March 12, 2014, second day in the Dominican Republic.

8.39 am

Breakfast done. Two slices of toasted bread with a slice of cheese, a juice and coffee. Not too much, but better than last night dinner (that was nothing). Yesterday lunch was lovely, we must do it again. We are going to Los Patos. With no rush, we are still recovering from the long flight.

10.58 am

On the bus to Barahona. If we get in Los Patos with no issues before night we are lucky. The bus is almost full, we shouldn’t wait longer. Well, we are actually leaving. Great! It should be 2.5 hours to Barahona, then who knows, maybe one hour? We didn’t call the hotelito italiano, but we shouldn’t have any problem finding a room, our hotel in La Capital only had one other guest.

A girl sitting in front of Luca is turning the aircon towards her armit. I saw while she was sitting that her hair was growing at sight speed for the humidity. 500 pesos for two people to Barahona, almost 10 euro. There’s a lot of traffic, they should build some larger roads.

It’s not easy to communicate. Luca in Italian can make himself understood better than me, that I am trying to recover the Spanish I learn some years ago. He also learnt to say “Por favor” and “gracias” and discovered that “escucha” does not mean “scusa”. As the bearded man sitting next to me just pointed out, the fact that the bus left immediately allowed us to retrieve the hour we lost this morning looking for a working cash machine. After trying 3 different ATMs, Luca was getting anxious “And now? What do we do?”. With three different cards, some cash for the emergencies and the possibility to have some money sent with Money Transfer or other means, I am pretty sure we won’t have to sleep under the bridge.

There’s some nice latin music coming from the radio. Someone is singing along.

We drive by villages with one level houses, many with a terraced roof, some with a sloping roof, others with palm branches as roof. Kids are going home after school, light blue shirt and kaki shorts. Better than the kids at La Capital, selling oranges on the pathways.

The radio is not working anymore, so we watch a terrible Chinese movie.

We are in Bani. From a bridge over a dried out river you can see some kids bathing in the little water that is left, near some bags of rubbish that were clearly thrown from this same bridge.

It’s a good thing the Dominican Republic is not too big: we won’t have to do those 8-10 hour long rides on old buses that in Tanzania caused me a headache so often. And the roads are paved (they are about 5cm higher than the roadside, because apparently when they pave a road they don’t bother scratching the old asphalt).

We stopped for lunch. There’s a nice smell of fried food and delicious sauces on the bus now! We only bought a bag of cashews. When I want something to eat I shouldn’t ask Luca, he’s stingier than me! He won’t let me eat anything to save money.

2pm. 3 hours on the road. The Chinese movie is over. Now we are listening to some pop music from an mp3. All songs have a religious theme (God transformed me in his daughter…) or are preceded by a short parable, adapted to modern times: “Story of a pious woman” that called the radio to tell her struggling in earning food for her children, and one person that heard her, called the radio to have some info, sent her food, asking his emplyees to tell the lady that the food was from the “diablo”. But when the woman opened the door and saw all that food, she was happy and grateful. And the delivery man: “aren’t you interested in knowing where this food comes from?”. And she replied: “When God hears our requests…” and from here I didn’t understand what she said. So, I basically missed the most important part of the parable.

There are some palm trees 20 meters high and below them hundreds of different palm trees, only about 1 meter high. And a multitude of broken glass shining in the sun: the rest of the rubbish was burnt, the glass is what has left.

Centro Optico: Fe y Esperenza.

Some villages are prettier than the others: instead of huts with metal sheet roofs, there are wooden or concrete little houses with pretty pastel colors. Every time the bus stops, 3-4 kids approach on their motorbikes, ready to take the travelers to their final destination. Two bags and one large bag on the handlebars, the old lady in the back, and here they go! Two soldiers on their leave with their bags, on the same bike behind the driver, to save money. Probably Luca and I will have to do the same, maybe today.

Almost 3pm. Our bags are already on the gua-gua to Los Patos. They are honest so far. They always asked for the price mentioned on the Lonely Planet or that was told us before, we never had to bargain or fight because we are foreigners.

“Cristo viene ya!”, is written on a tree in front of us. Well, I must say that all these messages I’m reading along the road are starting to give me strength.