Cons:Tricksters, Beggars, Filth, Sleaze
The brochure propaganda is truly astonishing. This is a land of grinding poverty, misery, tricksters, and corruption. Think about it. What would you expect from an island that shares itself with Haiti. We in Miami read weekly news reports of dead Dominicans washing up on our shores, suffocating in container ships, and trying to smuggle themselves into Miami inside the wheel wells of aircraft, sometimes dropping from the sky to their death. These people are even so desperate to leave their country that they drown trying to escape into Puerto Rico.
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Yes, Arthur Frommer likes it because it is one of the "Cheapest Places On Earth," but why bother when you have truly wonderful, inexpensive places on earth such as Ecuador, Bali, Turkey, Peru, Poland, Fiji, and Thailand with highly visible, exotic culture, friendly locals, and fabulous sights. Santo Domingo offers none of this.
Even if you make yourself look like a poor European backpacker, you will be continually harassed by deformed beggars and tricksters if you try to walk anywhere. It is one of the world's poorest countries with a 30% unemployment rate, a huge amount of aggressive prostitutes, and plenty of Aids to go around. If someone is still foolish enough to go there for cheap thrills, at least they are lucky that Dominicana Airlines is out of business. It was banned from landing in the U.S., always 10 to 12 hours late leaving from Miami, and finally gave up trying to fly. Now the masochists can fly there on American Airlines.
Several years ago a teacher colleague of my wife's had a true Dominican nightmare. Her husband and his partner sold and installed computers and business machines in a hotel and when ready to leave, the owner refused to pay them because that's the way business is often done there. When the two men protested, the husband died mysteriously, and his partner was put in jail until he could bribe his way out. The body was moldering in the tropical heat until it was infested with maggots while my wife's friend had to pay thousands of dollars to get it out of the country and back to Miami. The US Embassy was absolutely no help. The country is lawless and only functions on bribes and corruption.
The only decent beach in the area is Boca Chica, which is very crowded with local residents on the weekends. Santo Domingo has more prostitute shacks than any other place you will ever visit. Watch out for the prostitutes in the discos, and make sure your drinks don't end up with a little something extra in them to knock you out and get you rolled. This is a place where single guys should not walk on the street at night unless they want to be badgered.
What can you see in Santo Domingo? Look for Sammy Sosa's house downtown on Avenida George Washington. Plaza Colon has a sixteenth-century cathedral. You will see American fast food outlets - boring. Street vendors sell Haitian paintings and future Salvation Army or Goodwill items. You can buy imitation Cuban cigars and amber, but the settings are unattractive. In the evening you can dance to merengue and other Latin music. Be careful what you eat or you can end up very sick if you are not taking one Doxycycline to prevent traveler's stomach problems.
If you go to Santo Domingo, be careful, and definitely don't bring home a souvenir that will kill you.
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