Caribbean Beach Bar – Playa Vista Boca Chica
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
We spend day after beautiful day looking out over the azure blue of the Caribbean Sea, and as another year draws to a close we thought we would present the Caribbean Sea’s view of us and at the same time offer a peek for those of you out there who have never visited these parts. Oh and by the way a VERY PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR to all of you. Why not make it one of those exotic New Year resolutions and drop by to check up on the Caribbean azureousness, the Latin-flavoured Dominican Republic and last but not least your Base Camp and InfoCenter PLAYA VISTA Boca Chica of course!
Friday, January 27, 2006
It has to be said that from time to time we are forced to embrace technical difficulties here. Shall we just say that the anomaly in our New Year’s posting has to be put down to one of those Caribbean “technical” matters being out of our control.
However… on a completely different note we are delighted to announce that the authorities, in the form of ‘Politur’ -the police arm of the Ministry of Tourism- finally, after years of promises promises promises, have come up with a seemingly quite realistic plan to make good old Boca Chica more visitor friendly… actually by simply policing the existing law!
At a meeting held on Wednesday January 25th at the Don Juan Hotel in Boca Chica the chief of this particular department, Colonel Alexis Peña, led the field of a group of other high ranking members of the police force in outlining how they had identified the problems that confront Boca Chica and revealed their plan and determination to slowly, methodically and steadily make the improvements that many of us have been calling for over a number of years.
With a professional slide show presentation by way of introduction it was obvious that they had done their homework and very effectively conveyed to the gathered representatives of established legal beach businesses, as well as not-so-legal beach vendors, playeros and other groups involved with the Boca Chica Beach, that they had also grasped the bigger picture. On top of it all – and not very typical for around here – they further boldly claimed they would, “start today so that results can be seen tomorrow”!
After awaiting the promised and, for a better visitor service, much needed full legalization of the of the capital’s laden-with-potential beach for such a long time, we at Playa Vista welcome the new initiative, though it still has to be seen how long in this tradition-ridden Caribbean island it will take to shake off the ingrown habits and outlived traditions that have to go in order to adjust Boca Chica to the twenty first century… we hope and believe it can be done without losing the raw natural charm that Boca Chica, for better and for worse, is known for by locals as well as by international tourists… Time will tell!
Sunday, February 5, 2006
Streetlamp number 25 stands proudly, though somewhat tiltingly, in Calle Abraham Nuñez magnificently illuminating the public road and area between Playa Vista and Hotel Europa or, rather, we should say… it used to. “Interestingly enough” this lamp became profoundly inactive the week that EdeEste (the local electric utility company) decided to disconnect our service because we kept insisting we had not consumed the huge quantity of electricity they suddenly were claiming -five times the usual level, “no way Jose!”- and that we wanted the matter fully investigated. Unknown to us, at that point anyway, the routine here seems to be quite simply that you pay what the monopolistic high and mighty EdeEste request because they do not have a genuine mechanism for thoroughly and professionally investigating invoiced anomalies.
When finally, after months of what turned about to be futile correspondence, we realized that arbitration in the eyes of EdeEste means: pay up whatever the company dictates and when finally, after making good use of our brand-spanking new propane-gas driven generator and our good old inverter, we were reconnected with the traditional electricity network, sweetened only by the minor token victory that the questionable meter was removed from its former position in the public street and installed inside Playa Vista, we requested that the dear company also investigate the non-functioning streetlamp number 25.
It took two full weeks or more and numerous phone calls to identify that it is not after all EdeEste who deals with streetlamps, but the local council… who ominously do have a reputation for being somewhat slow off the mark even in a country of slow starters.
Many many phone calls and then one fortuitous visit put us in direct contact with “the” man responsible – Ramon. He said, of course, “mañana” with some conviction though, because he explained they had another streetlight that also needed looking at nearby. Mañana naturally passed without any change to the situation whatsoever, and a call to Ramon gave the explanation that they were short of a mechanical crane. The following week the secretary in Ramon’s office made up her own story and said it was because they were out of bulbs in the storehouse! A couple of weeks later and Ramon, after being chased down on the phone again, asked, “Uh hum, exactly where is this lamp then?” A couple of days later hoping to speed things along we also provided the lamp’s individual identification code, “number 25”, as all of you also know now. Some days later Ramon was able to confirm indeed that lamp number 25 was not working. He had seen it with his own eyes.
One obviously good-humored and unusually pro-active day yet further on in time Ramon dramatically announced he was sending his chief assistant the next day… which helped us recall being told in no uncertain terms earlier on in the venture, that Ramon definitely didn’t have an assistant and only he himself could handle a matter such as this. ‘The assistant’ – another ‘Ramon’ – surprisingly, did turn up! When we explained the difficulties we had had with EdeEste and the coincidence of the street lamp suddenly being inoperative the same week we had been disconnected, he said AHAAA… and nodded his head vigorously indicating that he knew exactly from previous experiences what had happened. No light bulb failure, just a simple menacing harassing disconnection by you know who! He said he would fix it the next day… oh yes, mañana again. That was on a Saturday. Tuesday we phoned the first Ramon and asked what the problem now was. He said that there was no mechanical crane available! Amazing how circular the world is, ain’t it?
Quite a performance already and now we are just waiting for the finale: ‘The Ramones and The Light Show’ to get good old streetlamp 25 back into action!
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
The discriminating historians amongst you never commented on our blog of 19th February 2005 when we referred to the Taíno Indians as being the original inhabitants of Hispaniola… only actually true if, as most people do, you take the origin as to when Christopher Columbus first landed in 1492. The ingenuity of archeologists and of our modern ways of accessing information help to reveal, that our currently very visitor-friendly island has actually been popular with guests for upwards of 4000 years!
The very first batch is supposed to have arrived about 2600 BC! Unlike today they came exclusively from locations equally sunny and warm, thereby provoking the obvious question, “What on earth were they trying to get away from back home?” Anyway… the route’s starting point seemingly was eastern Venezuela and followed a sequence of natural with-current island-hopping bringing the true original inhabitants, the ‘Arawak’ Indians, to these shores. The trip was so popular that it was repeated and again we are at a curious loss as to know what could have possibly instigated it. The second migratory wave of other Arawak-related Indians referred to as ‘Saldoids’ occurred a couple of centuries before the time of Christ. These particular Indians, according to those curious archeologists, have left quite a trace of their sophisticated culture through remnants of their ceramic creations.
It is debatable as to where exactly the third group of visitors arrived from. Either, it is believed, along the same tried and trusted route using the equatorial currents or in successive steps up from the Peruvian-Andes. In similar fashion to the other two groups they absorbed, or eliminated, the previous migratory group and were known as the Taíno Indians. They held sway on the island for something like a thousand years and, in spite of their having eliminated the Arawak Indians, called themselves ‘Taíno’ which somewhat perversely is said to mean “friendly people” in their own language. Of course this was no different from the Spanish of the 15th and 16th centuries who probably also regarded themselves as quite friendly in spite of their similar eliminatory tendencies, as they presided over the decline of a Taíno population estimated at 400,000 dwindling down to under 3,000 in less than the first 30 years after their arrival. It was though generally recognized, even by the Spanish of the time, that the Taíno’s general passivity contributed to their rapid demise. Either the ‘friendly people’ got slack in their 1000 years of untroubled living here or perhaps those Arawak Indians were just too much of a push over right from the outset… who knows!
It is of course a relief to know that today you don’t have to muster any sizeable group together, nor furnish yourself with the latest weaponry or even paddle great distances in a canoe to get here. You can just hop on a plane even on your ownsome, and within a few relatively trouble free hours you can be enjoying something of that accommodating welcome once upon a time probably afforded by those ancestral Indians!
