Playa Vista Boca Chica Beach Bar
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
Good day Folks,
All quiet on the Caribbean front! BanInter’s fraud does raise its head in conversations. Nobody is admitting to having money in accounts with them yet but rumours say there are lots of Italians round here hurting. Don’t know why it should be Italians but that is the nature of rumours.
Our illegal neighbour decided to be aggressive toward one of his clients after a few swigs/bottles of rum and faithful to tradition – his own that is – stick his aggression where it was not called for… but the whole event petered out with threats and so far today calm still rules.
Pneumatic drills though have been piercing the mornings quiet as the authorities make another effort to install a series of attractive street lamps in the town – one year on from the last attempt.
Want to know what the rate of exchange is? Well, RD$25.50 for the US dollar and RD$27.60 for the Euro even at the local high street BanInter branch where they are still keeping their flag flying high.
Saturday, May 24, 2003
Entirely without surprise we can share/say that it was as usual hot and sunny on the beach yesterday. However, Boca Chica currently being in a slacker season, about the busiest activity was the breeze, which went at it with fair gusto most of the day. The cooling breeze was not just wafting by as it usually does, but working steadily at accumulating a growing sand dune in front of our humble west gate transferring the plot at times to images of the Sahara – if you forget for the moment that The Caribbean Sea is right behind you.
No exciting shootings, stabbings or even kidnaps to report of as of now, but just the usual procession of vendors and all kinds of strollers peppering our view from the Terraza throughout the day as we went about our daily chores including important meetings with refrigerator technicians to see if we could resuscitate a very sick and newly acquired member of our fridge community, all working hard in the service of thirsty bar-guests. We still don’t know if the hospital bills would warrant its revival. Like most things in Boca Chica it will need a little more time before we can come to a decision especially on such a life-threatening matter.
Sunday, June 1, 2003
Most days throw up quite a few challenges to traditional ways of doing things in this little corner of our island and the reward this week, for our little group of legal businesses on the Boca Chica beach confronting one of those challenges, is a more hassle-free beach for visitors in search of a relaxing time at a reasonable price. The beach has in many ways been left to its own devices over the years which has resulted in a lot of set ups and behaviour patterns that have led in turn directly to the mentioned challenges.
Well, surprise surprise… at least in our part of the beach the local tourist police have taken it upon themselves – with a certain amount of vocal persuasion via the two commercial associations in the town – to stop more or less illegal ‘profiteering middlemen’, known in local lingo as ‘fisgones’ or ‘buscones’, literally roaming all over the beach trying with all means including untrue and misleading propaganda to persuade visitors to accompany them to use the facilities of a more or less legal bar/restaurant where the ‘fisgon’ gets a cut of the bill… not uncommonly of a seriously hyped bill.
The current commander-in-chief of Politur has now posted a watchman or two in the vicinity specifically to deal with this problem…A small step for mankind, but a big step forward for Boca Chica. Well done the local tourist police! Hopefully the tendency to finally recognize some common sense – not to mention the law of the country – will spread and prevail to the benefit of good old Boca Chica.
Friday, June 6, 2003
PARASOLS… is a theme dear to our hearts here on the sun-drenched Caribbean beach. For many strange reasons – all due to the suppliers holding on to their precious parasols with an unheard of passion – we haven’t got too many of them in general. The ones we have got are placed out there on the beach each day and brought in at night. In the interim they have quite a life: they are opened and closed on a regular basis depending on the whim of the customer/visitor for sun or shade at any given moment, which is naturally their prime function, but they do stand out there the whole time taking whatever punishment the weather may dish out. The sun causes severe fading at the very least but it is the wind that tests their true “metal”, so much so that with the occasional serious gust or even mini whirlwind they can go dancing off down the beach cannoning into whatever may be in their path. All this activity is seriously taking its toll and has forced us to carry out some very ingenious and intricate repairs to continually breathe new life into the old guard of “Presidente’ and ‘Coca-Cola’ parasols still standing.
