A trip to the Dominican Republic would not be complete without making the journey to the capital city of Santo Domingo, located on the South-Central coast of the island. Over the span of approximately 14 hours, our Global Navigators experienced quite a bit of what the colonial city has to offer, plus a few special moments.
Ten things to do in Santo Domingo:
1. Get there early—Our bus departed at 6:30 am to beat the heat, and the traffic. Students wasted no time entertaining themselves for the whole 2.5 hour ride.
2. Feed the pigeons in Parque Duarte---with a couple of pesos you can buy little bags of corn to feed the birds in the park. Friendly fowl for some, “flying rats” for others, the pigeons provided us with entertainment and just the right amount of terror.
3. See the first Catholic Church of the Americas ---Another thing the city boasts is impressive colonial architecture. Our student Cat captured this awesome picture of a typical horse-drawn carriage in front of the church that was constructed in 1523.
4.Tour local shops and art museums ---this adorable and free art museum created the perfect background for our group photos.
5. Buy souvenirs ---Because tourism makes up the better part of 40% of the economy in the DR, there is no shortage of shops and knick-knacks.
6. Eat yummy ice cream --– If you heard that Santiago was hot, add about 10 degrees to that and multiply it by tall buildings and less trees. Students enjoyed their daily dose of ice cream in a local ice cream shop with a huge variety of interesting flavors like Mango with condensed milk, avocado with dulce de leche, strawberry and Nutella, coconut with Nutella, and passion fruit with condensed milk.
7. Explore “El Conde” ---This famous thoroughfare is the oldest commercial street in the city. Now a pedestrian-only street, it is one of the most popular shopping streets for Dominicans and tourists alike. From cafes, to art, people selling their wares, to artists and street dogs, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
8. Celebrate David's 17th birthday—It was a serendipitous day for David, who turned 17 the day of our capital trip. Francina (pictured) helped to sneak a cake in the guagua (bus) to surprise David after lunch. We learned that Dominicans traditionally smear icing on your face when it's your birthday!
9. Appreciate underground caves—Las Cuveas Los Tres Ojos felt like descending into a secret water world underneath the city. These fresh-water pools, housed in massive limestone caves used to be home to the Tainos who occupied the island before Christopher Columbus' arrival. Some years ago, the government began to prohibit the public from entering the waters and this area is now considered a national park!
10. SHOP -–We ended our day with an hour of one of American's favorite past-times: shopping. Check out the palm trees inside the mall! Some students had fun seeing familiar brands, though a few students focused exclusively on visiting stores they'd never heard of before.
As you can see, we had a super packed and fun day!
By the time we got back to Santiago at 8:30pm, we were wiped out. Luckily for us, the next day was a day off. When they get home this weekend, ask your Global Navigator what their favorite part of the day was!