See you soon then!
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Here we are able to present yet another enlightening and certainly entertaining Dominican Republic Boca Chica story, this time at the expense of one of Playa Vista’s best friends from the cold North who reports with such descriptive pathos we quote him word for word.
Taxi to the bus station – Caribe Tours in Santo Domingo – was fine, arriving at 6:25. Headed to the ‘Bileteria’, asked for ticket to Sosua – “No” – “Whadya mean, no?” – ” Last bus at seven” – “But it’s only 6:30″! – “Bus full”!
Oh my God! Recurring visions of last year’s rescheduling. “Only bus is to Santiago at 8PM” – “OK. I’ll take it” At least it would get me beyond half way. I ask at the ‘Informacion’ if by any chance there’s a bus from Santiago to Sosua. The girl consults with another and says there is and that it leaves at 10:30… exactly the time the first one gets there. She assures me that it will connect! An hour and a half later, just to be sure, I ask the driver as I’m boarding the bus, if the other bus will wait for this one. He tells me there is no other bus, well not Caribe Tours, anyway. I will have to get a taxi to another bus station in Santiago for the bus to Sosua.
On the way, the air conditioning is so cold that water is condensing on the luggage rack and dripping off a joint above my head right onto my glasses. I recline the seat a bit more and soon my chest is soaking wet – can’t move, the bus is jam-packed.
Arrive at Santiago and there is one taxi who tells me there is no other bus station or company! I figured it was the old trick to get me into his cab and there was no one else around to ask. “That’s it,” I thought, “I’ve missed the plane again and I’ll be stuck here until morning.” He says he’ll take me all the way to the airport. I figured that if it cost $180US to get from the airport to Boca Chica last year, that Santiago to Sosua is going to be around $80US and I knew I hadn’t got anywhere near that much on me. “Mucho dinero.” I say. He pulls out a cell-phone, punches the keypad and shows me the figure RD$1600. I didn’t bother to figure what that was in dollars – I just put my hand in my pocket and pulled out what I had – 1640 pesos. Whew!!! “Bueno!” I said… grabbing at the offer like a drowning man, which I pretty much was.
I still had four hours to be safe for the plane and I asked him how long the trip would take. He told me about an hour and a half. I had noticed, whilst negotiating with him, that both his eyes looked in different directions but it wasn’t until we had been traveling for about ten minutes that it became fairly obvious that he couldn’t see worth a damn. He never exceeded 40MPH and overtaking cars were whizzing past us by the dozens. When anything came towards us in the opposite direction, he would slow almost to a standstill and, at the last moment, swerve violently away from it, the right-hand wheels gong off the edge of the road. Of course, he had to slow down for those really bad, pot-holed patches, but he would jam on the brakes on smooth roads for potholes that weren’t even there! I was convinced that we were not going to make it all the way without some terrible calamity. On top of all this, the radio was on at full volume the whole time and the window on my side wouldn’t go up, so when it started to rain near Puerto Plata, I got soaked (some more). The rain reduced what little visibility he/the cross eyed chauffeur had, and with it, our speed down to around 20MPH. The whole trip took two and three quarter hours.
The saga is not finished yet, my friends. When, after the long wait with only 40 pesos in my pocket, which is insufficient to buy any refreshment at airport prices, I reached the boarding gate clutching my precious obligatoric $10US only to be told that I had first to go to another desk and pay a departure tax of an additional $10US. I told them I hadn’t got it and had not been advised that I would need it. “Well, you can’t get on the plane until it’s paid!” Arguing the point was futile – they took away my boarding pass! Then one of the agents at the gate made an announcement to the waiting passengers asking if anyone could lend this gentleman the necessary sum. Three people instantly stepped forward with $10 bills and I was saved. Believe me, at that moment, I was on the point of breaking into tears of relief!
Everything went smoothly after that, and my wife had a $10US bill with which I was able to repay the kind lady from whom I had borrowed it. I was so glad that it was all over, that even the twenty centimeters of snow that started to fall as soon as I arrived, seemed quite welcoming.
It must be pointed out that the recurring visions of last year’s rescheduling that our indomitable traveling friend had, were due to the fact that, because of a long sequence of quite different crazy occurrences, he completely missed his plane in Puerto Plata!
Well back in the cold North we asked our comrade if his unplanned departure-adventure would put him off visiting the Dominican Republic and good old Playa Vista again? “It would take a lot more than that episode to discourage me. Of course I’m coming back again” he stoically responded without hesitation.
So… thanks to the good old bull dog spirit we look forward to seeing him again very soon, and naturally we at Playa Vista will be waiting with open arms to again offer the kind of welcome that such a spirited and playful actor on the Boca Chica stage deserves.
Saturday, March 4, 2006
We are sure you are all dying to know what is happening to lamp number 25 in our street: Calle Abraham Nuñez… aren’t you?
Now, we all know that our little world is full of surprises and we thought that one day, whenever that might be, we would have light once again shining down from lamp number 25 at the entrance way to Playa Vista. We weren’t entirely wrong but neither were we entirely right thanks to that exquisite surprise factor.
We left you in early February with quite a tale of promises promises promises and following non-accomplishment all starting before Christmas. From February we decided to track the continuing promises and non-accomplishment for entertainment’s sake. Each telephone conversation was directly with Ramon number 1 and his statements on getting the light fixed were noted like this:
February 7th: In one hour!
February 9th: Today!
February 14th: Today!
February 16th: We can’t send the crane just for one light so we are liaising with Politur (the
tourist police) but it will be attended to this afternoon!
February 17th: We are right now with the police on the beach checking all the lights just
around the corner from Abraham Nuñez and we will fix it when we get there!
February 20th: We are coming with ladders (what happened to the crane?) right now, honestly
right this minute!
February 21st: It isn’t fixed? I will investigate why my order was not carried out!
February 22nd: The driver of the maintenance team was injured when hit by a motorcyclist. He
should be out of hospital this afternoon and there is even a possibility that he
could get there tomorrow!
February 25th-27th Independence weekend holiday!
February 28th HURRAH… JOB DONE!
… OR WAS IT?
On the 28th Ramon number 2 arrived with a very modern looking hydraulic crane, spare bulbs, photo cells and two helpers. Within 10 minutes lamp number 25 was reconnected and had a bulb replacement too, for good measure. Wonder of wonders… we actually saw the lamp working for the first time in months!
Later that day as dark descended the light came on and shone brilliantly for… shall we say about… 25 minutes when its splendor was rudely interrupted by one of the country’s infamous power cuts. The electricity came flooding back fairly soon spreading through the cabled veins of the Boca Chica system. It relit everything and all the lamps in Abraham Nuñez… EXCEPT LAMP NO 25!
Surprise? You bet ya!
The next day Ramon number 1 was called again to thank him for sending his men and the, well… 25 minutes of light. Was Ramon number 1 surprised? Certainly.
However the real surprises were still waiting for us in that, in spite of zero attention from anybody at all, that night the lamp suddenly burst into full life again all on its own … and actually shone brightly for the entire night. The really exquisite touch though is that one more night on… and lamp 25 was once again back in the dark!
This story about the ongoing battle between light and darkness is hopefully soon to be continued with perhaps more enlightening news…
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
There are a lot of different people who pass through the Playa Vista area in the course of time… one way or another and for one reason or another. An old Caribbean gentleman used to do so on a regular basis. He was tall, with decidedly negro characteristics, a bit of a stooped back, grey hair under his baseball cap and going by the distinctive and unforgettable name “Napoleon”. He was polite and very gentle mannered… and like many in any third world country looking for some kind of an opportunity. We really were not in a position to help, but we would, as we usually try to do with polite gentle mannered people, have a little interchange of conversation and wish him luck on his way.