Though we have over the years offered some of the leading drinks companies here full exposure if they would just kindly come up with a reasonable amount of parasols, it has been a difficult ride trying to make these companies see the benefits of donating their precious parasols in return for having a prime publicity location on the beach. Actually we are constantly working at it and were therefore pleasantly surprised the other day to be offered over the bar four very sound and solid umbrellas at a very reasonable price but certainly not advertising anything cool and refreshing that you might buy at the bar, seemingly not even publicizing anything available in this country… but the price was right, the timing was certainly right and as for what they are advertising well… even a short trip our way would of course reveal all!
Monday, June 16, 2003
99% of the time, and we mean not just 99% of some kind of limited season but 99% of the 365 days of our planetary year, we do enjoy a tropical paradise here – however the remaining 1% of the time we take great note of the difference, and the other day we were visited by a wind of such gusting strength that we had to close the bar hatches and then the bar to protect ourselves from both the wind and the sand. Anyway it was an early finish to the day’s proceedings rare though that is.
Talking of wind prompts the subject of hurricanes which we experienced with full force in Boca Chica back in 1998 when we were visited by “George” who came with a ferocity previously unknown to us coming from outside the hurricane/typhoon zones of the world. Perhaps more of that story another day.
By the way if you are planning a visit the exchange rate is now so much in your favour you will feel guilty over our bar prices!
Saturday, June 21, 2003
Just in case those of you with pesos investments were getting worried about the situation in the good old Dominican Republic we can bring you some financially reassuring news. The Dominican peso has not only stopped its uncharacteristically rapid descent of late against the US dollar but is now heading back in the other direction. At its worst we heard that it was nudging into the 40s per dollar but is now well back below 28 and expected to recover still more. One of our close financially informed colleagues has reiterated the belief that the Banco Intercontinental (Baninter) scandal lit a blue touch paper but this is being defused by the purchase of a yet bigger bank, Banco Nacional de Crédito (Bancrédito) by the solidly operated León Jimenes Group who among other things successfully control the vast majority of beer sales on the island and of even greater relevance an agreement to support the country from the International Monetary Fund is imminent. For those of you not at all worried by any of this and just interested in a cheap holiday the recent losses of the Dominican peso will just make the beer impossibly avoidable for you at Playa Vista while you at the same time ponder anew the many possibilities for making your adventurous and highly rewarding investments in this up and coming economy!
Sunday, June 29, 2003
As you may know we do like to keep you up to date on the parasol situation here at Playa Vista because it is so dear to our hearts and the latest is a major breakthrough with Coca-Cola. Unfortunately it comes at a cost of… well, money actually.
We did omit to mention in a previous entry that in addition to daily parasol put-outs we also have four eight-foot diameter parasols which stay out the full 24 hours. Originally supplied by Coca-Cola – thank you very much, but poorly supported thereafter. In spite of them very kindly coming up with 3 bright shiny replacement Coca-Cola canvases for the very sadly faded originals about one and a half years ago (remember we needed four) the intervening period of coaxing, cajoling and then almost begging for just one more yielded a big zero. Until this week that is, when our desperate offer to pay for half the cost of production tempted them out of their reticence. The cheque has been issued, the order has been made and we are now eagerly looking forward to be able to brag about Playa Vista actually now sponsoring Coca-Cola! – The Real Thing!
Wednesday, July 2, 2003
Should you ever make a visit to Boca Chica hopefully also granting us at Playa Vista the honour of your presence, we would then like to take the opportunity to pre-introduce a recent acquisition who helps us out especially at the busier times of the week. Carlos is his name but very commonly called “Flaco”, a nickname accurately translateable as “Slim”. Slim he is indeed and easily tall enough to make it into most basketball teams although we have tended to keep him busy enough to keep him off the court. We are very pleased to see him enthusiastically and politely helping out in most departments where he lends his helping hands and on top of it all his English is coming along all the time, so if Spanish is not one of your strengths and you are lounging around enjoying the sun and local views then we know he would be only too pleased to exchange a few friendly words with you.
Hasta La Playa Vista… Baby ! (as our motto goes)
Tuesday, July 8, 2003
Sometimes there are those days when not too much happens and supposedly it is one of those days today. To be honest it is such a lazy day that even writing a blog seems to be too much effort so, we’ll just sign off right here and begin again another day.
