After about a week in Boca Chica, it was time to move a bit farther down the coast. That had been part of the original plan. Roughly, I had figured a week or two in the capitol, two weeks in Boca Chica, and maybe two weeks in Juan Dolio. All three cities are in close proximity; I had no plans of traipsing around the country by myself with 25 kilos of luggage.
I believe I mentioned earlier that I had spent too much time in Santo Domingo. Should have cut that in half. From there, it was on to the next stop. The first day or two was OK in Boca Chica, but it turned out to be something totally unexpected. I have decided to not write about it in detail until I get back to California…something about processing it all and looking at it from a distance. Although I doubt that will temper my feelings. I am not about to change my position on sex-tourism. Check back in about three weeks for further details.
Juan Dolio was the next place to go. I had researched it a little before leaving and had found this awesome looking hippie hotel, with very affordable rates. I did try to call before I took the twenty minute taxi ride down there, but couldn’t get through. So I arrived at the front entrance and walked in, assuming there would be a room for the night.
|Possibly Juan's Front Gate|
Since arriving, I have found out that the really busy tourist season begins at the end of November, and until then there is no problem finding accommodation. A few weeks from now, and I’d be competing with all the Italians and Canadians, and French, and maybe some Americans, that spend three to six months a year down here. Especially the Italians.
Everywhere I went in Boca Chica and in Juan Dolio, I ran across business after business – restaurants, coffee shops, and hotels, owned and operated by Italians. It was when I stopped by the only travel agent in town, (Italian – here for 35 years), that I found out how it had all started. Apparently, back in the days of Trujillo, Italian engineers and other professionals were brought in to work on whatever it was they worked on. And then some just stayed, and others came to visit, and I guess the weather here beats Rome in the winter.
But back to the Hippie Hotel. As soon as I walked it I was instantly transported to Berkeley, California, circa 1968. Indian bedspreads on raised seating areas, Indian-themed paintings and Ohms on the walls, hanging baubles – the only thing missing was incense. It felt instantly comfortable. And it didn’t look like there were many guests.
I was shown to a great little room that had even had a tiny kitchen across one wall. Yes, it was a bit the worse for wear, and could have used a good scrubbing and a new paint job, but what can I say? I was back in my late teens and ready to pull out the tarot cards.
|Early Morning Viejo J. Dolio|
Dumping my bags, and heaving a big sigh of relief noting that there were no hookers in the ground level hippie common room, I took off for a walk around the town.
Not quite reaching the category of town, it was even smaller than Boca Chica. It’s not like one could spend days on end wandering around a new section of the place. Basically, it’s just one road and you can walk the entire tourist area in less than fifteen minutes. After that, there really isn’t anything.
Every day I was there, I passed in front of leftover traces of Spanish construction. Those walls that most likely surrounded a residence are still standing. I never did find out who, exactly, Juan Dolio was, and will research that later if I ever can get an internet connection for more than a few minutes.
(Yes, my connectivity problems continue. It seems that it actually may be my laptop. I have downloaded new driver software and done a million other things, and my computer says everything is just fine. Except that available Wi-Fi connections rarely show up.)
The beach at Juan Dolio is very pleasant at 7AM. Finally, I was able to walk on the sand and look for seashells, while listening to the small waves crash. At that time in the morning it’s serene and quiet with only the clean-up crews picking up all the garbage that had been left from the day before. I think a few garbage cans along the beach might help.
Like with everyplace I seem to go here, I always think, great, I will hang out here until it’s time to return. But then a few days in I start to see how that is not how it’s going to be. Juan Dolio wasn’t nearly as bad as Boca Chica, but it was enough bad to bother me. And I really did like the hippie hotel, but it had some things going on that I couldn’t ignore.
However, the guys who run it were fantastic. It’s a rather large, rambling, sort-of falling apart place, and there is no way that it shouldn’t have a larger staff to take care of things. Basically, it’s only two men who do everything, and a third who does the all-night shift.
The Italian woman, who has owned the place for thirty some-odd years, wasn’t in the country when I arrived. She has several charity organizations that she runs in India. Something to do with girls’ education. It was one of the reasons I had wanted to come to the hotel. She sounded like quite an interesting lady. It wasn’t until a few days later that I found out she spends five months a year in India, and only comes back for the tourist season in Juan Dolio. So she leaves her tiny staff to run everything. I didn’t really mind taking out my own garbage, or going downstairs to get more toilet paper, or not having my room cleaned the entire week I was there. But I did find it concerning that someone would turn their entire business over to others and not provide adequate help, not to mention very little compensation. I no longer have any desire to meet the owner.
As I sat there one day, I realized it was time again to either get a flight back and cut my trip short, or find another place. Punta Cana, a place I would never consider going, was only a three hour bus ride. That was something I did not want o undertake, but I figured I might have to; especially when I found out I couldn’t change my return ticket. But first, I needed to get to a bank to get more money.
There is nothing in Juan Dolio – no post office, no bank, no real supermarket, no local market. As everyone told me, you have to go to San Pedro. But there was a bank in Nuevo (new) Juan Dolio. From the beach in Viejo (old) Juan Dolio, I could see the expanse of tall structures farther along the shoreline. So I hopped on a gua-gua, (mini-bus), and headed on down there.
This was my first bus ride here and I loved it. People jammed in, sweating, bundles of goods down the middle of the aisle, and happy and friendly drivers and fare collectors. A real taste of this country. A few minutes later, I got dropped off on the road into the New J.Dolio, and walked to the bank.
|Bird Nests-entrance from below|
After that, I walked farther down the street until I came to a larger supermarket than what was in Old J. Dolio. I got a few things and then asked the sales people if they knew of an economical hotel in the area. The pointed the way and I was off.
Walking down the wide street that runs parallel to the beach I nearly stopped in my tracks. (except that would have been stupid in the oppressive heat and humidity.) I gazed out on a street with massive condos on the right, restaurants on the left, with a meridian strip of palm trees and plants. No trace of 500 year old structures here. What was so freaky was that it looked exactly like parts of Phu Mi Hung, the section of Ho Chi Minh City where I had lived for three years.
Once I got to the hotel, I was shown quite a luxurious room, with a huge balcony. I negotiated the price down to about $3 more a night than I was paying at the hippie palace. When I returned to the 60’s hotel, I hated telling the guys that I would be leaving the next day, but they understood.
I’m in the new place now, it’s fine, but I wish I would stop using the mind-set of I only have a week and a half until I can leave. What has happened to me? What has happened to this journey? Since I have no other option, I remind myself that I am more than warm and that I better soak it all up, because who knows when I’ll get back to a tropical climate again?