Some years passed by and apart from bumping into Napoleon once on the bus we hadn’t seen or heard of the man for a long time until the other day.
Napoleon walked into Playa Vista with a more determined stride than we ever recall and greeted us very amicably. He was his usual friendly self and asked after us and how things were going. “How is business?” he asked. “Not too bad, but of course we can always use more customers even though it now is the middle of the higher season”, we replied. “Okay, I have a couple of friends who have apartments over in Andres and they can help you bring in a lot more customers.” “My two friends come from Puerto Principe by the way!” All right we thought. No harm in talking. Perhaps his friends have some lodgers who want to spend some time at a nice place right on the beach away from their apartments occasionally.
There are a lot of promises made and a lot of promises often not completed around these parts but the next morning, a Sunday incidentally, bright and early Napoleon was here with his two friends. They were two brothers, well dressed, polite, Spanish speaking but genuinely Haitian from the main city in that country, Puerto Principe, and they did have a SINGLE apartment in Andres where they personally were living. Well…out of courtesy we explained our set up silently wondering what kind of business proposition they could possibly have. “So, what do you want us to do for you then,” the younger brother a bit surprisingly said. “Well… if you can bring in substantially more customers then fair enough and you would be entitled to some kind of a commission, naturally,” we said.
There was quite a bit of eye shifting at this point and a slight clearing of the throat before the younger brother announced that their work fell into the category of “mystic”. Mystic? We honestly thought that perhaps it was some kind of show they put on, and we explained that we were not really big enough for a performance of that nature. The older brother then, after some more eye shifting, explained that it was “spiritual” – the way they planned to bring customers in that is. The penny then finally dropped: Puerto Principe, Haiti, Mystic, Spiritual…, my goodness, VOODOO!… we were staring straight in the face of the little known business arm of the world famous voodoo tradition.
The eye-shifting was now on our side of the table as we backtracked on our willingness to discuss promotional ideas with this particular “technique” in mind anyway. We then wished Napoleon and his friends the very best of the day and good luck with their many clients they said they had waiting for them in Andres. As they understandably, due to our lack of enthusiasm for their voodoo specialty, walked disappointedly out of Playa Vista the power supply abruptly failed!
Now, as we all know that power failure isn’t exactly uncommon in these parts we were left merely to wonder if it was just the usual problems that cut the electricity off at that moment… or could it be that voodoo trickery has been behind the last 40 years of electricity distribution problems in the Dominican Republic?
Friday, March 31, 2006
The numbers of stories filtering out from our delightful Hispaniola island quite frequently point to the – shall we say – idiosyncratic nature of the local people, and we at Playa Vista freely admit to being complicit sometimes in adding fuel to the fire… for where else would we get a really good story? However, to try and bring a semblance of balance to the picture we take the opportunity here to shed light on some idiosyncratic behavior of people from another part of the world.
Far be it from us to be part of the great big stereo-typing conspiracy, but we do note by way of introduction that the individuals concerned in this story come from West Virginia which our many American friends tell us has a reputation all of its own.
The central figure in our story arrived in Boca Chica fresh from the Panhandle State to marry his true love having decided on a previous trip to commit himself to a new life and a new wife here in our corner of Caribbean paradise.
Four days after the wedding day the man unexpectedly turned up in the Playa Vista Bar. We naturally motioned to congratulate him on his new start in life… but the scar on his hand sent the conversation in another direction. He then pointed to another much larger injury on his upper thigh. “What happened?” “I don’t rightly know,” he said… but then started talking somewhat abstractedly about a fight in the midst of his wedding ceremony! He said he had spent the last four nights in prison, precisely the amount of time that had passed since the wedding itself, we couldn’t help noticing, and reflection on that point delivered us very quickly to the conclusion that a new start in life was not the first thing to be congratulating him on after all.
To be honest we were left in complete confusion because our man was accompanied not only by his good traveling companion, also from West Virginia, but by a plain clothes policeman although not apparently under any kind of restrictive orders. Our man seemingly was visiting good old Playa Vista as if he were a ship seeking some kind of shelter in a storm. The West Virginia friend added to the plot of puzzlement by hissing out of the corner of his mouth that our newlywed had no money and we should watch the level of credit we allowed him.
Bewildered we were, to say the least, but let it go at that, believing it was a matter between two friends, seemingly the police and probably a newly wedded wife somewhere in the background.
Quite some days went by and the supportive friend appeared calmly and coolly at Playa Vista again thereby in our minds immediately dispelling the notion that there was any kind of urgent problem to deal with. Newly married West Virginian had, according to the friend, at some point since his arrival gone “a little crazy” caused numerous problems for himself and others around him and he, the friend, was now merely trying to help get him back to the USA… only there was a complication in that the friend had had his passport stolen! We had to applaud the support the friend was providing naturally assuming that after the substantial delay haste would be the order. However… the friend clearly wasn’t going to give up on his vacationing quite yet as he enjoyed a few relaxing drinks at the Playa Vista Bar and a manicure that afternoon on top of whatever else he had been doing on the intervening days.
Again quite some time later, strangely on Super Bowl night actually, our main actor in the saga turned up again, precisely on time for the football game and a stiff whisky. Ironically he was a true fanatic of one of the participants that night namely the Pittsburgh Steelers who were vying with the Seattle Seahawks to be crowned Super Bowl champs, but we swear that he never saw a single play… not in any of the game he was supposed to watch at Playa Vista that is for sure. He was far more interested in loud and not very clear-headed conversation with the other bar-guests around him, people who were actually trying to watch the game. We and the agitated bar-guests frankly breathed a sigh of relief when the troubled West Virginia man slipped off his bar stool and sauntered out at half time.
Yet more days further on and the vacation-loving friend was in the bar again explaining the same story about getting our man out of the country, but it still wasn’t easy because actually neither of them had passports by now and also their plane tickets had expired apart from any other problems that might be involved! The friend, being exactly that, listened to our report of the visitation on Super Bowl night, again took his time, had a few drinks and very supportively paid for his friends unpaid bar tab from that infamous Super Bowl night.
He shook our hands, wished us well and commented again on how he really must get the guy back home for some real help. All well and good we supposed… although we did see the friend again as recently as last week. We are just left to wonder what the West Virginian word for ‘mañana’ is!
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
We are currently in ‘Semana Santa’- literally ‘Easter Week’ – which to the unfamiliar is a great festive time for the locals here in Boca Chica in particular. People arrive in droves from nearby Santo Domingo to enjoy the balmy breezes, the sun and the sand of ‘The Capital’s Beach’ and quite naturally to also escape for a few hours from congested city life.
Of course this is just one week in the perennial life of sun and sand on Boca Chica’s fine beach, and more than rumor seems to indicate, that currently Boca Chica is finally getting the attention that it deserves… not just from the locals, but from the authorities in the Big City too.
In January (see archive Jan 27th) we referred to an initiative from Politur – the police arm of the Ministry of Tourism – an initiative that allegedly has been taken to put some new order into Boca Chica. Our watchwords were ‘time will tell’… and that unfortunately remains the case. The changes we have seen are a reduced number of stray dogs roaming the town, the cordoning off from cars at the ‘Andres end’ of the beach and in addition Politur have laid down the law, several times in fact, to us and all other legal businesses regarding our facilities and practices. They have made very clear the importance of presenting only invoices with the properly registered business name at the top, and that all those invoices when paid must be franked with an official “PAID” stamp clearly flaunting the business name. This is all to help eliminate illegal practices, particularly overpricing. Regrettably we continue to hear of and witness the illegal operators carrying on just as before without even a reprimand concerning their entirely illegal and unprincipled “businesses”. We remain however sitting on the uncertain fence on this one and patiently still keep the subject in the “time will tell” category.
