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Andy and Melissa are sailing around the world on their 48-foot sailboat, Spectacle.

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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Another Unscheduled But Wonderful Stop – The Dominican Republic

Posted by: melissa

And so we find ourselves in the Dominican Republic and liking it to say the least!

On the northern edge of the Caribbean Sea, the Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola.  Haiti is to the west, and the island is basically the only thing shared by the two distinct cultures.  Haitians have French and African roots, speaking a unique Creole language, and Dominicans are of African, Amerindian, and Caucasian descent with a predominantly Hispanic culture. 

The Dominican Republic is far more developed and affluent than its Haitian neighbors, and enjoys far greater political and social stability as well.  Depending on who you ask, there are many reasons for this disparity.  Dominicans have strong opinions regarding Haitians and various stereotypes including work ethic and issues of entitlement, all evidenced by harsh border policies.  But I think the more valid reason lies with the satellite picture of the border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.  It’s clear who has effectively utilized their natural resources, as are the repercussions of not doing just that.

El Malecón is the Ocean Side Road with Restaurants and Beautiful Views of the BayThe northern shore of the Dominican Republic is called the “Amber Coast,” home to the world’s largest amber deposits.  About 130 miles northwest of Santo Domingo, Puerto Plata lies at the base of Mount Isabel de Torres which is topped with a smaller version of Rio’s “The Redeemer.”  Near the old dock, the fort (Fuerte de San Felipe) marks the beginning of El Malecón which is an ocean side street and strand with amazing views and tons of restaurants and shops.  Puerto Plata hosted the windsurfing World Cup in 1988, and for you 80’s music buffs, Falco died in Puerto Plata in 1998 (Rock Me Amadeus!!!).

Christopher Columbus landed in, and named, Puerto Plata (“Port of Silver”).  Impressing Columbus, Puerto Plata’s silver-like appearance is attributed to many different possibilities: a) mist on Mount Isabel de Torres; b) the silver-looking leaves of the native guayaba trees; or, c) the striking color of the water at sunset often likened to the shimmering of a thousand silver coins.  Puerto Plata’s nickname is “La Novia del Atlantico” (The Bride of the Atlantic).

In a nutshell, the Dominican Republic is a very beautiful place … the mountains are lush and tropical, the ocean is Caribbean blue, and the coastline is rocky and picturesque.  The most beautiful part of the Dominican Republic is the people … not only are they physically attractive and prideful of appearance, but they are also friendly, genuine, interesting, and just generally good natured.  You would be hard-pressed to find the sourpuss Dominican.

It’s been hard work sorting out our boat problems but frankly, we’ve been having a ball here in the D.R.!  From previous Caribbean experiences, we knew that Presidente is the undisputed King of Beer – and it is absolutely delicious.  Andy sorted out our Dominican baseball alliances very quickly and provided us with good material for “water cooler” discussions with locals.  We’ve had fresh lobster and shrimp every day, and made new friends at our favorite local restaurants, Polanco and Ponderosa del Mar.

A pleasant surprise has been merengue which is the Dominican’s national music and dance style.  At the average bar, the bad dancers would be borderline fantastic by American Another Rancho Tipico (Merengue Bar) in Nearby MontellanoLa Canita -- The Best Merengue Bar Ever!standards.  Our first day here, we were taken to La Canita, which, at 3:30 on a Wednesday afternoon, was packed with a small crowd of semi-pro dancers, tearing up the dance floor to ear-splitting merengue.  We loved this place – it truly was one of our favorite bars ever.  It is, however, by no means unique – there are “La Canita”-type establishments (“Rancho Tipicos”) to be found more frequently than Starbucks in Seattle.  More Pictures

Happy Independence Day from the Southern Hemisphere

Posted by: melissa

Of course, it’s just a regular day here in Australia!  Nevertheless, being in a colonial country with not only independence from, but a certain amount of historical animosity towards, British colonialism, we can all relate a little!

I’ve been spending a lot less time at my home away from home … the Internet café in Kings Cross.  But I headed over there today to catch up on some Internet stuff and have lunch at a local Mexican restaurant.  I think it’s called Tapatio but I honestly can’t remember.  It’s pretty good … kind of a Chipotle concept, the Subway of burritos basically. 

Walking around the Cross is, to quote Forrest Gump, like a box of chocolates … ya’ nevah know what you’re gonna git.  Not surprisingly, Friday dusk is the best as the party is just getting started.  But today is Saturday, and Saturday mornings are usually bad … everyone’s hung over, coming down, cold, hungry, haggard, and tired.  The highlight of my day in the Cross today was an extremely intoxicated street person who kept yelling nonsense and stopping traffic.  Usually giving the residents a wide berth, the cops showed up and as they wrestled him to the ground to handcuff him and take him away, he started belting out the Star Spangled Banner at the top of his lungs.  He was doing pretty well too, until “and the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air” and then it all just fell apart.  I placed my hand over my heart, and wished myself a very Happy 4th of July!

And because I was so impressed that a drunk homeless guy knew the Star Spangled Banner and the significance of today’s date, I looked up and memorized the Australian national anthem, Advance Australia Fair. 

Australians all let us rejoice
For we are young and free
We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil,
Our home is girt by sea:
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts
Of beauty rich and rare,
In history’s page let every stage
Advance Australia fair,
In joyful strains then let us sing
Advance Australia fair.

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross,
 We’ll toil with hearts and hands,
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands,
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share,
With courage let us all combine
To advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia fair.