He actually never came back, and his son Diego ended up hanging out here... until the pirates came along and got the party started. Santo Domingo has such a wild history! I really enjoyed my visit. The European influence is clear as day but the Caribbean influence is just as prominent, giving the city a really cool vibe. The Zona Colonial of the city itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here are a few pictures of Diego Columbus's house, Alcázar de Colón.

Waiting for an explanation as to why the hell they needed an armored horse on a tropical island.

I really enjoyed the palace even though it was not ballerific enough for me. I'm not a good photographer, but you could actually see the Caribbean Sea through the windows. The house was built in the early 1500s, so it must have been a phenomenal view. I can just imagine someone taking a peek outside and seeing the Black Pearl on the horizon. You know you in trouble! It was like 500 degrees with about 600% humidity the day I came to visit, but the palace offered some cool breezes. That may have just been ghosts, though. 

I am a pretty big fan of pirates and their legendary shenanigans sailing the high seas. One of the coolest things I saw was a map of the island of Tortuga. I didn't know this actually existed, real talk. I always assumed it was just Pirate Urban Legend! Man, I think I'd be an excellent pirate. I don't drink, but I do enjoy hanging out doing hood rat stuff with my friends. Plus, I like wearing stripes, being on boats, and hoarding treasure. I speak Spanish, too! I was born for this.

We kept it moving and visited the first Cathedral of the Americas, Catedral de Santa María la Menor. Somebody said that palm trees were integrated into the design, but all these churches look the same to me, so I don't know if that is true. At least they had AC here. Next, we had a lively lunch and it was beyond delicious. We ended our day visiting the Palacio Nacional. It's too bad that the President does not live there, cause it is a gorgeous building! 

This concludes my posts about the fabulous DR. It was such a fun and friendly place with so much to see and do! I would not hesitate to come back. Besides... why wouldn't you want to come to a place whose airport looks like the Jungle Cruise ride at Disneyland?

Hasta luego!

What happens when I decide to venture out on another tropical vacation? DISASTER. Join me on the next post as I tell y'all about my trip to Cancun.

samedi 10 janvier 2015

Jungle 2 Jungle

I'm not really outdoorsy. I know it has only just begun, but that might be the biggest understatement of the year. Maybe ever? Like, my idea of "being in nature" is eating al fresco. Do you see where I am going with this? To be fair, I dated someone who really loved nature and his enthusiasm led me to entertain the idea of going camping once. Once.  Then we broke up and I realized I was out of my mind. Do you guys realize how bad my skin was at the time?! He would have dumped me on sight. Quelle horreur, indeed, mon amis.

Anyway, my encounter with snow changed that. I really love my planet and I figured it was time to embrace the natural beauty it graced us with. So on this flawless day, I somehow found myself in the Dominican mountains aka Jurassic Park. It was beyond pretty! Prior to this, the only mountain I was interested in was Space Mountain. Progress! I also found out pineapples grow on the ground. Did you guys know that? I was so surprised. Now before you laugh at me, pineapples aren't even on my radar. I had literally never thought about where they came from! It still doesn't sound right. Whatever. I also saw a reptile... presumably looking for it's T- Rex cousin who was hiding in the lush mountain range. 

Thanks, Air BnB.
Later, still inside the jungle, we made our way to a cocoa plantation. My love for chocolate is at an alarming level: Augustus Gloop. Once again, I never paid any mind to how it finds its way into my heart. Cocoa grows on a tree and it looks like a giant almond. That doesn't look like the dark chocolate truffles at the Lindt store, you say-- but hold your horses. Next, you hack this thing open and it looks really fucking gross. I was too busy processing how these nasty white chunks end up being real chocolate and forgot to hear the next steps, but you get the gist. I think they roast them? Who knows. Who cares? How disturbing. 

Don't cry for me, I'm already dead.

After this traumatic ordeal, we ended up at a coffee place. At this point, I shouldn't even have to mention my complete disregard for the minutiae of coffee production. It was a cute little house that was painted tons of colors. If I had to live in the mountains, this would be my ideal situation. It was so adorable! I love vivid colors. I wanted to live in the blue and pink treehaus. Here, I had the most delicious cinnamon coffee to date. 

I loved the coffee so much, I bought a big bag of it to enjoy at home. Dead serious. Please note, I was not a coffee drinker before this. I was under its spell! The coffee package even featured the house itself to remind me of my brief time as a mountaineer. Did I really need 420 grams of cinnamon coffee? No, because I'm American and the metric system means nothing to me. I'm so dumb. N'importe quoi, get off my case!

I still haven't opened it because I forgot how to prepare it and I don't even like coffee. Oops! I'll brew it at some point this year and report back. Sorry, El Chappy! Tomorrow: retracing the steps of original fukkboi Cristobal Colon aka Christopher Columbus in Santo Domingo.