On a different subject, but related to the further improvement of Boca Chica, a time-frame was actually bravely put forward by the Minister of Tourism recently. He officially mentioned a period of four months, specifically beginning at the end of the current month to be precise, during which four of the nation’s beaches, including that of Boca Chica, shall have major rehabilitation work carried out principally to reverse the sand and coral reef erosion that has taken place over the years. A European company with expertise in this area has been contracted, and the contract is said to be worth €13 million!
We at Playa Vista look forward to seeing you on a newly revamped Boca Chica Beach within well… four months?
‘Time will tell’ now won’t it!
Friday, April 21, 2006
Is supermarket shopping ever a frustrating experience for you?
We thought you might like to try this story out for size about a good friend of ours who went on a little local expedition for a few simple goodies and came back with absolutely nothing. Just to emphasize the point you should know that our friend, though an ex-pat, speaks fluent Spanish and remember that this expedition did not take place in one of those old communist countries, nor even in a current one such as North Korea or Cuba, but in the heart of our largest city, Santo Domingo, in one of the largest stores of the normally very well stocked and attended larger supermarket chains. So large indeed that the chain proclaims itself with the name “Jumbo”.
On entering the store he marched up to the regular meat counter where the previous week -by the way- he had been delightfully satisfied with the service of 100 grams of fillet of finest beef. So much so that he wanted to have the very same again this particular week. “No. We don’t sell it by the pound”. “You can buy the entire chunk of 10 lbs or not at all!” It was candidly not true, but the trickiest dilemma of all for our intrepid shopper was to convince the assistant of anything… least of all to give him just one tiresome pound of the delicious meat.
So he sloped off to get some 100% cotton socks. At the sock counter he couldn’t find what he wanted so he enlisted the “help” of another assistant. She pointed him to a section of what she thought he wanted. She rummaged very briefly and turned over a pair of socks and said, “There you are, that’s what you want.” Our friend looked at the label and noted instantly that it was clearly printed “100% polyamide.” He then said to the assistant, “Look here, this says 100% polyamide and I said I wanted 100% cotton.” “Yes that’s right, exactly the same thing,” she unhesitatingly and proudly responded. Totally nonplussed for an answer, our friend was now quite bewildered as to how to move on, in what way and where, let alone respond to this declaration.
He had actually come specifically for these two items, although he now realized with this mental buffeting there was another purchase he could make that could perhaps save his day. So he kind of drifted in the direction of the delicatessen stand for that third and face-saving item. He waited at the counter for several minutes while the lady on duty continued wrapping and packing various items with cellophane wrapping… not for anybody in particular because there wasn’t anybody else around. He then called her over and asked for 250 grams of cured ham. “Yes, certainly right away,” she said and went right back to her packing position and carried on packing. Our man waited a further five minutes meanwhile a number of other customers had gathered around in the hope of making purchases. The lady who had by now amply demonstrated her packing skills was called over again and began to attend directly to the other customers’ requests but not our friend’s who saw another period pass by without any movement on his request. He asked again (-actually he confessed to shouting this time-), “What about my *&%*#! cured ham?” “Oh, we don’t have any of that,” she said.
That was the end of our friend’s “Jumbo experience” and his relationship with them. He walked out completely empty-handed and flabbergasted vowing never to return ever again to that particular store on the Avenida Charles de Gaulle. He acknowledged he was thankful that capitalism really does hold sway here, because there are plenty of other supermarkets to choose from after all, as he relaxed with a drink in the Playa Vista bar recounting this particular supermarket adventure to us.
We heard that his next trip was nothing but successful not a single hitch but true to his word not at the Jumbo chain but at one of their big competitors, of course, Supermercado “Bravo”.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
We are back on the good-guy theme again. We are a full year on from those articles regarding Massachusetts Man and Philadelphia knight-in-shining-armor but true to the vein of those stories those two individuals have been up to their good deed tricks again this past “winter”. More stationery supplies delivered and yet more teeth filled at their expense. They are but two examples of the good works that we hear of from time to time: we are sometimes visited by coordinated groups who take time off from their chores while in this country to enjoy a day at the beach and fortunate enough to find them relaxing down on a sun lounger in front of Playa Vista and hear their stories of “trying to make a difference”.
The other day it was rather back to the individual although in truth it was more like a group rolled into an individual. It was when he started pulling medicine after medicine out of his pocket to show examples of what he was offering to some of the under privileged people in these parts that we started taking serious notice. He is not a doctor
-actually a historian- but in his vast experience of visiting poor neighborhoods, particularly in Africa, he has learned of the immense usefulness of basic hygiene knowledge and of always being ready with a bag of over-the-counter medicines and ointments. He has been doling out toothbrushes, dental floss, pain relievers, muscle relaxing creams as well as clothing mainly in Los Conucos (near Juan Dolio) on his latest trip although his first visit to the Dominican Republic saw him in the Las Terranas neighborhood near Samana. As the conversation progressed it became increasingly obvious that the man is actually a full-on professional humanitarian with the story deepening at each example of his attempts to put something back into life that has seemingly treated him well, though be it after a very difficult beginning.
His official move into the humanitarian arena began when he coupled his academic background and his belief in the power of education with his desire to give and formed the non-profit organization “South African Book Drive”. You can read more details regarding the man and his efforts at:
His efforts have led to more than three million books being distributed across southern Africa and he related to us his plans for helping further in the Dominican Republic. He talked of wanting to bring in 400 pounds of clothing a month and set up some academic programs in English. We naturally wish him the very best with his projects and suspect that he might be quite successful when we note that his organization is backed by a preponderance of people from the very same state of origin as Massachusetts Man.
Friday, May 5, 2006
The last time (February 15th) we were on the subject we more or less took the story of visitors to our island of Hispaniola up to one of those black-historical points in human history: the near extermination of the Taíno Indians which then leaves us to cover just the last 500 years or so.
By a clear margin the most famous of all visitors since that time is Christopher Columbus (whose name by the way in Spanish is not quite so famously known by English speakers to be Cristobal Colon). For such a prestigious visitor you would expect it to have been the all-expenses paid trip that it was but not such an obvious thing back in 1492. He was of course the first white man here and by default the first non-Indian visitor and the first ever person to come with a return trip-ticket. His all-inclusive ticket, along with many of the other paradise-seekers who came at that time, was paid for by the Spanish crown and it was the Spanish themselves who abruptly changed this style of paradise-seeking visitor when they started bringing in slaves from Africa who clearly had no hope of any kind of return ticket and were disgracefully brought in for no other reason than to replace those badly decimated Taíno Indians as laborers.
After that the next identifiable group of arrivals, in any significant numbers, was the French who took advantage of the Spanish being distracted by their insatiable search for greater wealth in other parts of South America. The French concentrated on the north and west of the island thereby explaining the current division between French-speaking Haiti and Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic. Interspersed in the early years the English too had their own style of visits with their particular specialty being pirate trips also usually all-inclusive. Most notable of all was that of Sir Francis Drake who just a little along the coast from us very successfully held Santo Domingo to ransom in 1586. By the end of the 19th century both Haiti and the Dominican Republic had established themselves as fully fledged republics even if it came with the usual bubbling turmoil you get between neighbors and visits, at least to this side of the border, both from Haiti and overseas have continued apace in one form or another ever since that time.