Monday, July 14, 2003
You have heard it first here! Development is for better and for worse gathering pace in Boca Chica – not least on the beach. An extension of the police vigilance -set up to stop the illegal ‘playeros’as referred to in a previous entry – is being planned by the tourist police in that they will be making aquatic patrols to ensure that there are no underhand shenanigans at sea which will include stopping people scrambling over and therefore damaging the natural coral reef barrier that makes the Boca Chica bay so attractive. The beach itself will be replenished with dredged up quantities of sand especially and urgently necessary at the far east end alongside the Hotel Hamaca. Decorative lamps will be added along the length of the beach to entice people to venture out for a stroll in the evening too. The street lighting that has been erected in the main high street will finally after one and a half years of deadlock be lit too and the mega port project in adjacent Andres is being extended to cater for large passenger cruise liners. All this information has come from people “in the know” – we really will need yet more parasols… and soon too!
Monday, July 21, 2003
Something you really should know! Boca Chica is in an excellent location with respect to the country’s principal airport.
According to one very good customer of ours – a frequent picker-upper of people at the airport – it is just 6 minutes away and that is not an average but regularly achievable time because there is little chance of a traffic jam as there are no traffic lights along the excellent highway leading right to good old Boca Chica .
We believe that as a base camp Boca Chica is undersold. The first and last night’s stay in town whatever else your itinerary involves would be a deserved reward before you embark on the next part of your journey whether it is into the interior here or overseas. If your business should be concentrated in Santo Domingo then you could do far worse than basing your stay in the far more relaxing, pollution free and always entertaining little town we have here. Commuting the 30 minutes to the big city is extremely feasible and when business is finished you would be very well set up right in the trusty pleasant sea breeze with a gin and tonic or whatever… takes your fancy.
Sunday, July 27, 2003
The boring parasol story won’t leave the editing room. You may recall that our knack of sponsoring Coca-Cola was achieved by the payment of a check and a promise that we would have our fourth Coca-Cola parasol canvas, actually in the space of two weeks. Well… of course that wasn’t true. The next difficulty on the horizon was that of matching colors. The produced canvas was in a totally different color, close to orange sounded the discouraging news from the people who had even specially requested one of our already delivered canvases to avoid exactly that! We took the trouble to travel to the other side of Santo Domingo to inspect the already made canvas. In truth it was more orange than red but salvation was swiftly at hand because a swatch of various reds was presented one of which was very akin to the original canvas. A hand shake came with the promise of delivery next week seemingly bringing the conclusion to this round of a parasol story in to sight… maybe.
Thursday, July 31, 2003
As of 12.15 pm today after 18 months of haranguing the promotional department at Coca-Cola we have four new brightly colored parasols proudly standing in front of our property officially announcing our sponsorship of one of the world’s larger companies.
Wednesday, August 6, 2003
Here is a little sunshine story about honesty in the Dominican Republic. Little Reyito (or Riquitin to others) is a schoolboy who often picks up empty soda bottles from the beach at the weekend and sells them to us at one peso per bottle. We were reminded of an incident demonstrating his honesty quite some time ago by another of equal charm recently.
The first endearing story involved him trying to pass three bottles to us in one go… unfortunately one slipped from his hand, fell to the ground and smashed. He apologized clarifying that it was his own fault this had happened and backed that statement up claiming he only wanted two pesos as a result. Thinking that he should be rewarded for his honesty we didn’t hesitate in fetching three pesos but he insisted and refused to accept any more than two – impressive, eh?
The latest “honesty” story is that he brought several bottles and in the growing gloom of the early evening we didn’t notice that we accidentally gave him a five peso coin amongst the several single peso coins in the handful offered up. Some ten minutes later he returned to exchange the “wrongly” received five peso coin for a single peso. What a pleasure to deal with such an honest gentlemanly thing especially at the end of a busy Sunday.
