I read a lot of trip reports written by tourists who have recently visited the Dominican Republic including Sosua and Cabarete. It’s interesting to see the fresh prospective on things that maybe we take for granted as full time residents.
The SosuaOne compound has seen a lot of activity over the last year. Friends, family, girlfriends, SAM…. and of course Ocean One enjoying the pool and keeping things lively. It was time for a break so we closed up shop last month and headed back up to America for a spell. I decided to take a lot of notes and try to look at N. America with a bit of my gringo Dominican prospective. So here it is, my reverse trip report.
In my view Puerto Plata (POP) airport is the best airport in the Dominican Republic. Security is fast, customs agents are efficient, everyone is extremely friendly and you can literally get from the ticket counter to the gate in under twenty minutes. Disclaimer : Don’t try it and then blame me for missing your flight. If we only had additional flights sitting at those empty gates… oh, and MUCH lower airfare. My r/t ticket cost $500.00 more than flying out of Santiago on the same airline, which is absolutely absurd. But the ease of jumping in a taxi and being at the airport in under 15 minutes was worth the extra cost. Especially considering I was traveling to the airport with extra baggage, Ocean One and SAM…
Side note. Traveling with a service dog :
Go to the glass service doors down by arrivals and ask to see the Agriculture agent - do this BEFORE going to the ticket counter. You need a recent health certificate with vaccination records and a crisp 500 peso note. Doctor Bob in Sosua can provide a new health certificate if your current one is older than 30 days.. They’ll write up a clearance document, stamp it and off you go. The process took less than ten minutes but don’t chance it. Get to the airport early.
Side note. Traveling with Sam
Arrives to the airport early, gets through security without issue and still almost misses her fight. One of the Agents had to go hunt her down and ask her to please come board the airplane.
Driving in America. I am definitely a much better driver thanks to my experiences driving here in the Dominican Republic. My awareness level is up at least ten fold and I make much faster decisions about lane changes and passing on the shoulder. On the negative side, I don’t pay as much attention to speed as I used to. I don’t even know, do we have speed limits signs down here? If I’ve passed one I sure as hell didn’t give it any thought. I am usually more concerned about the dump truck in front of me and the Metro bus driving up my tail pipe than the speedometer. All of this was brought to my attention via the $125.00 citation I received for going 52mph in a 45mph zone on an empty country road in broad daylight. Hopefully the Dominicans never figure out how much extra revenue they can bring in via traffic law enforcement. Surprisingly my 1000 peso “propina” did nothing to sway this officers intent on writing the ticket. While we are on the subject of driving.. I got spoiled here and pretty much forgot that you have to pump own your own damn gas up there. It took a few seconds for that to click in as I sat by the pump like some imbecile waiting for the pump attendant to magically appear.
Transportation in America is a pain in the ass. Taxi’s are expensive and they take forever and a day to show up. Uber which used to by my favorite app seems to be getting worse by the moment. They’ve increased rates, wait times are getting dumb and the drivers have gotten found of canceling rides ten minutes after accepting them. You might hate the Moto’s down here but you sure do miss them when you need to go somewhere fast. I walked out of a restaurant at 8:00pm and noticed a police cruiser sitting across the street. “Four beers in two hours… whats my B.A.C.????” Moto no where to be found … America!
It’s no wonder that we are seeing more and more North Americans going the expat route. The cost of living up there is getting insane and the whole keeping up with Jones mentality is getting ridiculously worse. Here, no one gives a shit about what kind of car you drive, the label on your clothes or what neighborhood you live in. The biggest debates center around Presidente or Presidente Light / Cabarete or Playa Sosua / Moto or Taxi / Playero or Super Pola …. No one down here is interested in the newest Chevy truck that can be leased at only 399.00 per month with only $2,500 down plus dealer fees and..blah,blah,blah…And good luck selling those $200.00 RayBans or hawking your new micro brew for 8 dollars a bottle. In years past i would have been first in line at the Apple store waiting to hand over 1k for the new estiPhone. After living in the DR, I could care less about the newest smart thang. My Dominican cracked screen phone works just fine thank you. The economy seems to be booming but in the same breath people are scared to death that the is bubble about to burst???
I made an effort to convert a lot of my expenses from dollars to pesos, writing down the most noticeable discrepancies. I rounded up to the nearest 50 pesos. That’s another thing, this 4.98 nonsense in the States needs to be stopped. Just round up and tell me it is 5.00 dollars. The penny is the most useless piece of currency on the planet. Imagine the chaos that would ensue if the price of a Presidente was 96 pesos on the beach. They have trouble enough making change on a 1000 peso note for a 800 peso bill.
Prices in America - the dumbest…
Cup of coffee at a coffee shop (premier brew - whatever that is) - 200.00 pesos.
Speeding ticket - 6000.00 pesos
5 gallon jug of filtered water - 750.00 pesos. No joke, picture to prove it —->
Dinner for four - 8000.00 pesos. In comparison, we spent Christmas day on the beach last year. We sat at Dominics the ENTIRE day eating, drinking, partying and being extremely merry. At the end of the day Dominic saw that our tab was 3600 pesos and he immediately started accusing his best employee of inflating the bill. Four big plates of food and we practically drank his bar dry, the bill was absolutely correct or within reason.
Lunch for two at a chain restaurant - 2400 pesos and the food was horrific.
Tall draft beer ( Bud Light none the less, American beer is horrific ) - 350 pesos
Parking downtown for 2hrs - 500 pesos
Parking ticket for exceeding the prepaid 2hrs by six minutes - 1000 pesos
4 mile Uber ride home from the bar (like that happens here). 800 pesos.
Two avocados, the size of our limes - 250 pesos
State Park day pass / access fee - 600 pesos
Ice Cream sundae - 400 pesos
I averaged about 4200.00 pesos per day for living expenses. That was using pretty much the exact same routine that I do here, not balling out and spending cash like a gangsta. It was just running errands, lunch, watching the game at a bar, and an occasional dinner out… etc. In comparison I can comfortably live here with the same routine and spend less than 5000 pesos per week.
On a good note, everything in America is clean. The litter control and recycling is absolutely on point. The effort to educate the public against littering especially at the grade school level has definitely paid off. The first thing I noticed upon returning is how dirty the streets and sidewalks are here. Hopefully that is something we can all help to change.
Television, forget it. We’re not missing a damn thing. I tried to watch the “news” one morning. Its the equivalent of listening to a group of beach vendors argue over a game of dominos. “Tramposo!” I can’t imagine that anyone actually watches that nonsense on CNN or Fox News and comes away better informed. The roundtable discussions are almost as ridiculous as the “hot takes” from the anchors. Someone please dig up Walter Cronkite or put an actual adult in front of the camera. The rest of the programing consists of infomercials for the latest juicer or something related to the Kardashians. (click it, you’ll thank me!) I’ll take telenovelas over that nonsense any day of the week.
So the Sosua One compound sat empty for weeks and thankfully not a single alert from the Arlo cameras (this time). I found myself logging in and staring at the empty pool and casa on a daily basis - homesick! I’ve lived in many places including Canada, six different states in the US, Puerto Rico and the USVI’s. My home in Dominican Republic is by far my favorite. If I could click my fingers and have Lindsey, Katie, Cruz, Diane, Ed and the rest of my family all live here on the same street, there would be zero reason to go to the States. For now, I’ll keep commuting and just pray for Allegiant, Spirit or Jetblue to announce NEW DESTINATIONS FROM PUERTO PLATA….
We are glad to be home, see you on the beach.