For example quite a sprinkling of Chinese can be found here including an up and coming Chinatown in Santo Domingo – as of writing an arch-type entrance way is being constructed, funded by Chinese businesses, at the intersection of Avenida’s Duarte and Mexico to designate the area. The Chinese began arriving from other Caribbean islands together with even greater numbers of other natives seeking regular work and opportunities from the 19th century onwards. Considerable numbers of Americans arrived in the early part of that century to set up plantations as many of the Europeans had done in the previous centuries and then the US army made its first visit in 1903, they certainly must have liked it because they came again in 1916 and stayed for a full eight years. They came again in 1965 but moved on much more quickly this time for they were gone by the following year.
Arabs formed the nucleus of another group of visitors, mainly Lebanese with lesser numbers of Palestinians and Syrians who first started arriving towards the end of the nineteenth century and continued to come and stay through the following century. A visit to one of the principal shopping areas in Santo Domingo, namely Avenida Duarte, reveals names on shop hoardings here and there directly reflecting this, one of the most familiar being the large department store under Lebanese-descended ownership: Plaza Lama.
A peek back to the last century shows that the most notable single groups with, at least, intentions to settle entered the country from the 1930s onwards. Many founded agricultural colonies that unfortunately very often didn’t work out as planned but of these groups there can still be found legacies of their presence here. Among the groups were German Jews (1930s), Japanese (after World War II), and Hungarians and Spaniards (both in the 1950s). Then more Chinese came from Taiwan and Hong Kong in the 1970s and 1980s actually making them second only to Haitians in numbers settling in the country.
Nowadays we have visitors all the year round of course and from all around the world, the majority of which return home tanned and relaxed, some choose to stay on and become ex-pats like ourselves and perhaps still the largest group who come in search of their own paradise or at least to escape the ravages of that desperately unstable seemingly impossible to govern neighbor of ours Haiti.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Last month (see blog – April 12th) we boldly dared to draw your attention to a couple of projects that seriously and officially had been placed on the Boca Chica developmental agenda by none less than the Tourist Minister himself… although our understanding of the natural rhythms of life in these parts led us, of course, to the only reasonable conclusion that “time will tell”! We would never wish to make undue anticipations or overexcite you true Boca Chica watchers out there, as we can state categorically that we have yet to see any evidence of those plans materializing whatsoever… but if we may be allowed to speculate a little, we do get the sense that Boca Chica is indeed creeping, however slowly, towards a change. It is, as we all know, difficult to predict the future but we would like to take this opportunity to run a few pointers together to help explain why we think that perhaps changes are genuinely imminent.
The easiest line of argument is that of inevitability. It is often repeated that Boca Chica is a real gem. It not only sits protected behind its own personal and natural lagoon with a fine sandy beach, but it is located ever so conveniently for the international airport of Las Americas International Airport which in turn feeds one of the largest cities in the Caribbean. That kind of combination alone is what developers and marketers around the world would usually give their right arms for!
Just the other day as if to directly confirm this we received a visit from some very go-ahead gents from Arizona in the US of A who had done their homework very well indeed and on an impressive basis of very exact knowledge about Boca Chica and the country in general had identified the Dominican Republic to have excellent potential for real estate and development projects… and for that same reason the mentioned gents had already established an office in Boca Chica. Welcome and good luck to them!
As for the two upcoming projects referred to back in April; as already mentioned we have yet to see anything further… although we do have it – as a matter of fact quite directly from the horse’s mouth – that the beach recovery program is approximately 3 months behind the original schedule referred to, and also a precise promise from the ‘Directora de Empresas y Servicios Turisticos’ (the person responsible nationally for all tourist businesses and services), finally for a swift and simple implementation of the regulations for all commercial operations on Boca Chica beach immediately following the mid-term elections on the 16th of the current month!
However… living in mañana-land we are not prepared to completely throw the “time will tell” wrapper out just yet! … after all the small matter of lamp number 25 in Calle Abraham Nunez still, yes still, has to be dealt with!
Friday, June 2, 2006
In order to keep you up to date with the sprinkling of visitors of an artistic persuasion we get at the Playa Vista Bar we thought we would introduce two artists from very different backgrounds we have had the pleasure of welcoming in recent times. To be honest the first one didn’t visit in person this time, but sent one of her rather spectacular works through a friend, although she herself has sipped on the Playa Vista Terraza several times in the past.
Her artistic name is Dawn Williams. Dawn produces bronze sculptures and her good friend and promoter of her works, Scott – on one of his occasional sorties to the south coast here from his usual stomping ground up around Sosua – came in and placed a rather beautiful 18” bronze sculpture of a donkey on the bar. Quite a heavy affair, but the donkey itself was carrying a far heavier weight – two milk urns strapped to its back to be exact. The sculpture was cast with unerring realism with the creature cast in action stumbling across the rugged terrain beneath his hooves. The donkey had broken its tether and was off to have some fun… the sculpture amusingly titled ‘mañana trabajo’ – “work tomorrow”. It seems that Dawn usually produces a limited number of the same work and that the mould of this model would be destroyed after the 27th casting… 27 as a tribute to the 27th day of February being this nation’s Independence Day. The figure we were able to admire was number four and interested parties would have to come up with a cool US$3,600 for the privilege of this mantelpiece item. If you hurry we believe there are still some available.
Visitor number two in this sequence is Arelis Aquino who has graced us with her presence many times over the years to soak up the sun on the beach and order her favorite Piña Colada drink. Arelis is Dominican although she has spent years living and working in Italy and has now presented us with two small books that she has published containing collections of her poetry in Spanish with full Italian translations.
The two creative individuals mentioned above, together with other visiting artists from the Dominican Republic as well as from abroad, all help to create a very engaging Playa Vista mix at times – a weird and wonderful kind of melting-pot- with all kinds of not only cultural but also artistic influences from all around the world.
So why not pop by and join the diverse crew of artists and other good folks enjoying the azure-blue Caribbean sun, sea and sand at Playa Vista?
Tuesday, June 6, 2006
Though a CNN headline the other day stated ‘World Cup frenzy leaves USA cold’ you certainly must be aware of the impending quadrennial sporting fiesta about to take place over in Germany this month. The quite accurately called ‘FOOTBALL WORLD CUP’ – not to be confused with the local annual American event often feigning the same title – is about to be kicked off with colorful participants from every corner of the world. The opening game this coming Friday is between the hosts and one of the gallant Latin American representatives, that of Costa Rica.
We are following the interest being generated in this international sporting extravaganza even in this far flung corner of the normally baseball-mad Dominican Republic and can’t help noting that the USA, currently fifth ranked in the world standings, will be there in force. Who knows how far they will go in awakening further deserved interest for all those American sports fans.
Brazil surely must continue to be the favorites… but our beach helper – a guy called Moreno who claims English ancestry – is firmly convinced that England will run out winners after his home team the Dominican Republic were eliminated by Trinidad and Tobago some two years ago in the preliminary rounds. Who knows… time will tell!
There are 32 countries participating and all except hosts Germany have had to work their way through difficult eliminatory groups to get to these final stages. Well done so far and let us hope that it is the kind of fair and entertaining competition the world’s sports enthusiasts deserve. Naturally we will be keeping a very close eye on events and on the big-screen TV at Playa Vista.
May the best team win!
Thursday, June 15, 2006
We from Playa Vista were invited by the President himself… having received not one but two cordial invitations to the inauguration of a plan of crime prevention and security for three residential and well known tourist areas in the south and one in the north of the country: the Colonial zone in Santo Domingo, good old Boca Chica, Juan Dolio further up the coast and Las Terrenas in the north.
In recent months we have been hinting at impending intervention one way or another by the authorities to make improvements in the Boca Chica environment, and here was the proof positive of at least the intent. The country as a whole has, after the chaos and affect of all too many economic scandals left by the former government, experienced an increase in crime levels which the current administration almost a year ago began trying to combat with a pilot plan of greater police presence and general security measures in one of the worst hit poorer areas of Santo Domingo, namely Capotillo.