Tuesday, August 12, 2003
Columbus said that the climate in Hispaniola was best described as ‘perpetual June’… Nevertheless… it is high summer here and numbers at the beach are swelling. They swell for various reasons, but the main ones are always that people in many parts of the world take their annual holidays in August and that the locals seek refuge at the breezier and therefore fresher beach side away from the sweltering heat of their Santo Domingo neighborhoods. This year though we have an additional wave of visitors thanks entirely to the 14th Pan American games taking place nearby. Our usual international gathering has been added to by the likes of Mexican sharp shooters, Canadian wrestlers, Jamaican team managers not to mention the press contingents – all of them enjoying the special flavor that the Boca Chica beach has to offer on their days off, bringing their own spicy variety of interesting stories to the bar too and all of them playing their role in the ongoing ‘Playa Vista’ soap opera.
Friday, August 22, 2003
The PanAm Games are over and the enthusiasts on our island seem to be very pleased with the outcome, not least the haul of 10 gold medals and even more silver and bronze for the Dominican team across a range of sports from 400 meters hurdles to table tennis. After the voluble celebrations of the Brazilian soccer silver medallists at Playa Vista and the coming and going of many other participants we are now left with our usual summer influx of visitors, the peaking summer temperatures and most important of all our truly international range of friendly customers who trek from even further afield than the Americas to visit our little town with surprising regularity. We ourselves have been experiencing a little streak of high temperatures in the last few days but that has to be tempered with the knowledge we are getting people from middle and southern Europe cooling down here in their escape from exceptional heat and forest fires back home.
Sunday, August 31, 2003
Everything is as rosy as it comes here in our little corner of paradise just every now and again the material world gives us a straight uppercut just to remind us that we after all live in the world of inertia. We had been on rather a good run without many interruptions of late to the regular smooth service, but suddenly last week we were back trying to walk through the “molasses” again. It was late Friday night (of course) and the telephone started playing tricks just at the same time as the computer (of course). Saturday both the phone and the computer were down and first off the local phone company, Codetel, were called. As we have a special business account they would be out to visit us in 24 hours. Great. By Sunday afternoon no show and when we, after the regular trek to the nearest usable public phone, asked what had happened – 24 hours on weekdays not weekends stupid! Oh god, of course, and thanks for not mentioning that yesterday when we called!. Monday came and went and still no show. Tuesday morning off to call again to ask why? The engineer couldn’t find us! For those of you who don’t know our location, we are in the dead centre of town on a small street with very few businesses where the monthly bill always arrives correctly and where no engineer had ever previously had difficulty in locating us. We had now missed Tuesday so we got another appointment Wednesday between 9 and 4. So, Wednesday at 3.15 we made another call to Codetel because we were getting a bit worried based on our previous experiences – How would this globe trotting engineer ever find us? Was he really looking for us? Did Codetel even exist beyond a voice at the end of the line? and other similar outlandish questions. The cool response to that call was that the appointment was still valid because it was not yet 4 o’clock. So, they insisted, with absolutely no recognition of our genuine concern for what was likely to happen, that we just wait again! Another hour later when nobody turned up off to the jolly old public phone to point out exactly how our fears were well founded and ask how could we possibly ensure that a visit was going to be made at all. They now offered us something they called a “numero de reclamacion” which we interpreted to be a kind of complaints number. It certainly wasn’t linked to any form of financial recompense for the inconvenience caused. It was rather as if it was now finally recognized that we actually had a problem and now that we had passed through the complaints initiation rites they would actually consider doing something about it. The man we dealt with after giving us the requisite number assured us that somebody would definitely visit us by SEPTEMBER FIRST! (four days hence). Now what was all that talk of 24 hours 5 days previously!
Nearly everybody around here has their favorite Codetel story, Codetel in fairness being a company by and large operating with 21st century systems simply with the occasional gaping glitch, and this is for now, ours besides being (by the way) quite a long way round to explain the delay in getting the blog entry out this time.
See you all later, si Codetel quiere of course!
