A Weekend In The Dominican Republic

August 9, 2018

This journey took a lot from my core values. I had vowed eight years ago to boycott the DR (If you’re not familiar, click here), but with new circumstances I made the choice to go the first weekend of August to go see my cousin whom I have not seen for over twelve years. She has two sons now, married, and living her best life. Her second son was only three months old, and because I’ve already made a promise, I intended to keep it. With prior biases, I had to prep myself to actually enjoy this trip. I took a bus (Caribe Tours) to Santo Domingo, we departed an hour late, the coach I was in was, unfortunately, not clean to my liking; seats were dusty (for someone who can get sinus infections so easily this was a wrong decision). It took us five or six hours to get to the border after three checking points, one at Le Commissariat de Malpasse, second before the Jimaní border, third at the Jimaní border, and a final checkpoint five minutes after the Jimaní border. At this point I was already annoyed; the attitudes of those who worked at the border and those who are trying to get one over your head. By this time my phone had died, and all I remember was that I needed to get a ticket once I reach Santo Domingo to Santiago.

Reaching Santo Domingo around 7:00 PM, I quickly rushed to the information booth and purchased my ticket to Santiago, only 300 pesos. At this point, I was sleep deprived and reached Santiago at god knows at what time. To my surprise, once I finally found a place to charge my phone, I was not supposed to get a ticket to Santiago, I repeat, I fucked up. Abort mission! My stomach turned for the worst, I felt my heart dropped and quickly got on the phone with my cousin’s husband trying to fix the situation. I will admit I cried. It was the first time in my solo traveling that I felt unsafe. I was told that I was lucky that I wasn’t robbed that night. Fifteen minutes later, I was saved, well I felt as if my worries were lifted off my shoulders. My cousin’s brother in law came to my rescue because he lived not too far from where I was. I was able to lay my head on a bed for what felt like four hours and woke up at 5:00 AM to get ready for the next bus trip.

This bus was different from what I’ve expected, it was slightly similar to taptaps in Haiti but not as colorful; nevertheless, it was colorful in conversations. Did I feel unsafe, unfortunately, yes, only because I wasn’t sure if I would miss my stop and that I did not know the language. Las Terrenas is far. It’s beautiful in nature, it’s quite, and yes it also reminds me of Haiti. At this point I’ve made up my mind that I needed to return that Sunday, seeing injustice in front of me without being able to say something where they would understand me made it frustrating.

I found myself on another bus ride back to Santiago trying to find another bus company going to Dajabón. The night prior, we called Caribe Tours because that was where I had my ticket and they confirmed that they had a bus that was not yet full for that Sunday; well that was untrue, once I reached their station thanks to Uber, the teller with an attitude told me they were full. Thank god for this gentleman who so happened to speak English who translated and accompanied me to a different bus station to catch a taxi to Expreso.

Onward to Dajabón! Finally we made it, three hours and maybe thirty minutes, we then walked to the Dominican Republic’s consulate to get my exit stamp, to my knowledge there was an exit fee of 20USD with the U.S. passport and more with a visa, I was not given a reason on why I had to pay an exit fee when I paid an entry fee of 10USD. I had to be harsh/or rude to get by because if you don’t, you may be scammed (I’ve been told and based on how everyone acted proved so). The walk to the Haitian side is only ten minutes (I walk fast so it may have been shorter), that was an extra 7USD fee if you did not have that green paper you’ve received from immigration.                                                Between Dajabón &Wanament 

Sleep deprived, hungry, and thirsty, I had it bad. Now I had to wait another hour for my ride. This part wasn’t that bad, because one thing I love is to listen to the older generation talks about Haiti in the time of 1973 and now. We laughed, and they were welcoming. Until my companion showed-up where he had an earful from them because he took too long, they told him to feed me as soon as possible because all they could offer me was a bottle of water and three small suk sou bonbon (no, it’s not the song, I was confused when the young man asked me if I wanted it).

From Ouanaminthe/Wanament, we drove back to Cap-Haitien to fill the car then bought food with water then onward to Port-au-Prince. We made it home at 1:30 AM on Monday. This was an adventure that I will not repeat this way again, I will instead fly.

Overall, This was not a great experience that I expected, would I do it again, yes as long as I’m with someone who knows the country and speaks the language I may be okay to going back. Would I recommend it, to be honest, it doesn’t matter if I do or not because people will still go, it’s simple, go with caution and be aware of your surroundings. Don’t leave yourself open for opportunities.

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