In the fantastic setting of the impressive Parque Colón (Columbus Park) in Santo Domingo, right in front of the oldest Cathedral of the Americas, all the important dignitaries of the country, presided over by Leonel Fernández, gathered to give this ‘Plan de Prevención y Seguridad para las Zonas Turísticas’ a fine send off. On a very sunny almost breezeless morning we heard from one dignitary after the other the good reasoning and good intent for this plan. It is the fourth act in a very successful nationwide movement that as mentioned began in Capotillo last August. There will be more policemen, more vehicles – including brand spanking new Harley Davidson’s – and other equipment to support the plan principally initiated to assist in creating greater security for local citizens as well as touring visitors.
As was very evident that morning in Parque Colón the country has wonderful natural assets and a growing young population looking for the kind of direction specifically referred to by the various speakers at the inauguration. The country is in fact relatively new to modern democracy and therefore the possibilities are undoubtedly waiting to be harnessed. Alternatively, if you wanted, you could have shown up in the ‘Parque’ just for the spectacle and enjoy some of the natural displays that this multi-facetted country offers: the famous merengue singer Sergio Vargas and his band were there together with numerous other performers – some parading on stilts in grandiose costumes and others banging out quite a Caribbean rhythm on their drums – all exuberantly enhanced by the innate enthusiasm and energy of the cheering people.
The Procurator General in particular talked of future possibilities… stressing that improved security is a symbol representing nothing less than the advance of the country carrying the hope that it contributes to the Dominican Republic in the future being one of the most visited places in the Caribbean! We from Playa Vista Boca Chica hope and think so too… the Latin-Caribbean is – sure thing – up and coming!
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Recently we were able to have a lengthy chat with a well-informed Boca Chica visitor and Playa Vista customer who gave us some interesting insight on the well-known Boca Chica Hamaca Coral by Hilton Hotel where he is a regular guest.
The hotel is by far the biggest in Boca Chica and is renowned for its international service but also, it has to be said, here in Boca Chica, sometimes renowned for its self sufficient insularity.
Hamaca gains the insularity accolade for three principal reasons: it sits, kind of hidden away, at the furthest end of the beach from Santo Domingo… it is separated from the rest of Boca Chica beach by a very divisive wall… and it is common knowledge that the tour operators and other staff inside the hotel advise their guests not to venture out into the Boca Chica town.
Thankfully our “informant” is one who does not take kindly to that particular piece of advice to stay put behind ‘The Wall’… because he likes to break out and get in to town to savor how the ”real” Latin Carribbean world operates!
Here is what our man is saying about life behind ‘The Wall’:
Last October – after arriving and finding his bathroom to be out of soap – he called down to the hotel’s front desk and asked for some. “We don’t have any, but as soon as we do we will deliver it to your room”, the person on duty told him. Maybe they never actually got any, because he never received the awaited delivery during his stay and decided, adventurous as he is, to make the trek to the town’s local supermarket to secure his own supply… no big thing, but let us listen to other snippets he had to report on.
Apart from the roving sellers themselves nobody is very happy about the numbers of salesmen and women strolling around importuning visitors relaxing along the full length of the Boca Chica beach. One of the advantages in staying inside the Hamaca compound, we were always led to believe, was to be free of this kind of hassle. Our friend told us that on two separate counts this is not the case. Firstly the very keenest sellers will apparently swim around the hotel’s controversial barrier wall and from the waist deep protection of the water offer their wares in spite of the shouting Hamaca guards trying to ward them off. On top of that, and quite ironically too, our friend further told us that in spite of the no-salesman rule on the Hamaca’s beach apparently there is an in-house coterie of timeshare salespeople who can at times make you yearn to be precisely somewhere else in order to get that peace and relaxation you came for!
On a less daily basis the Hamaca also suffers the finger of criticism for two very fundamental reasons – both actually attributed to that infamous wall. One reason is a hottish potato in the Dominican press of late relating to the laws of the land determining that all beaches should be accessible to the public. As already indicated that kind of access is definitely questionable concerning the beach inside the Hamaca compound… and you don’t have to be a salesman to find out, our friend tells us. Even the most innocent looking beach-guests – be it international tourists or local ‘Capitaleños’ – will be dissuaded by the guards from making any attempt to clamber over ‘The Wall’. The second reason is that scientific studies in recent years have shown that the very existence of ‘The Wall’ has exacerbated the severe beach erosion that has taken place on the “public” beach adjacent to it on the west side!
Having said all that… to put Hotel Hamaca in perspective it too has to be said that it is definitely not only the largest but the most prestigious hotel in Boca Chica sporting a four-star rating and offering gainful employment to many local people… but perhaps the message, from the perspective painted here, is that the Hamaca would be well advised to go straight and, to the benefit of itself as well as Boca Chica, get rid of the questionable wall and become naturally integrated with the Latin Carribbean flavored Boca Chica community in general and especially the Boca Chica beach that sports the big azure-blue reef-protected bay called ‘the biggest bathtub in the world’!
Anyway… if you, during your stay in good old Boca Chica, should choose to stay at The Hamaca do yourself a big favor and don’t let yourself become a prisoner behind ‘The Wall!
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
We have on more than one occasion referred to the procession of types that pass through and by our Playa Vista enclave… both invited and uninvited. For example some of you will remember that persistent green woodpecker (see archives Sept. 29, 2004 or Feb. 19, 2005), who incidentally has not entirely given up his visits but is very much less aggressive in attacking the structure of our buildings than in the past…. Maybe he has learned the art of Caribbean easygoingness or maybe he’s worn out or… perhaps both?
Anyway… towards the end of a quiet Caribbean day recently a very small scrawny largely tabby kitten appeared in our courtyard, and once that first bowl of milk was provided she stayed all night right next to the empty bowl. Within a whisker of a time she fitted right in to the pattern of the constantly moving lifestyle that Playa Vista presents. A few more bowls of milk and a couple of German sausages later her scrawniness had gone even if her smallness hadn’t.
We have now had time to thoroughly associate ourselves with her and perhaps more importantly her with us, and by all observations her personality seems to be exactly ideal. She is extremely affectionate but not over-doting, curious beyond the norm, adaptable, forgiving, and definitely agile as proven by her attempts to trip up the Italian football players on Playa Vista’s giant screen in the World Cup semi-final. By all accounts she has already used up a good part of her nine lives. Before arriving at Playa Vista she was witnessed by a neighbor who claimed that some very heartless individual decided to toss her far out in to the ocean after she made her first venture on to the beach. After being rescued by another, this time valiant, passer-by she then had to be hooked from underneath the noses of the feral dogs loping around on the beach and placed behind the safety of the Playa Vista gate.
She does seem extremely happy to be here, definitely she is thriving and for now she is very welcome. We just don’t have a name for her yet. She is called anything from Kitty through Mis Mis to Katzen-Jammer. If she stays on we probably have to come up with a proper one.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
For sure there is a Dominican postal system though be it quite low profile run by the Instituto Postal Dominicano – presenting itself with the not so abbreviated abbreviation of ‘INPOSDOM’. It is a national public organization with a very large office in the center of Santo Domingo. Boca Chica has its own office though understandably far smaller and appears to employ one counter assistant, one post mistress and one or two delivery men. It is not entirely clear what the post office’s range of services is because, in the Boca Chica office at the least, there are absolutely no leaflets or signs indicating what services they might offer. However you would be right in assuming they sell stamps for parcels and letters and their postmen do deliver mail. Perhaps that is indeed the full range of services, who knows?
