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