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Date: 05 Mar 2015 21:41:48
Title: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic...Hispaniola

18:30:5N 068:22:9W

Thursday 5rd March 2015
Punta Cana Marina, Dominican Republic

The Adventure - Continues
New crew arrive, on schedule David and Ken flew in to Punta Cana airport. We had changed our  port of entry to meet the crew, luckily it was seventy miles closer. But it was much cheaper to fly to this destination. We are moored in a large holiday complex, everything is either brand new, or still being built. It is like a palace compared with anything we have experienced so far. They were very excited that we were coming. Three people were on the end of the harbour entrance to talk us in. The navy had issued a weather warning and they were concerned we may have problems with the Hugh cross winds and swell. Two channels also made the entrance confusing. But with at least ten radio messages from forty minutes out we were talked in unscathed.

Welcoming Committee
Five marina staff, Immigration, Customs, Agriculture Dept., and the Navy (plus two others we were not introduced to) came to meet us, shake hands, relieve us of US $121. It was unanimously decided that we looked like such decent chaps, that they wouldn't trouble us with an inspection. They went on their way after much hand shaking, immigration took our passports to be returned later. Frank the Marina manager translated for us. He took us to the beautiful, air conditioned reception, more like a five star hotel entrance. We left credit card details and had everything was photocopied. Frank offered free transport to and from the airport to meet our crew.

Thatched Roof
The airport buildings are all thatched with palm leaves, which makes them lovely and cool. Ken had already arrived by the time we got there, so we grabbed a cold beer, just to welcome him in the time honoured way, while we waited for David. We were a little concerned that recognition may be a problem, but in the event he saw us and waved as he came out of the buildings.

Exploration
It is a very holiday oriented location, very few locals, the nearest town is forty minutes drive away. Most of the flights are filled with honeymoon couples or families with preschool children. We wanted to explore away from the resort, so hired a car, visiting La Romana and Higuey. La Romana is a large town, surrounded by mile after mile of sugar cane fields. The town itself is dominated by a sugar cane processing plant, as we drove in we had to stop and wait for a long train carrying the cane.

Basilica
Higuey, brought us Miguel, who stepped out, showed us were to park, took us to the Basilica/Cathedral, a concrete castle. Gave us a run down on the history of the town, helped us bypass the crowds of tourists. Took us to, a cigar factory, painting workshop, the old church and the local market. People seemed to know him throughout the town, as he bumped fists on every street. I was amazed at how little food hygiene care they take with the meat, it was butchered and left to hang outside, covered in flies and in the hot sun. We finished our tour, headed out of town, stopped for lunch at a local home made fast food restaurant, and then headed off into the mountains. The contrasting poverty was obvious, people were walking or on horseback...either no saddle or a cloth stuffed with palm fronds. The housing was mostly tumbledown shacks. Many Brahma cross cattle roamed the huge fields, ordinary cattle cannot withstand the heat and pests. As we continued we came to the railway line, and the countryside turned again to sugarcane.

David and Ken are fitting in really well, seem happy with our routines and we are all gelling....well really what isn't there to like in The Life of Riley? Who was Riley anyway?


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