Tuesday, September 9, 2003
We get a lot of visitors at Playa Vista of all types in wide-ranging shapes and colors with all sorts of behavior patterns. Two of the most regular and enjoyable to observe are easily recognizable in that they always wear green and bear red headdresses. However their behavior pattern does differ quite a bit from the usual bar visitor… or does it? They are a pair of green woodpeckers who could be pioneers in their species due to their persistent curiosity mixed with not a little narcissism. They visit daily the one-way glass window we have in our kitchen and seemingly have a real good time admiring themselves in the reflection. The one-way nature of the glass makes them unaware of anyone standing on the other side. However, once you tap on the window or the wall curiosity takes over from the narcissism and they start scrabbling around in a variety of fascinating ways including mating rituals – just like the regular visitors to the bar, eh? – as they preen and pose and endeavor to find out what the noise is all about. Neither is this a passing fad; they have been entertaining themselves in this way for many months. Our own observations indicate that the female of the pair was more interested in the self- admiration but the male seems to be just as hooked on the curiosity angle as she ever was on admiration. On an extreme day they spend hours in front of the glass and the day before yesterday they were there at sun up and still there at sun down sitting motionlessly as if they were waiting for the next showing, or a “significant” message from the “other side”- just like the regular visitors to the bar, or what?
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
We have just reached out to space at Playa Vista…. We have stretched the budget further than ever before to bring in TV channels, and lots of them, from an outer worldly satellite, emanating from our dear terrestrial neighbors in America first of course. If you should be in town desperately seeking a specific favorite show, movie or sporting event there is a good chance we might be able to help alleviate your desperation and make a search through the 600 or so channels that we now have on offer for you. This has even allowed us to pipe any of the numerous stereo music channels to the bar’s speakers too for further enhanced entertainment. On Sunday afternoons we have even begun what we hope to be a regular football pool – 30 pesos (very approximately one US dollar) buys a square and the chance of a 100 times return on your investment, if you have the matching half time or full time score, or alternatively enough to buy everybody a drink in the bar as our gallant first winner did first time around during the Virginia Tech versus Central Florida game. Cheers!
Thursday, September 25, 2003
“I thought somebody was moving under my bed”, “I couldn’t understand how my leg was rolling around in my sleep like that”, “I thought I was imagining it but then wondered why my bathroom door started swinging open”, and “I thought there must have been a very large cat on the roof” were some of the comments heard around the bar on Friday in reaction to the earthquake that stretched its vibratory tentacles as far as Boca Chica from the epicenter 250 kilometers away to the north near Puerto Plata at approximately 1 am on September 22nd. Before that nature’s calling card threatened in a different way last week as we watched the internet satellite photography reveal the path of a certain very powerful hurricane by the name of Isabel. It passed, for us, the right side of Puerto Rico and never came close enough to our shores to cause any troubles…but not such good luck for North Carolina as you know! We note though that coincidently it was precisely 5 years ago on the very same 22/9 that hurricane George thumped his calling card down squarely on our little town, and others on route, as he wreaked his own special hurricane havoc on his way through the Caribbean. Roll on October!
Friday, October 17, 2003
You have been missing those ‘exciting’ parasol stories, right? Well… the usual ‘law of nature-like’ situation concerning parasols around here that could be described as the seemingly unbreakable circle of promises and wait eons for parasols to be delivered… or not, has been broken and Budweiser has jumped straight in with direct promotion here at Playa Vista – parasols provided within 24 hours of signing the contract! You will now see their colors proudly flying on the terraza and you can even ask for ‘the king of beers’ at the bar. After all the Anheuser-Busch empire does deserve a wee bit of promotion in return for their prompt and honorable response wouldn’t you say?
Friday, October 24, 2003
Calle Abraham Nunez where we are located is a very short uncomplicated street; and when we moved in we asked the local postman what number the property was. “No. 3”, he said very forthrightly. All right, we thought, #3 it is! Nice simple number, we are more or less at the beginning of the street and above all the postman recognized it as such.
We haven’t had any difficulties with being #3 in general, but merely observed that the water company has us down as #13, the cable TV company as numberless and the electricity company as #8. However, further to this we couldn’t help noticing the other day a very large #52 being painted on the wall of a restaurant next door but one to us! We do know it is a situation not entirely rare around these parts but we mention it by way of backdrop to an even more entertaining story I heard at the bar the other day from a friend and customer. He owns a restaurant in Calle Caracol… one of the principal streets leading from the high street up to the main freeway running between Santo Domingo and San Pedro. He has always believed that his property was #15 only to discover that Hotel Hamilton almost opposite also uses #15. He was further surprised to then discover that the florist shop some doors down on his own side also uses #15. He visited the post office to try and point out what he thought was a ludicrous situation. The post master said “Well, actually that isn’t too bad because if you carry on up your road and cross the freeway there are actually fourteen #24s.”
