Thread: Santo Domingo

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  1. #11270
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    Tempoecorto
    Quote Originally Posted by Frannie  [View Original Post]
    The moto concho guys come in for a lot of stick for making left turns in eccentric ways, ...

    Incidentally, when I first came to the US, I was pretty shocked at the way in which vehicles overtook on the inside on multilane highways. In Britain and I think the rest of Europe that would be an absolute no-no that would get you arrested.

    Maybe you are right about the discrimination thing, but it must be a pretty unpleasant experience to go to a country where you are never sure if you can get served in a restaurant.
    1. That moto concho story was sobering. I never saw it from that perspective. I typically see young folks at the traffic intersections running helter skelter and was ascribing the erratic moves to impatience but that security part you alluded to is relevant.

    2. You are right. "passing" parallel on roads of at least 3 lanes is legal here. I discovered when I first came to this country and went for my driving test, once again. Having lived and learned driving in EU, it was curious for me as well where only one lane is marked for passing. Having said that, the thrill of driving at 200 KM + in Germany, Switzerland and Italy is etched deep in memory, which however calls for extreme attention to your surroundings. Speaking from personal experience.

    3. The "Armstrong" experience is remarkable. Indeed many others found it as soldiers on that continent during WWII. Having said that and this is the anniversary year of WWI, Britain has a fairly sad history as a nation on that count despite having imported soldiers from colonies, continental Europe did a lot better even though Nazi Germany was not good either.

  2. #11269
    Quote Originally Posted by Wrx2005  [View Original Post]
    My concern wouldnt be other passengers that much, but the possibility of slick hustlers hanging around bus stations looking for shit to steal.
    I think the bus companies are fully aware of this and have some kind of security presence at bus stations. It is also no doubt the reason why Caribe Tours has introduced a ticket system for picking up bags. Of course there could also be the issue of people claiming to have had bags stolen who never had any bags.

    That is why they will allow passengers to get off at intermediate stops like Navarete or Montellano, but they will not open the baggage compartments except at official stops or bus stations. So if you have large baggage and you want to get off at Navarete, when you get to Santiago you have to bring that baggage inside the bus with you.

    Remember that the Caribe Express group runs the equivalent of UPS and Western Union in the DR with a packet delivery service that utilizes the bus routes, plus a bank, so they are not complete strangers to the idea of security.

    They also offer foreign exchange and today's rate is 43.30 on the US dollar.

    However, I would always keep my passport, cell phone, cash and debit and credit cards on my person within the bus. I have nothing else of any value when I travel.

  3. #11268
    Quote Originally Posted by Manizales911  [View Original Post]
    When I took Caribe Tours from Santo Domingo to Sosua two weeks ago we were given tickets for our luggage. They had different colored tickets for different destinations and the guy handed me the wrong color ticket and I told him about it and his response was "no importa", I got on the bus shaking my head.
    That type of experience and the attitude following, definitely reinforces for me, that one should always maintain responsibility for anything important to them, and not assume someone else is going to look out for their interests / personal effects or that those entrusted will do their job competently. Last year when I used a Metro bus, I did not see any tight security or concern to make sure someone didn't walk off with someone elses bag. People were reaching for bags and walking off. I was a little concerned about my own bag, and watched everything from the window to be sure I didnt see my bag. My concern wouldnt be other passengers that much, but the possibility of slick hustlers hanging around bus stations looking for shit to steal.

  4. #11267
    Quote Originally Posted by Frannie  [View Original Post]
    It was reasonable that she was asked to wait, but when you have situations where there are customers with different needs, like 1) adding more minutes, a quick cash transaction, and 2) choosing a new phone and setting up a contract, a lengthy process possible involving a larger sum of money, it does not make a whole lot of sense for the business to make the former wait in line for the latter, so it is the business model that is the problem.

    I remember I used to buy minutes at the Orange counter in the Tropical Supermercado in Puerto Plata and this process involved two employees, one to ring up the cash and the other to take my phone and add the minutes. It would be frustrating to wait for another customer with some complex transaction only to find that their system for recharges was down today. The solution is automation and I believe Playero now has a self-service machine where customers can add minutes without bothering a customer service representative. If my memory is wrong, then there is certainly a self service machine at the Metro bus terminal across the road.
    Quite frankly, that woman probably wanted more than only adding minutes. Because the rep listened to her briefly and told her to wait instead of directing her to the machine. There are two machines and both were working quite fine that day.

    Like Mr G said, enough locals are just rude like that. A common sense move a typical individual with a certain level of home training could do, is simply acknowledge the person who is next on line, and indicate in some way that they only have a quick transaction, or they just want to ask a quick question. Not bogard the whole line.

