DR-Day two with Rafael

Sunday, April 29th

I had a great experience with Juancho, Tati and Klinia the previous day so I was pretty excited about visiting with Rafael.  And the day didn’t disappoint! 

Rafael arrives at my hotel to pick me up and we are off!  The first order of business is to visit with Rafael’s sister.  Rafael tells me that he needs some gazpacho because he had too much to drink the previous day and his sister has the best!  It was delicious!  It’s actually a three-day holiday in the DR so the entire country is celebrating…and I think the whole country is in our hotel because it was quite the happening place. 

The picture isn’t the best but you get the idea.  The gazpacho made by Rafael’s sister was delicious. This must be the DR version of the Bloody Mary.

After getting our fill of gazpacho we head out on a tour of the city.  Rafael takes me around the city sharing stories about DR history and influences from Spain, Africa and native DR inhabitants.  He seems to have an answer for every one of my questions which I appreciate. 

It is part of the DR to have rain water collection for each house.  You can see the almond tree leaves in the top left corner of the picture.  I will discuss this more in a moment.

There are two infrastructural requirements that seem to be a part of every residence in Puerto Plato and that is rain water collection and back up batteries for when the power goes out.  It is common to lose power so many homes have batteries on their roofs that fill up from the existing power source.  When the power goes out, the home automatically switches over to this battery reserve.  The rain water collection is used to supplement the toilet system and probably other areas of the home.  Another item to note is that in the DR, you don’t flush toilet paper instead you put it in the trash.  Also, you can’t drink the water in the DR so there is a lot of bottled water.   I saw many people transporting the huge bottles of water on their motorcycles.  Somehow I never got a picture of people on the motorcycles to share with you.

It seems to be a common practice in the DR to have some sort of deterrent surrounding the exterior of your property. I saw razor wire and broken glass bottles in cement as the most common.
The DR version of an alley.  Alleys in the states have no sense of nature to them so I found this image fascinating.  However, it also gives you an idea of the infrastructure in the DR. 

After touring around Puerto Plata, we settle down at Rafael’s favorite bar and meet up with one of his former teachers and Carlos, the bar owner.  I’ve had such great luck with DR bars.  I love everything about them….the sense of community and how everyone knows each other, the great “feel” of them and that both bar owners wanted to ensure I had a great experience.  I can only speak for the two bars I visited but it was a great time.   

A little more about Carlos’ bar….it’s an open bar much like the bar Juancho took me to the night before.  The outdoor seating has gravel rock floors and the “ceiling” is from the broad leaf almendras or almond trees.    At some point it started raining and we never moved because we were protected from the rain by the leaves of the almond tree. 

A view from our seats of this great bar that looks across the boulevard towards the ocean that lies on the other side of the trees.
Rafael preparing a perfectly mixed DR Brugal rum and coke/pepsi for me.
Apparently when you order rum in the DR you are presented with the whole bottle.  So we drank it.

After meeting more local people (including some of the Brugal family), good conversation and finishing the bottle of rum, we decide we should stay put for a while and have lunch with Carlos before leaving. 

A typical DR meal. Rice and beans, pollo and tostones.  Tostones, flattened plantains,  are an important dish in the DR.  It was delicious!

Under our almond tree canopy I only had one concern.  The falling nuts.  It sounded like they hit hard!  Carlos saw me keep looking up to identify the source of the noise so he brought me over some of the almonds to try.  Carlos doesn’t know English so he demonstrated that I should eat the fruit surrounding the hard nut shell.  I found that the fruit sort of puckered my mouth.  It was a little bitter with a hint of sweet but the color inside was gorgeous.  He then brought me a dried almond that he opened so I could taste the nut.  It was very reminiscent of raw pecans but a little less bitter.  Rafael explained to me that this isn’t the same almond as what I’m used too.  The nut is elongated and thinner so it doesn’t look like an almond either but it was still tasty.

A picture of a ripe almond fruit, the pink color inside of the fruit and then the dark-colored seed pod where the nut is located.

So how in the world do you end this wonderful day?  With one more drink!

Rafael loves to end his meal with a shot of sambuca that is lit to toast the coffee beans. I don’t love licorice flavor but the toasted coffee beans balance the flavor for me and it was quite tasty!

After this excursion, Rafael wishes me well and I head back to my room for an afternoon siesta before I start the official conference with evening work events.  Farm tours of bananas, rice, dairy and other pictures and blogs to soon follow.

Any incorrect information and misrepresentation of facts is an accident on my part.  Or perhaps I could blame the rum.


5 thoughts on “DR-Day two with Rafael

  1. Thanks, Rafael for show some of our country and customs to our already-loving-unknown-for-me american friend.
    It has been a really shocking experience for me, close to tears, to read so many pretty things about my frrends and country.

      1. Ha, ha, ha. I laugh with this “señor”. People that know me thinks that “señor” is too formal in refering to me.
        But thanks, anyway for answer my heartful comments.

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