Santiago, the heart city. It’s earned that name because of it’s location in the heart of El Cibao. It’s also the second largest city in the Dominican Republic.
Sounds pretty huge, huh? For this country, it is. In American standards, I’d compare it to Wilmington, Delaware. A pretty big city, but no New York. The buildings aren’t very tall but they’re one hundred times prettier than Wilmington. The history in Santiago goes all the way back to 1495 when it was founded & it shows. I loved it.
Elissa, Kristin, & I went this past weekend in honor of Elissa’s birthday. Elissa & I took the bus from Jarabacoa to La Vega & then we took a connecting bus to Santiago. The bus system is super confusing & I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to navigate it on my own! But thankfully, Elissa was there so we didn’t get too mixed up. The bus ride from La Vega to Santiago was interesting for sure. It wasn’t too packed & thank the Lord, it was air conditioned, but it certainly had some interesting passengers. There was this Haitian man who sat closer to us so he could awkwardly stare & the guy next to me was interesting for sure. He had all these sunglasses with him & even though I had a pair of my own, he kept trying to talk me into buying another pair! I guess he didn’t get the point when I turned my back & didn’t respond to his broken English attempts at a conversation.
We finally got there & hailed a cab. Cabs here have taken me a while to get used to. No one wears seat belts & they cram as many people in the car as possible. Safety isn’t even considered. We were in a tiny five passenger car with five full grown adults already in it! It was super crazy! But thankfully, we survived. One of our first stops was McDonald’s. I don’t even really eat McDonald’s in the states but it was such a small piece of home that I had to partake of it. I got an Oreo McFlurry & it was like heaven. It made me laugh the way they made it though; they just put in the ice cream & dumped cookie bits on top. I had to mix it up myself. But I didn’t even care. I was so happy. I suppose all good things must come to an end.
Next, we went out shopping. The had the cutest little shops. It’s funny how they sell clothes here. Aeropostale, American Eagle, Hollister, & Abercrombie are all very popular brands; they are symbols of wealth. Clothing from the aforementioned places is pretty expensive. Occasionally, you’ll find shirts cheaper than ones in the states but for the most part they’re more expensive or the same price as back home. & they’ll only have one size. You just kinda have to hope that it’s YOUR size. Haha. It definitely makes shopping an adventure though! Thankfully, Elissa found this super cute brown dress that she was able to wear on the second day of our trip!
After Elissa & I finished up our shopping, we got another cab & went to the movie theater. It was in a mall & reminded me so much of home, very similar to Christiana Mall pre-renovation. It also makes me laugh because movies that are already on DVD in America aren’t even in theaters yet here. Charlie St. Cloud for example. That was released on DVD before I left & it’s due to hit theaters soon in this country. So Elissa & I saw Love & Other Drugs with Anne Hathaway. It was super cute, well, what I saw of it. I have this problem where movies put me to sleep. I can go see one in the middle of the day & I fall asleep every time without fail. It’s super frustrating. But I really tried to stay awake for this one.
After our movie, Kristin & Luiz met up with us so he could take us to his house for the night. Luiz goes to Templo Bautista, the church I attend in Jarabacoa & he was very generous to allow us to stay in his beautiful house for the night. & it really was a gorgeous home. My jaw literally dropped when I entered the door. It was like a picture out of a magazine. I’m sad I didn’t get a picture of the inside of it. But thankfully, I did get a picture of the exterior.
After a great night’s sleep in a super comfy bed, we all headed to church that morning. & as we were getting ready, we got to meet Luiz’s dog. He was the biggest dog I’ve ever seen. No joke. Like H U G E. When he was standing, he was half my height & when he was on his hind legs he was like two feet above my head! Massive. But so sweet. I really wanted to take him home.
Church was great. They were so welcoming & kind. I even met a family from Dover, Delaware! Small world. It was kinda neat too cause the sermon was in Spanish but they had headsets with translators so you could listen to the sermon in English, Creole, or French. I thought that was a really neat feature. I opted to listen to it in Spanish though. Even though I don’t understand much of what was being said, I think it helps me to listen. I’m starting to be able to understand the gist of some sentences. Whenever I am able to figure something like that out on my own, it’s so exciting.
After church, Kristin & Elissa & I went to Chili’s! It was just like an American Chili’s – SO good! I was so happy. & then we had them sing happy birthday to Elissa, Dominican style. It was great! Such a great cultural experience.
After some more shopping, we headed back up the mountain to Jarabacoa, totally exhausted from such a long, fun day.
Santiago was great. It’s such a beautiful city, full of things to see & do. I’m glad that’s one more thing I can check off my “Things to do in the DR” list.