    Bottom line, even dominicans / locals have to deal with (and accept) having to make adjustments to some of their behavior and customs in the presence of others / foreigners.

  5. #11266
    Quote Originally Posted by Manizales911  [View Original Post]
    I took the Caribe Tours bus from Santo Domingo to Sosua two weeks ago and it was total chaos getting our bags loaded under and getting on the bus, no sense of a line / queue to be found at all.
    Of course there was chaos, you arent blind. You saw an example of what me and my buddy saw when we attempted to board the CT bus in SD. Instead of the formation of a long line, people formed like a wide mob towards the bus driver and entrance door. With a few anxious passengers going around other people ahead of them so they could get on the bus 1st. In fact, that was my 1st time ever boarding in SD to go back to Charimicos.

    Last year I used Metro and Caribe Tours to go back and forth between Sosua / Charimicos and Santiago. When we boarded in Charimicos it was orderly. When we boarded in Santiago it was orderly. I never got off any of those buses to get snacks. So I never had an opportunity to see any chaotic scene at the snack area in Santiago like I did last week at the exact same stop. Obviously if one doesn't get off the bus, they arent going to see it or have an account of how people may behave there.

  6. #11265
    Quote Originally Posted by Tempoecorto  [View Original Post]

    Having said that, I wish (and it ain't going to happen) the DR does a little better on driving. The honking gives me a heart attack every time as we are not used to it and the moto conchos overtaking from the right. But the value of life is different out there but overall, Vive la difference!
    Well, yes, but I think most people do drive carefully. A lot of the problems stem from the poor condition of the roads, with many potholes, deep drains, and homes and businesses opening directly onto busy roads. A lot of accidents seem to involve poorly maintained heavy goods vehicles, and then I am sure that alcohol-impaired driving is a significant factor in accidents. Throw some pretty atrocious weather at times into the mix, along with wet roads slippery with spilled oil and leaves and overloaded bikes and cars and there is a lot of potential for accidents.

    The moto concho guys come in for a lot of stick for making left turns in eccentric ways, but a guy who I knew who had just bought a motor bike a few days earlier was very seriously injured when he stopped to make a left turn and waited in the middle of the road in Cabarete and was hit by a dump truck that obviously was not paying attention, at least not paying attention to him. The moto conchos at all costs avoid stopping and waiting in the middle of the road to make a left turn with very good reason, I would say.

    Incidentally, when I first came to the US, I was pretty shocked at the way in which vehicles overtook on the inside on multilane highways. In Britain and I think the rest of Europe that would be an absolute no-no that would get you arrested.

    If you are driving in the DR in a heavily populated area, you need to be very, very careful and watch everything in your field of vision.

    People have said that there are no speed limits in the DR. This is not true, but it is true that they are rarely enforced due to a general lack of resources. For example on the Samana Highway from Santo Domingo to Nagua, the maximum speed limit is 50 mph (80 kph), and you will see some signs, but probably no police cars or radar traps. I think you exceed the speed limit at your own risk, but the road does carry a certain amount of local traffic and I really wouldn't want to hit a child on a bicycle going at 70 mph, even if they were at fault.

    Maybe you are right about the discrimination thing, but it must be a pretty unpleasant experience to go to a country where you are never sure if you can get served in a restaurant. That was one of the reasons so many talented American jazz musicians emigrated to Europe in the 1930's and Louis Armstrong was greeted at the train station in Copenhagen in 1933 by ten thousand people throwing flowers, a distinct contrast to touring in the southern USA where even using the bathroom could be a problem.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZvqvNYJmC4

  7. #11264
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    Tempoecorto
    Quote Originally Posted by Frannie  [View Original Post]
    That tends to be the case anywhere where a restaurant is selling fresh foods.
    Excellent way of ordering in the DR. Your way.

    Your story reminded me of Japanese eating places. Of course there is no question of having it in any other languages but nothing is as fresh as Japanes seafood. The eating houses have their daily stuff. Written typically in their calligraphy, stuck to the wall or on a string. In addition, a knowledgeable person gets to know the chef and asks about what is available. One improvises while eating. Ordering a bit of this and a bit of that and ends up with a fantastic meal. My experience of course is second hand without the language, visiting such places with locals but that is how you get to know the real country rather than the touristy menu cards with pictures or fake food in the window so one can point at that.

  8. #11263
    Your life is your choice never complain.

    Quote Originally Posted by Frannie  [View Original Post]
    That tends to be the case anywhere where a restaurant is selling fresh foods. Obviously you cannot reprint a whole photographed and laminated menu if pineapples are not available today, or the fishing boat broke down, or they had not caught a certain type of fish, or the restaurant is out of shrimps. Alternatively you can just have a simple typed sheet that you print out daily so that it is always updated, but probably no pictures for the language-challenged.

