Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Rest of the Story

The picture of the statue was taken on an "adventure" outing that I took Tara, Paige, and Hope on while we were in the Dominican Republic. On our vacation, I considered it my duty (being my father's son) to seek out all possible maps and interesting destinations in the local area. Being on a budget, I ruled out 98% of those options. One trip that intrigued me was a walking/driving tour of the local city, ending with a cable-car ride to a national park nearby. Since it rained for a few hours every day of our trip, it was hard to choose a day for this tour, but I gave in and booked it on our second-to-last day even though it was starting to rain again.
I hired a tour guide who spoke English, and off we went. I could only talk Tara and Paige and Hope into joining me. I can't say that I blame the others...especially considering the name of our guide. His name guessed it....EDDIE. (You would think I'd learned my lesson by now.) Here he is:

I have to admit, I was not only looking for family entertainment at this point - I was looking for photographic opportunities. The trip paid off, as far as photos, but it was at the risk of straining family relationships. The girls were none-too-pleased as I dragged them up and down rainy streets and alleys. (You've seen some of the pictures already - it was worth it....right??) All the while our new Dominican version of Eddie is telling us totally useless information and spouting off about what an expert he is. (Just like being home in Haiti.) My favorite moment was when we got out of the van to see the historic fort guarding the bay/port of Puerto Plata. (Keep in mind this is actually a very important city historically, as the first place Christopher Columbus touched ground in the "New World". He named this port Puerto Plata - Silver Port - after the shimmering seas he found there.)

I asked Eddie to tell me about the fort. He said "It was built in 1567". I asked him what the purpose was, and why the port needed protection.

His answer: "Yes, it is very old. It has been here for a long time. Very important."

(I of course had read all the tourism/travel guides and was well-versed in the history of the area already. I learned that the fort was to protect Spains shipping interests from pirates who frequented the waters around the island of Hispanola.)

Eddie apparently knows nothing of all of that - or considered it a waste of time to engage in history lessons. Maybe it was because we were standing out in the rain.

He kept trying to talk me out of the cable-car ride, as it was raining and cloudy on the mountain. The girls were in agreement with him. I, however, could not pass up the opportunity to see the rainforest and Jesus statue at the top (and get our money's worth), or ride a cable-car through the clouds pictured below:

Here we are looking back over the city of Puerto Plata and the surrounding forest...(the girls were not impressed):

Here is the shelter we stood under after the downpour on the mountaintop started....the rainforest was beautiful and amazing, the statue was very impressive even in the clouds, I got a few nice pictures, but still - the girls were not impressed. (I should mention that it was about 45 degrees in the rain up there - frigid temperatures compared to what we're used to now. I thought it was great. The girls, of course, did not.)

We looked down over the Dominican village and saw that the homes were constructed very much like those in Haiti, mostly cement blocks and tin roofs, but with a lot more wood/lumber. The girls were not impressed.

Here is Tara faking a smile on the way back down, and Paige showing her true dismay at what I put them through:

Can you see how impressed she was with the whole experience? Even the Dominican woman in the picture wondered what was wrong with us. We eventually warmed up and then stopped at Burger King on the way home. This may have been the highlight of the tour - at least the girls were finally distracted from plotting my demise.

I'll post my other pictures from the tour can be the judge of whether the tour was worth it or not. I say yes.

The girls, still, are not impressed.