Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Shopping in Puerto Plata

We were all set! We made arrangements with Jiamie on Sunday and reserved him and his van for a Monday morning trip into Puerto Plata - just over an hour drive from Luperon. Bellagio (Kerry and Kathy) and us agreed to meet ashore at 8:30 and Jiamie said he would be waiting for us. Looking forward to this trip to a new bigger city with a local who also speaks English.

Once ashore on Monday though things changed. No Jiamie. No van. A gentleman who I think said his name is Joe who no habla ingles started explaining the situation. We understood ‘Puerto Plata’ - no Jiamie (obvious) - and Jiamie bambino infermo (Jiamie’s baby is sick). So Joe with a regular sedan car was to be our driver for the day. Hmmmmm.

He found a nice guy at the marina who was working on a huge catamaran to interpret. After lots of back and forth we finally relayed the message that we could not go on the trip without a van since we were buying lots and lots of groceries and maybe an outboard or Honda generator or two (just kidding about the two). Joe said ok and asked us to wait a couple minutes. Sure enough in less than 10 minutes he returned with a guagua driver - Jentzy, with his van.

Jentzy also didn’t speak any ingles but what the hey we had our english/spanish dictionaries with us. Jentzy agreed to the same price as Jiamie (1500 pesos or about $45) for the day. How tough could it be? We all piled in and off we went toward Luperon from the marina. Jentzy drove around a couple of side streets, said - un minuto, walked into a store, then back to the van. We drove around a bit more until coming to our friend at the Marina Store. This guy - Joy - fast talked us the other day about all Americanos are his friends, just look at his store, don’t need to buy, etc. Scott bought a box of 25 cigars for $15 and a bottle of rum for $6. Now we were friends forever. Joy quickly interpreted for Jenzty.

Joy said that Jentzy asks if he could have 500 up front for gas. No problem. We told Joy all the places we wanted to get to - computer store, grocery store, outboard motor store, etc. Jentzy said, no problem. After a quick stop at the gas station in town, off we go to Puerto Plata!

Although we never really had a conversation with Jentzy he knew how to show us around town and get us where we wanted to go. First stop was the computer store (needing printer cartridges, cds, etc) and he drove right to it. Puerto Plata is a bustling town compared to Luperon with narrow winding streets and lots of traffic, not necessarily always going in the same direction. Having a driver already seemed like a good idea.

This photo is of the 'highway' between Lupero and Imbert- a road we traveled last week. It looks amazingly like the roads we took on this trip!

Next stop - some coffee and breakfast for Kerry and Kathy who hadn’t eaten yet. Kathy said to Jentzy - ahhhh cafe? Somehow we stopped at a store that was a paper store with cards and wrapping paper and such. Hmm. It was actually a bookstore with very few books. I should have been suspicious when the sign said ‘libreria’ which I thought meant library. Starbucks at Barnes and Nobles it was not. So this time Kathy said - CAFE (louder) and Jentzy said, ‘Ah - ok.’ and took us to a cafe. I wondered if this bookstore was on the tour whether we wanted it or not since Jentzy handed Kathy a business card of the place.

The cafe was very nice where the proprietor spoke english very well and again helped with interpretations and insights into town. Jentzy had a large meal (part of the deal is to also pay for the driver’s meals) of which he gave me a taste of the ‘carne’ - still not sure what meat it was but the proprietor said something about Jentzy ordering a big meal then asked if I wanted goat also. HMM. No gracia! Although my taste was very tasty.

We asked if there was any baseball (beisbol) happening in the summer and found out no professional teams are playing until October. Makes sense. We are determined to find some kind of game to go to. Apparently there was someone playing a game in Luperon last week.

Trying to include Jentzy in the conversation Scott asked him if he was married and if he had any kids. Our cafe friend (can’t remember his name) interpreted and said that Jentzy has two children. Scott asked, and how many wives. Everybody laughed and the answer was one, but the cafe friend said -’but it’s different here’ and dropped the subject. I was tempted to ask - and how many girlfriends? - but chickened out. We still had lots of shopping to do.

Next stop was to the outboard store. Jentzy only had to stop once to clarify directions. We were surprised when we pulled up to a pescaderia (a fish market). Sure enough after a few minuto we were invited into the back room where Jose does his Yamaha outboard business. Kerry was doing the shopping this time so sat in the chair opposite the desk opposite Jose. Other furniture in the room included a single beg (nobody sat down there) and a refrigerator. Kerry looked over the price list and Jose made a couple phone calls. Kerry could have the 15 horse 2-cycle outboard in 20 Dominican days. HMMM! We each took Jose’s card which has pictures of fish on it and Kerry told him he was going to think about it. Ok. Although the price was the best he’d seen.

Well the solar panel place was next to the supermarket so that was the next stop. Kathy and I began filling our baskets while Scott and Kerry walked over to the solar panel store. The store had solar panels in the window but the store had one or two of everything that could have fallen off an electronics truck. The wattage of the panels was too small (only 50) for too much ($600). So no luck there. More research to be done on panels, although on our drive to Puerto Plata Kathy and I saw a billboard advertising them in Santo Domingo.

We grocery shopped at two of the larger stores and got almost everything on our lists. It was about 1:30 p.m. and Jentzy asks, ‘to Luperon?’ No, we say, to lunch - pizza! He took us to the best pizza in town and I believe it. Then adios Puerto Plata and back to Luperon. It had been pouring rain while eating pizza and the streets were swimming with streams of muddy water. By the time we got back to the marina it was almost 4 p.m. After paying Jentzy and saying thank you and goodbye, we had a quick beer at the marina then back to the mother ship with all our purchases.

What a day. I was exhausted from shopping and touring and hadn’t taken one photo! Go figure. It was fun to travel with Bellagio but also work to try to accomplish buying those needed things in a town you don’t know. Next time we just might rent a car and take several days to explore. Santiago and Santo Domingo are on our list and maybe Sammy Sosa’s home town of San Pedro De Marcoris.

Today is a boat day. Lots of rain water collected from the past 2 days so laundry is definitely on the list. The sun has even come out this morning so after breakfast (we got bacon yesterday-we think) I’ll be lining our lifelines with clean clothes.

Until the next ‘adventure’ here’s hoping you’re enjoying your shopping and laundry days.

Scott Observes-
This is the first time I’ve had an intense shot of homesickness. Not the missing of friends and family. . . that’s pretty constant and I deal with it some days better than others. This was just homesick for sweet home Chicago where the buildings are straight and true and the politicians are not. The building trades here depress me. None of the buildings we’ve seen so far in either Luperon or Puerto Plata could have EVER looked good even on the day they were completed. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just too fussy but crooked shingles, drooping roofs, and haphazard brickwork is just getting to me! Maybe it’s because it all looks like I would have built it! All part of the charm I’m sure. Maybe the haphazard building goes back to the fact that you never have to heat these things. As long as you keep the rain out it’s as good as it gets. Good news is that the people are mellow and friendly and mostly eager to help those of us who are language challenged.


LeahC said...

great adventure you two!

that's sad about the building trade...I guess building for function alone and not style.

we miss you two too .... oh and so does Chicago. :-)

deborah said...

With the new "spear tower" coming to chicago, you might actually be enjoying those haphazard buildings. But I agree there's nothing like the skyline of Chicago

Rich P said...

Before you miss Chicago too much, check the baseball scores. The Sox and Cubs BOTH suck! I don't follow the Sox enough to even know their scores, but tonight the Cubs are losing their 3rd straight lopsided game to the Marlins--9-0 in the friggin' 9th. Poor old Lou Pinella just didn't know what he was getting himself into!