    I often drink juices, so I will just ask first what they have available, because they never have everything listed. For the food too, I will often just ask what they have first instead of referring to the menu. "Do you have shrimps? No, OK, so lets go with pork chops. How about some papa puree, yes? And let's have the steamed vegetables too. No side salad. And bring me a glass of lemonade and a bottle of water and some garlic bread. And when I have eaten that I will have a cup of cafe con leche. OK?..

  9. #11262
    Quote Originally Posted by Manizales911  [View Original Post]
    When I took Caribe Tours from Santo Domingo to Sosua two weeks ago we were given tickets for our luggage. They had different colored tickets for different destinations and the guy handed me the wrong color ticket and I told him about it and his response was "no importa", I got on the bus shaking my head.
    Thanks Mani, it's been over a year since I took Carib tours it's usually metro. What did your friend think of the DR?

  10. #11261
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    Manizales911
    Quote Originally Posted by MrGogo  [View Original Post]
    I think people who live there, are accustomed to the bullshit so its easy for them to overlook it, whereas someone who isn't used to the bullshit might call it more accurately. I agree with you about the busses as I have taken both Carib tours and metro about 20 times each, never had a problem. But I have never been given a ticket for my luggage. They have three compartments for luggage, one for Sosua, one for Santiago, and one for Puerto plata. So they don't open that compartment unless they are at that stop.

    I have seen on multiple occasions motochonchos make left hand turns from the right lane without even looking. In SD the cars blow the horns for no reasons. There is no speed limit anywhere. Traffic lights aren't always obeyed. I would call this organized driving.

    In the line with 50 people I was at the end and the line wasn't moving. In fact no one was at the ticket counter except the two Dominicans bullshitting around.

    I've heard the medical treatment is good and cheap so no beef there.
    When I took Caribe Tours from Santo Domingo to Sosua two weeks ago we were given tickets for our luggage. They had different colored tickets for different destinations and the guy handed me the wrong color ticket and I told him about it and his response was "no importa", I got on the bus shaking my head.

  11. #11260
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    Tempoecorto
    Quote Originally Posted by Frannie  [View Original Post]
    I think what we are talking about here is that some members of this board are being discriminated against for one of the following reasons:

    1. Race or nationality.
    2. Identified as or suspected to be a sex tourist.
    3. Not a good Spanish speaker.
    I would think that the first two are unlikely to be the reasons, unless you are speaking of reverse discrimination which I would not know about. The third is a strong possibility and the fourth one which you have not added, is personal bias. Some have a balanced view as we see here with some and some others have a tendency to look at the world with their jaundiced eyes or, never having seen anything beyond their state in the US, are ill equipped.

    Having said that, I wish (and it ain't going to happen) the DR does a little better on driving. The honking gives me a heart attack every time as we are not used to it and the moto conchos overtaking from the right. But the value of life is different out there but overall, Vive la difference!

  12. #11259
    Quote Originally Posted by MrEnternational  [View Original Post]
    I have been to several restaurants in the DR where they give me a menu and the first 3 options I choose they do not even have. They also have beverages listed that they don't have. It would be easier if they just told me what they DO have instead of handing me a damn menu full of shit that they don't have and me getting my mouth all ready for something that is not available. Of course I have walked out of those places as well. But like the man said, it is a trade off that I am willing to make.
    That tends to be the case anywhere where a restaurant is selling fresh foods. Obviously you cannot reprint a whole photographed and laminated menu if pineapples are not available today, or the fishing boat broke down, or they had not caught a certain type of fish, or the restaurant is out of shrimps. Alternatively you can just have a simple typed sheet that you print out daily so that it is always updated, but probably no pictures for the language-challenged.

    I often drink juices, so I will just ask first what they have available, because they never have everything listed. For the food too, I will often just ask what they have first instead of referring to the menu. "Do you have shrimps? No, OK, so lets go with pork chops. How about some papa puree, yes? And let's have the steamed vegetables too. No side salad. And bring me a glass of lemonade and a bottle of water and some garlic bread. And when I have eaten that I will have a cup of cafe con leche. OK?

    Personally I liked the kind of menu I saw in Greece in the 60's. Al restaurants had the same menu.

    There were about a hundred dishes listed on the sheet in 4 columns, Greek in Greek script, English, German, French, with a blank column next to each item for the price. The restaurants would just mark a price next to the items that were available and leave blank the items that were not available, so typically you might have ten out of a hundred dishes actually available, but the upside was that it was correctly translated in a number of languages and you could see at a glance what they had. It would not be a bad idea if DR restaurants adopted this system, so you could have Spanish, English, German, French, Russian, and Italian all on the same page and know what was available today.