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Boca Chica has currently got itself into a fine pickle. It is so much of a pickle that it is almost impossible to get a truly objective picture let alone apportion blame with any degree of accuracy. The case is at one end of our fine beach erosion of the sand is rendering parts difficult to walk on, making it quite unsightly and devouring land area owned by some of the businesses.
It was documented some two years ago by numerous scientific experts that a solution was very feasible by dredging sand up from the bay, repositioning it in parts that are suffering from erosion and building groins extending out in to the bay to act as retention barriers to avoid a repetition of the problem in the future. Not only has this been officially acknowledged but it is claimed by all parties involved to be what everybody wants, has even been authorized in some form or other and it is rumored that the resources are either currently or imminently available. How can it be that something desired by all, approved by experts, authorized by one or more institutions and with funds in the pipeline ends up with public in-fighting, arrests, closures of businesses and unwelcome front page news in the leading daily newspapers?
The truth is we don’t know but what we do know for sure is that if some or all of the ballooned egos involved in the President’s office, the Environment Ministry, the Public Works Ministry, local businesses and the local business organizations took a back seat the issue would be dealt with more effectively and Boca Chica would have its beach gloriously and amicably rejuvenated in a snappy.
Thursday, November 6, 2003
The theme of the last blog entry has subsided from the front pages of the national newspapers but not from the attention of people who live on or promenade along the beach in Boca Chica due to the constant eyesore of the continuing erosion of the sand in certain parts.
Regrettably the answer to our question of how the situation could be allowed to deteriorate to such an extent when so many have identified a commonly beneficial goal has not been answered, but we surely still would like that answer and here and now promise to deliver an objective reports along the way if and when we hear reliable news.
Meanwhile we do note that a dredger still sits moored in the bay, waiting for common sense to prevail and get the job done to the benefit of all in Boca Chica.
Thursday, November 13, 2003
Very quiet on the beach during the week at the moment. Our visitors from the cold north are now back to their daily routines with the summer vacations behind them but so far with the temperatures not yet biting enough to drive them to warmer climes. We are used to this and take the time to take stock of our situation and carry out the usual necessary repairs ready for an increase in activity in December when people journey down in greater numbers again to enjoy our near-perfect temperatures. Very relaxing, especially now… why not buck the routine trend and come see for yourself.
Monday, November 24, 2003
Uncertainty is rather a certainty in these parts. We try to maintain at least a modest level of efficiency in our daily operations but we are unbelievably often thwarted by the irregularities of other over-imposing agendas. That might be due to accident, someone’s illness, new requirements from officials and last but not least all kinds of totally unreasonable demands from all kinds of passers by… but there is another more sinister reason that rears its head from time to time that has other worrying undertones as we were reminded again recently. This particular story relates to our good man – beach and bar helper Carlos alias Flaco. His uncle turned up the other morning to tell us that we would have to get along without Flaco because he had been arrested the night before in the adjacent town of Andres. His “crime” was nothing more than being present in the area where the police chose to conduct a raid to round up young men so that they could demonstrate they were doing something in order to combat a shooting that had taken place in the neighborhood that same night. He was rounded up with about 30 others and spent the night cooped up in a room no bigger than about 12 feet by 12 feet just enough for him to rest on his haunches… no sitting and certainly no lying down. For those of us who are used to different systems of “criminal” investigation and treatment it is a shocking revelation. The whole thing is based on the, to us, strangely topsy-turvy legal code here ordaining that one is guilty until proven innocent. On that premise it is easy to see what can eventuate. The police are permitted to hold anybody for up to 48 hours without charge… for “investigation”, and in reality they can even extend that because they just have to transfer the person to a prison in another location and they can continue for another 48 hours, and so on and so on.
