Friday, July 17, 2015

Art Hill Film Series

The Saint Louis Art Museum had a film series on Art Hill and on this particular day they were showing Jaws. Heck yeah. I'm embarrassed to report that I don't think I'd seen that movie before but I got that problem all fixed up. The Seagos and Angela were all in attendance.

It was an awfully humid day. I was sweating just sitting still in the dark.

Dirty Windows

So the apartment only has windows that face a windowless brick building maybe 30 feet away. And it's on the 4th floor. So I thought walking around in my undies when I'm home would be fine and no one would see me. I was mostly right.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Strolling Around Downtown

Back in St. Louis, we've been taking lots of walks around our new Downtown neighborhood. The great little Citygarden green space gets especially popular on hot summer nights. Kids have lots of fun in these awesomely colorful fountains.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Checking Out Santo Domingo

This was it: our last full day in the Dominican Republic. We decided that the history and touristy sites of the capital city Santo Domingo sounded too cool to pass up. Plus I think we'd all had enough time in the water by this point in our trip.

We pulled the same trick as yesterday, telling our tour guide to pick us up in front of a nearby well known resort. Our bus was unfortunately much more normal than this one.

Our guide had us stop to take a peek of the Chavón River. Our guide listed off several movies that included scenes that were shot here including Apocalypse NowRambo: First Blood Part II, and Jurassic Park.

The local shoe shop.

One of our gripes about the tour was the crazy amount of time they made us spend in gift shops. Like hours.

Taking pictures of souvenirs is so much better than buying them.

Our first stop was at this baseball training camp. I've read a bit about these places and they sound a lot like baseball sweat shops, with young kids quitting school to try to strike gold in the MLB. Here's an article about it.

We got a little tour of Los Tres Ojos (The Three Eyes) at the Parque Mirador Del Este.

The "eyes" are underground lakes.

We passed this street with lots of big water tanks, power washer looking generator things, and dudes sitting around on plastic chairs in the shade waiting for customers. I finally figured out that these were car washes.

The Columbus Lighthouse (Faro a Colón) in the distance there is bright enough to be seen from Puerto Rico.

The National Palace

Even Santo Domingo has a Chinatown. There are a lot of Chinese people to go around.

Cristopher Columbus' brother Bartholomew founded Santo Domingo in 1496, and according to Wikipedia it's "the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas, and was the first seat of the Spanish colonial rule in the New World."

We went on a guided tour of Alcázar de Colón, which was the residence of Columbus' son, Diego. Christopher was promised all sorts of things for finding the New World, including money, titles, and power over the lands he found. Not long after his discoveries he lost favor with the Spanish Crown and so lost many of his privileges. His son Diego's life seems to have largely consisted of trying to reclaim said lost goodies that he felt were rightfully his with amounts of success. Diego was named Viceroy of the Indies in 1511.

Fun fact: there are no known contemporary portraits of Christopher Columbus which means this painting, and any other you've ever seen of him, are completely made up.

The Panteon Nacional, where many of the country's heroes are buried. This whole tour of Santo Domingo was supposed to be in English, which was half true. It was in both English and Spanish. Our guide changed languages literally every other sentence. It was hard to listen to because he had to talk so fast that sometimes he would be half way though a sentence before I even realized it was English.

Parque Colon in the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo

Our last stop was the Cathedral of Santa María la Menor, which is the oldest cathedral in the Americas, begun in 1512 and completed in 1540.

The next day we packed up our bags and said goodbye to our condo.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Motorboatin' in the Ocean

Well after two solid days of lounging in the condo's pool we decided to mix it up a little.

Since we took the economic route and rented a condo instead of an all inclusive resort, none of the tour companies knew where the heck we were staying. So we just told them we were staying at the nearest resort and walked over and stood in front of the hotel gates waiting to be picked up. I think that worked rather well.

We picked a nice leisurely pontoon boat cruise tour. You can see mid picture where the workers had to rake an opening through the seaweed mass on the beach so we could get to the boat.

The first part was some snorkeling. I like a good snorkel. This particular area didn't have a whole lot to see but it was still fun playing around with it. It was our friend Kayla's first time snorkeling so that made it more fun.

Next they took us to a "natural swimming pool" which was just ocean that was really shallow. There were other tour groups there as well so we all got into the water and had a little swim party.

This is that seaweed stuff up close.

There was so much floating around that wearing it on our heads seemed like the thing to do. It's not quite as awesome as the Spanish moss in Louisiana, but it'll do.

One interesting thing was this big jug of wine looking liquid with brown bark stuff floating in it that the staff was passing around to the guests. I tried it and was impressed that it had a unique taste. I asked the jovial staff member who poured it what I was drinking and he laughingly replied what I thought was "marijuana!" I figured he was joking and I was annoyed because I really wanted to know. Turns out I just misheard. It's called mamajuana. Wikipedia, hit it! "Mamajuana is a drink from the Dominican Republic that is concocted by allowing rum, red wine, and honey to soak in a bottle with tree bark and herbs. The taste is similar to port wine and the color is a deep red." Boom.

Fun was had and then they returned us to shore.

I'm pretty much over buying things in gift shops but looking around in them is still fun for a brief period of time.

A shot of the condo's pool. The rooms were nice enough but had one little memorable quirk. The water in the Dominican is not drinkable. Fine. There was a big jug water dispenser thing in the kitchen so that was covered. The weird thing was that the water that came out of all of the sinks and even the shower head was salt water! It was so weird. It's like they knew their water sucked so they just gave up and started pumping it straight out of the ocean. All of the bathroom hardware was heavily corroded from the salt.

I think construction in other countries can be pretty interesting. This thing looks like some ancient Mayan ruin or something.

For dinner we at a place called Pastrata that was also walkable from our place. We didn't go to this place I just liked their sign.

Lydia got some sort of tacos.

I had these really really good coconut shrimp.

Fish and chips I want to say.

Boom. Day accomplished.