Wednesday, 22 October 2003
|1453 - Dominican trip, day 1|
I'm writing this from my room in the hotel Occidental El Embajador, in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. It's been interesting, so far...
The trip down was long. I drove to a hotel in Minneapolis Monday evening, since my flight left Tuesday at 6 AM. Got up at 3, caught the airplane, had no major problems, got to Newark at 11:15. Had to catch a bus to the Port Authority bus terminal on 42nd Street, then another to JFK. (%$%$^@%#$^%^ cheap package airfare on impossibly short notice.) Made it to JFK at 1:45, just ahead of the suggested 1:55 arrival time for my 4:55 flight. Sat in the terminal for the next couple of hours. The flight from JFK to Santo Domingo was on an A300/600, a fairly recent aircraft, and was quite empty: there was almost nobody in the center section at all, and nobody next to me. (It's a 2-4-2 arrangement; I had the A seat, next to a window.) Somewhat turbulent, and the seat belt sign was on for most of the flight. Had dinner, an undistinguished arroz con pollo (chicken with rice).
When I got to Santo Domingo, clearing immigration and customs was fast and easy. The biggest headache was the $10 tourist visa I had to buy and fill out before I got to the immigration counter. The reseller who invited me here had a taxi meet me at baggage claim, and I rode to the hotel in a late-model Toyota Corolla that looked a lot like vakkotaur's with two exceptions: automatic transmission, and a big CRISTO ES REAL sticker across the windshield. The driver spoke no English, and while I can pronounce Spanish words without mangling them too badly, I don't speak the language beyond about 30 essential words. I managed to get to the hotel anyway. After dealing with 481 emails that had stacked up since Monday evening, I went to bed.
I got up this morning, showered, and had a room service breakfast. Upon checking out the exchange rate the previous night (1 US$ = 35 RD$/DOP (the abbreviation for Dominican pesos appears to vary) or so), the room service rates didn't look bad at all. For RD$264, I got eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, cold cuts and cheese, orange juice, fruit cocktail, coffee, and milk. It wasn't bad, and I didn't need to wrangle with finding food. When that was done, I finally spoke to the reseller here, and discovered that he wasn't going to make the meeting, but he'd send an associate.
I got dressed, packed up the Powerbook, and met the guy in the lobby. Got into his car, a little Skoda, and drove to the customer site. He warned me not to be scared about how people drove. I wasn't; it was somewhat more unruly than the average city traffic, but anyone who can drive comfortably in Philadelphia will adapt quickly. I was happy that I wasn't driving, though.
After the meeting (which went well), we went for lunch at an Outback. The menu was in Spanish, and they had only a limited selection (due to import problems, the waitress said), but the food was good. We talked for an hour or so about the state of the world from our differing viewpoints, and especially the state of baseball (which is the national sport here). Most Dominicans wanted a Boston-Chicago Series so they could watch Sammy Sosa and Pedro Martinez square off.
I came back to the hotel so I could write a trip report to my boss. I dunno what I'll do for the rest of the day, but a siesta seems in order.
current mood: tired