We will pass on, with no further comment, past the obvious point that this procedure is so commonly known by all that it is highly unlikely any culprit would linger in the vicinity of any crime, making it even more ludicrous that the police round up people based purely on location. Anyway in our man Flaco’s case – once the police had satisfied themselves that they didn’t have the man they were looking for, they released him along with all the other ’inmates of the night’ the following morning. Flaco promptly went off to catch up on his sorely needed sleep and is now back to take care of business on the beach as usual. The moral is: Don’t visit your girlfriend in Andres when there are crooks on the run?
Sunday, November 30, 2003
Being a public bar in a very public culture we tend to be witness to or engaged in all kinds of fair… in fact acting as a sort of public assistance bureau. The other day was a case in point. We felt very much as if the scene was temporarily transferred to Philadelphia, because it was by way of a number of good customers emanating from that fine city, including ex-members of the Philadelphia police department, who were trying to help out a poor woman from the neighborhood here who had been robbed of her most valued possessions – her credit card and cellular telephone… the credit card being her financial lifeline and the telephone her communications lifeline. She had been given the credit card and the telephone by her husband who was resident in, of all places, Philadelphia Detention Center. After quite a discussion over whether a detainee at such a place had access to receiving fax or telephone messages and after an internet search did not come up with a fax number, it was decided by this willing group of Philadelphian helpers that a phone call would not get through as this was obviously one of the privileges denied to such residents. The woman then presented a readymade letter explaining her situation and was prepared to post it to her husband, but was concerned that it could take either 3 weeks by snail mail… or would cost an exorbitant 900 pesos to send by air courier.
After all aspects were thoroughly debated, the collective decision was made to provide a clean crisp envelope, address it to the PO Box number that went with her husband’s name and detention number and give it to the member of the assembled group who was due back in the States first to put in the regular mail.
The woman was exceedingly grateful, for she believed her husband would now be able to cancel his credit card and order another one for her – that is if Philadelphia Detention Center inmates are allowed to contact their bankers of course. Time will tell!
So folks,… take your problems to Playa Vista and we will work it out with a little help from our friends!
Saturday, December 6, 2003
We do not have a weather forecast but we do have a weather view… and a very watery one at that.
It is raining and has been raining all night, though mostly not heavily. However, we are getting a little edgy about Odette because the satellite photos seem to indicate that some nasty stuff is about to arrive. As of writing we have opened the bar and even have two/a bunch of intrepid customers peering out at the imminent storm as passers by also give their own views on how they see Odette developing. We hear that she contains winds circling at about 100 km/hr and is therefore categorized still as a tropical storm although building on hurricane force and she is heading directly here ! The sea is rising and the surf is surging and our Odette is remarkably late in the season with most hurricane activity having passed away by the end of October.
We are disturbingly reminded of the visitation of hurricane George some 5 years ago. In those good old days it was a tale of two phases of build up and descent complete with half-time interval in the eye of the storm. During the half-time break last time the wind completely disappeared and the sun even shone before the full vengeance of the storm descended on us. Beware and behold folks… right now there isn’t a breath of wind !
Monday, December 8, 2003
True to the spirit of Playa Vista we kept the bar hatches open most of the day on Saturday in spite of having Odette breathing down our necks, as some of our local visitors understandably came down especially to soak up the atmosphere of the surging surf and rising tide, although some also confessed simply to having nothing better to do back home as the storm was already denying them their electricity supply.
The party continued into the evening but all was shut up safe and sound by the time Odette really came a calling. Round about 11.30 pm the wind rose quite a few notches and the rain cascaded down. We were not aware though of any falling trees or flying roofs compared with George 5 years ago, and within an hour the peak of the tropical storm had passed by.
Despite the strength of the onslaught, judged by the sound from outside, to our relief the next morning revealed very minor damage to the roof and really only a wet floor and a wet Menu-card in the bar. The bar hatches were opened, the sun came out and the good old customers thankfully came trotting in again and we had one of our busier days. After all the show must go on!
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
To further demonstrate the kind of intertwining and globally extended connections that we see developing here at Playa Vista we skip swiftly on from the city of Philadelphia, as in our last pre-hurricane story, to the eastern European country of Hungary.
It can be reasonably surmised that the numbers of Hungarian nationals visiting the Dominican Republic, let alone living here, are scant, but our own humble operation is beginning to record quite a list of visitors from that other far out republic.