    However the DR just takes a bit of getting used to, but on the whole the food is pretty good.

  13. #11258
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    Mr Enternational
    Quote Originally Posted by Frannie  [View Original Post]
    So it is not just the DR where slow or inefficient service is an issue. I would not object so much if Popeye's was honest, and said, "Sir, we have spicy chicken breasts on the menu, but to be honest we don't sell many, and we will have to get one out of the freezer, defrost it, and then fry it for you. Would you prefer to order something else, that we can serve you quicker?" But of course the corporation they work for teaches them to lie and pretend that the item is so popular that they are always out of it! At least that is my hypothesis.
    I have been to several restaurants in the DR where they give me a menu and the first 3 options I choose they do not even have. They also have beverages listed that they don't have. It would be easier if they just told me what they DO have instead of handing me a damn menu full of shit that they don't have and me getting my mouth all ready for something that is not available. Of course I have walked out of those places as well. But like the man said, it is a trade off that I am willing to make.

  14. #11257
    Quote Originally Posted by Wrx2005  [View Original Post]
    Let me put it in this perspective for you. Thanks for sharing.
    Not at all. Sharing information is the whole point of this board.

  15. #11256
    Quote Originally Posted by GrownMan1  [View Original Post]
    Costumer service is not a prior in DR. I tell all me friends that off the rip. I don't know how many times I walked out of a store or restaurant from bad service. Its like they think you have all the time in the world. I have learned when I order something to ask for my check as soon as I get my food.
    Well, could you give a list of a few of the restaurants where you have walked out because you could not get served? Perhaps we could arrange an ISG boycott of those restaurants that refused to serve you?

    And which stores or businesses are ignoring you?

    I have never experienced that in the DR, though I remember one time walking out of a restaurant in England as I was tired of waiting to be served, and it is particularly a problem in bars in England, or it was when I was younger, and also in some stores. Several years ago on one occasion I did almost walk out of Rocky's restaurant in Sosua having ordered ribs, which is supposed to be a specialty of the house. The order took about an hour to fill and the ribs were OK. I think the excuse was that the chef was sick or something.

    Not so long ago in Jacksonville, Florida, I went to a fast food outlet called Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen that sells fried chicken. I ordered from the menu a single spicy chicken breast with biscuit and a side order of red beans and rice, and had to wait about 20 minutes, because, the sales clerk told me, a large order had just taken all the spicy chicken breasts. I eventually got served, though the chicken breast seemed slightly underdone.

    The next time I went back and gave the same order and got the same story, with the very same excuse from a different sales clerk. I waited, but somewhat irritated. The third and last time I went there, I placed the same order, and got the same old same old response and had to wait even longer. Eventually I asked for my money back--yes, they make you pay before you get your food--and the manager made me the massively generous offer of two free chicken wings if I would wait a bit longer while they went outside and killed a chicken, or whatever they do. I can't remember how it ended, but I have not been back there since as I cannot be bothered dealing with them any more and the chicken is usually all squishy and undercooked inside.

    So it is not just the DR where slow or inefficient service is an issue. I would not object so much if Popeye's was honest, and said, "Sir, we have spicy chicken breasts on the menu, but to be honest we don't sell many, and we will have to get one out of the freezer, defrost it, and then fry it for you. Would you prefer to order something else, that we can serve you quicker?" But of course the corporation they work for teaches them to lie and pretend that the item is so popular that they are always out of it! At least that is my hypothesis.

    Usually in stores in the DR in my experience there is a line-up of three or four people to serve you and no customers. Ditto at the post office. Ditto at Pappaterra. Some places have a "take a ticket" system to get served, like Viva cell phone in Puerto Plata so that everyone gets seen in turn. Gas station, check. Cooking gas station, check. Pharmacy, check. Internet cafe, check. Barbershop, check. Massage parlors, check. Stationery store, check. Home furnishings store, check. Ice cream parlor, check. Bus station ticket office, check. Hotels, check. Haitian souvenir vendors, very attentive. Shoe repair guy, check. Colmados, check.

    I can't recall a single business where I could not get service, and I lived in the DR continuously for more than two years.

    Always get seen in the Emergency Room at Clinica Hernandez in Puerto Plata or behind Hotel Europa in a couple of minutes at most. You do have to wait in turn for lab work at the Clinica Hernandez at certain times of day, yes. Never have to wait long for dentist appointments as they usually run on time. Buses always leave right on time.

    As I said before, it is a sad reflection of Dominican business culture if some potential customers are discriminated against because of some kind of prejudice, because it does not have to be that way, and the end result is that potential visitors get a skewed perspective on Dominican culture.

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