Our own experiences regarding the receipt of standard mail from Europe, for example, are extremely varied. The letter can take any number of weeks from a very reasonable one to a very unreasonable twenty… or simply never turn up at all. Outgoing mail can suffer the same degree of irregularity, by the way, and it seems to make no difference if you opt for the express service – a little more expensive – over the regular service.
Here we would merely like to pass on some information regarding the delivery of packets that caused a little confusion and surprise in our midst recently.
One of the postmen from the Boca Chica office turned up the other day with an A4 sheet of paper indicating that a package was available for delivery to Playa Vista, but that the package itself was in Santo Domingo at the aforementioned large central offices. He said we could go and pick the package up ourselves and it would cost us 100 pesos to retrieve it… or he himself could go and fetch it and boldly “suggested” a pick up charge, significantly higher, of 1000 pesos. Presented with these two, to us, non-regular options for a package already fully paid for at the other end by the dispatcher for complete delivery, we went along to the local post office to ask for clarification and for your information here it is:
If the package is ‘large’ – not clear what constitutes large but seemed to approximate to the outstretched arms of the postmistress – the local post office receives written notification which is presented by the postman at the receiving address… and as the postman correctly stated you can take this presented paper to Santo Domingo along with 100 pesos and a copy of your identification in exchange for your package OR, not quite so correctly stated by the postman, you can request the postman to act on your behalf… but he has got to get permission from the postmistress to go to the pick-up place in Santo Domingo and he should also inform you that the obligatory cost is 100 pesos plus the transport costs which the post mistress specifically spelled out to be 120 pesos!
We are not entirely sure of the relevance, but it was a bit strange that the day after asking for this clarification by the postmistress, the previously very conversational postman frantically did his best to ignore us as we passed within a hair’s breadth of him the following morning… Strange, eh?
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Those of you who have been on the Playa Vista terraza of late may have noticed the energetically darting figure of our newest family member namely the largely tabby kitten we talked about in our blog entry earlier this month. No sooner was the ink dry from that story, than she suddenly and sadly disappeared. All the familiar speculations and sentiments went with the loss… perhaps she had been stolen… hope she is being looked after wherever she got to… how sad that after getting so used to her following us so loyally around the place there is now just an empty space where her fragile little body used to appear… etc. etc.
About 48 hours later we found her no further than 5 meters away clinging to the top of the corrugated zinc fence surrounding the vacant lot immediately next door bleating her heart out. It was an easy job to rescue her down, but she definitely had been in the wars out there in the big world. It would seem that all this time she had been entangled in what for a little kitten must have been the vastness of an overgrown jungle… namely the vacant property next door. Our miniature tiger did come back with a couple of nasty scars on her belly as proof of her personal fight for survival in the wild jungle. She seemed to have regressed to the extreme hesitancy of the first day she appeared at Playa Vista, but the good ending to the story is that after we smeared some non-astringent vitamin ointment on her wounded area – not to mention another serving or two of German sausages – she swiftly recovered her familiarity and she is now well and truly back in her self-chosen role as the newest and tiniest member of the international Playa Vista Family.
Friday, August 11, 2006
In Boca Chica television services can be served up via an aerial antenna picking up the dozen or so Dominican terrestrial channels, via satellite beamed in from the USA or by cable provided by ‘Economitel’.
Economitel has certainly served us well over the last few years and it seems as though they are planning to maintain if not improve their level of service and have even, with us at least, lived up to the economization implied by the company name, though it did happen in a round about kind of way.
The company is very local indeed serving just Boca Chica, Andres and Caleta… and small though they are they do offer a full range of approximately 70 channels with about a dozen in English and one in each of French, Italian and German. We have been paying for three connections since the time the company established itself more than 5 years ago and paying what we thought to be a very reasonable 850 pesos (about US$26) per month for this service. In July we suddenly received a bill for 1200 pesos without any prior notification of increases whatsoever. We naturally enquired of the company what this was all about, when we next time visited their office. They actually had a couple of posters up indicating that prices had been raised because they already had started increasing, and would continue to increase, the number of channels supplied and that new codified digital set-top boxes would be provided in August to further upgrade the quality of their service although those who had maintained their accounts would not be charged for these boxes.
We noted that the standard price increase was 25%, tax included, and immediately wondered why ours was closer to a whopping 50% hike. It soon became clear that they had re-categorized our usage as fully commercial, but it didn’t take us long to put two and two together and realize that if we presented our factual residential credentials then the price would naturally fall. Those credentials were verified the next day by a couple of technicians who didn’t hesitate to classify our current use as indeed purely residential.
A few days later and the front desk administrator, now with discernible reluctance, –presumably motivated by her boss who she kept on talking to in low murmurs over the phone while we “negotiated” with her – slowly recognized that she really would have to lower the tariff in line with their own very clear regulations. The final result would now be a monthly 650 pesos -a worthwhile economy of 200 pesos- and far removed from the original starting point of 1200 pesos. We couldn’t tell what the boss was muttering to himself behind his glass screen as we bid them all a good day on leaving… but for some reason he didn’t seem quite as pleased as us.
Anyway… the future certainly holds bright for Economitel if they continue to offer the considerate economy options to their long-term customers as presented to us and also introduce an alternative internet service before the end of the year as they claim they will.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
How many man hours does it take to send a fax in the Dominican Republic?
A good friend of ours is for personal reasons earnestly trying to sell his property. He had passed a number of the procedural bridges and reached the advanced and important point whereby the buyer’s lawyer’s secretary called him at about 2 pm one afternoon explaining that they needed a copy of the plan of the property by closing time (6pm), in order to urgently push the sale along.
Four hours to go, our friend thought, should be straight forward, time to spare….
His first obstacle, after rummaging through his personal papers, was to discover that the plan was considerably larger than a regular A4 size and would need to be reduced before a fax could be sent. He ambled along to the local Tricom telephone call center where he unfortunately discovered that the copying machine was broken. He didn’t know of another place off hand to visit and decided, with clearly so much time to spare, to take the short journey back home where he thought he would wait for his housekeeper, Nanny, who was suposed to be turning up escorted by her husband, Perrin, on his motorcycle at 3pm, in order to engage their help.
First off he sent them to the Costa Lunga hotel where he had some time in the past used their copying and fax services. The Costa Lunga’s machine was also out of service! Nanny and Perrin persevered and three more establishments later were able to reduce the plan to A4 size and returned to our friend’s home in semi-triumph. At this precise moment the lawyer’s secretary called to ask, “Have you sent the fax?” “No, but it will be with you in the next 10 minutes”, our friend confidently added. This was because Nanny and Perrin were already off again on the motorbike, this time to the Verizon call and fax center. 30 minutes later Nanny and Perrin returned crestfallen to announce that the fax had not gone through even though they had tried four times. Our friend called the secretary assuming they had a problem with the machine at the lawyer’s end. “No problem at all!” the secretary confidently claimed. “I am sitting right beside it, it is switched on and I can confirm that the number you are using is correct”.
For the first time our friend was beginning to feel anxious about meeting the deadline, for time was marching swiftly on and all he had to show for the effort so far was an A4 reduction of the original plan. He now presumed the problem to be at the Verizon center. He was on the point of sending Nanny and Perrin off again when his landlord turned up and suggested the local pharmacy might have a fax machine. Our friend was rapidly learning the art of pragmatism. He sent the landlord off to the nearby pharmacy, Nanny and Perrin again on the motorbike further afield and he himself went to another call center round the corner. The pharmacy used to have a fax machine but no longer… and the local call center does have a fax machine but only for receiving faxes! Father time’s big hand was now pointing to the 5 on the clock as our friend returned home again and as the phone rang, the secretary asked once more, “Have you sent the fax?” “Not quite yet, but soon”, he said with discernibly less authority than before.