The whole Hungarian thing started one fine day with a medical surgeon who wanted to take a weekend break from his regular round of operations at one of the leading hospitals in Santo Domingo and relax while sipping a beer or two. Another friendly Hungarian fellow who had been able to escape from the country in question in the days when iron curtains were drawn across many European borders popped up at almost the same time. He too lived in Santo Domingo but soon became a more regular visitor as he searched for a place to start his own business in Boca Chica. These two guys met through the Playa Vista forum and before long they introduced us to another Hungarian DR resident who, after being a very regular guest together with the surgeon, last year had some “very personal” reasons for heading back to Hungary. The next Hungarian to be a regular visitor was a guy who lives here with local commitments to a lady friend and this week the circle was kind of closed when a Hungarian couple came directly to us on recommendation and as friends of our original contact from good old Budapest with their own plans of making a longer term commitment to this country, starting right here in Boca Chica.
Long live the Hungarian invasion !
Thursday, December 25, 2003
As we come from a continent steeped in the Christian culture and here and now are living in a country that has inherited much of that same culture, we recognize this day as significant in the calendar for a lot of people. Naturally, each country has its own variation of this day and the Dominican flavor follows a common European theme of big family gatherings on Christmas Eve accompanied by large feasting and carousing in their own homes although the giving of gifts is not something that takes place until the day of the three kings (Los Tres Reyes) which is January 6th.
Anyway… back here at Playa Vista we were presented with a very pleasant Christmas Eve scenario. One of the most gorgeous sunsets bathed the horizon and the assembled regular customers. So compelling was the naturalness it was clear that the customers were giving themselves over to it more than usual. The sunset was sublime, the temperature was ideal, there was not a stirring of any wind and quite significantly there was hardly a sound to be heard on the beach because all the locals surprisingly had upped themselves and headed for their home parties quite some time before. It was peaceful, gentle and full of goodwill to all men as the group raised their glasses on more than one occasion wishing each other good Christmas tidings. The sun dropped out of sight and almost immediately popped up the glittering shininess of Venus hanging directly above a barely formed crescent of a new moon. We couldn’t help thinking that the star of Bethlehem was shining down on Boca Chica at that moment – Happy Christmas folks!
Tuesday, December 30, 2003
It was a quietish Monday with the sun doing its usual swift tropical dart below the horizon as the beach activity wound down for the night. We had a smallish cozy crew around the bar interchanging their varied viewpoints on a familiar range of subjects such as politics, history and not least the capture of Saddam Hussein. It became increasingly obvious though that the male members were becoming ever more distracted by an exceedingly lovely looking woman from Santiago who, annoyingly for our crew in question, was already chaperoned.
The conversation ebbed and flowed as is its wont in an open bar next to the Caribbean Sea, and the intensity of the repartee was such that later on it was barely noticed that the chaperone and chaperoned slunk off their bar stools into the now pitch black night. Some while passed before one of the more alert members of the crew, the only one drinking plain Coca-Cola it has to be said, murmured that he suspected the lovely was skinny dipping down at the water’s edge. You could have freeze framed the instant as all the intense energy of conversation instantly dissipated, tongues lay still and eyes fixed themselves on the beach in the hope of something decidedly more immediate and exciting than talking about what kind of trial Saddam should face.
Alas it was too dark, and the crestfallen observers were returning to their beers when the least crestfallen of the group quickly ran to his large SUV jumped in and drove the vehicle with headlamps blazing for complete beach illumination as far forward on the terraza as possible. The male throng leapt from their stools and gathered around the fencing and peered out in the direction of the lights. All to no avail… just gentle ripples lapping on the soft sand under a dark sky night. Not a boot lace or bra strap in sight let alone anything more exotic. A few more rounds of beer and Saddam vilification later the recently vanished couple slipped, fully clothed and dry, back into position for a few more beers on their own as quietly as they had left in the first place. There was no mention of dazzling headlights or raucous boys behaving badly and all was cozy once again. The quiet ending of the story could by the way be the prelude to new adventures for our irrepressible crew… because later the telephone number of the chaperoned mysteriously turned up on the bar counter. Next Monday night it sure would make a fine prize in a bar auction!