Very soon after that Nanny and Perrin came back with triumph written all over their faces. “It went through,” Nanny whooped. So our friend got straight on to the secretary and asked: “Have you got the fax?” “Well,” she nervously exclaimed, “no! We’ve just now figured it out at this end. We’ve noticed that there is no ink cartridge in our fax machine”.
Now our friend was not only nervous but a little something else as well, but controlling himself admirably he asked, “What now then?” “Take a note of our address and send it by regular mail”, she responded. “What! By the Dominican postal service to arrive tomorrow and it is past 5 o’clock now? (see July 22nd blog on the Dominican postal service) For heaven’s sake give me another fax number”. He could hear the secretary asking around her office if anybody had any ideas on this, and a few minutes later she was able to offer another number. The motorbike was gunned into action again and off went Nanny and Perrin and came back with yet more triumphant smiles. “It went through”, they said with their newfound glee. Even though it was now 6.15 pm our friend made his last call hoping against hope that more or less four hours work put in by three people had yielded the result he wanted. Good… the secretary was still there. Again, “Have you got the fax?” “How could I possibly know that,” she said, “the other fax machine isn’t in this office!”
So, the answer to the initial question in this case is about 12 man hours… that is if the fax arrived at all!
Saturday, September 2, 2006
Have you been missing the umbrella stories? Well they are back… in a strange kind of way.
Just to get you in the mood try this one on for size:
A very workmanlike guy of about 45 to 50 came into Playa Vista one Sunday recently because he had spotted a couple of our worst umbrellas sitting in the corner awaiting some kind of repair attention. He offered to fix them for us. We suggested he could look through our stock and then tell us what he could fix and how much he would charge.
He hooked out about five or six and explained his plan of sewing and/or gluing in various needy places, and that he would charge 300 pesos for fixing all. We thought that would be reasonable and immediately agreed. He said he would need 100 pesos to buy some glue. We duly gave him the 100 pesos and he left the premises quirkily pointing out that he had deposited his little black work bag in the corner. We even put it into safe keeping for him in our office. He returned, with some glue, retrieved his bag from the office and took out some green cloth that he started cutting into pieces and stuck on two gaping holes on two of our very oldest Presidente umbrellas. We seemed to be well on course… meanwhile he had opened up all of the umbrellas and with a growing number of people and vehicles arriving and leaving on this busy Sunday morning it turned into quite an obstacle course for the coming and going cars as they tried to negotiate their way round the umbrellas that were waiting for the glue to dry or for further repair. Well, we waited as the sun beat down and the glue dried. The glue dried some more and we removed one umbrella from the entrance way to the bathroom by necessity while the glue continued to dry and dry… but our repair man had vanished into thin air and by this time conclusively no sign of his little black bag either.
He had gone… a kind of a swindle, but not too bad in that we did get two repaired umbrellas out of it. However, in this country with its low labor rates his half hour of work came a bit steep at 100 pesos.
In contrast if you stroll by or through Playa Vista these days, you will notice three new Presidente umbrellas as well as three new rather elegant and appropriately coordinated red umbrellas adorning the terraza presented to us by Ambev in their efforts to further promote the Brahma beer. We have to be honest and mention that sales of Brahma have been disappointingly slow in spite of an attractive price cut vis-à-vis the old stalwart: Presidente. We will be very intrigued to see if these new umbrellas help Brahma matters along. Time will tell!
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Ever had a paint job done in the Dominican Republic?
One of our Playa Vista friends recently agreed to rent an apartment here in Boca Chica for his regular visits to this little corner of paradise in order to relax from work pressures in other parts of the world. He was very pleased with his new found home away from home… all apart from the color that is. He stated very clearly to the landlord that it was only the very decidedly pink nature of his bedroom he didn’t like. The rest of the house was absolutely fine in standard white. If he could just have the bedroom changed. Well… he went ahead; selected and bought a can of paint that he thought would be acceptable and noted it was labeled as “marfil” (ivory). The landlord’s son – very much in on the whole escapade, including the original conversation with the landlord – did the work and our friend was delighted with the outcome both the color and the standard of the workmanship.
Seeing that the workmanship was good and for the sake of uniformity he decided to invest some more and have the rest of the apartment also painted the same ‘marfil’ color. He bought an enormous drum of new paint with “marfil” clearly marked on the lid, for about 100 dollars, brushes, thinner and whatever else the landlord’s son would need to complete the job, while our friend took a flight out and went back to his work. Our friend even called and spoke to the landlord’s son to ask if everything was all right. ‘No problema!’ ‘Everything absolutely fine’. ‘Paint job all finished and ready for your arrival’. “All right then, I’ll be there in about a week to see it for myself.”… Kind of conversation.
He flew into town and hurried to his new found newly painted apartment thinking to start a relaxing hassle-free stay in town. He stood aghast at the entrance to the apartment, as soon as he opened the front door. The paint job had been executed perfectly it seemed. He was merely aghast because everything was the very same awful PINK that the bedroom had been, all mercifully except his bedroom which, at least, was still ivory. Every other room was the same totally unacceptable pink… even the previously acceptable white ceilings had now been touched up with ‘decorative’ pink center-pieces round the light fittings!
He could at least go to sleep that night surrounded by the only four ivory walls still standing in his apartment while he contemplated how he would go about rectifying the situation. Would he invest another 100 dollars in paint? – ‘probably’. Would he get the landlord’s son to do it again? – also ‘probably’. Would he have the job done while he was away again? – “absolutely not”. Would he personally check that the label indicating the color and the actual color of the paint inside the bucket coincided before the work began? – “very definitely!”
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Does helping children pander to your altruistic conscience? Then how about helping children with cancer? In the Dominican Republic that is precisely the goal of one of our regular visitors at the Playa Vista bar.
Around the Playa Vista premises cancer may not be the favorite subject of conversation,
but… to the future benefit of a lot of kids in this part of the world cancer has become a major focus of attention for one of our regulars, Chris Phillips, who is in fact a third year medical student studying far from his Californian origins at the Universidad Iberoamericana – ‘UNIBE’ – Santo Domingo. Together with a good friend of his from the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore they have very recently made solicitation in the USA for full 501-3C charity status with the specific intention of helping children with diagnosed cancer. The name of the charity is ‘The Caribbean Cancer Foundation’ and the Dominican Republic is to be the initial recipient of the Foundation’s help.
Our two medical friends explained to us that there is one very fine established organization in this country committed exclusively to diagnosing and treating children’s cancer: the ‘Instituto Oncológico Doctor Heriberto Pieter’ in Santo Domingo which offers its services to the children with the support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Tennessee. Unfortunately, however, even the combined efforts of these two fine institutions only digs partially into the problem of children’s cancer here. At the time of talking, only approximately half of the 300 diagnosed cases of children suffering from cancer were being treated and the remaining 150 or so can only wait. Additionally our friends stressed that an even bigger problem is the unknown numbers of children unknowingly suffering the grim disease, who, if diagnosed earlier, could be helped in a significant way… and that is precisely where it is hoped their new charity will step in.
The two initiative takers themselves pointed out that it is not just the agents, drugs and medical equipment that the children need, but all kinds of supportive items right down to used toys, that for example can help enormously in entertaining during the times the children are receiving treatment. In their own words they would dearly love to be able to significantly augment the work already being done, and their aim is to build up significant financial support from around the world to make this possible. They have already made contact with some high profile charities and personalities on the world stage and if their good intentions are any kind of marker, some of the less fortunate children in our corner of the world could soon be welcoming beneficiaries of their efforts.
If you should feel like adding your help, one way or the other, you can get in touch with the foundation via Chris at email@example.com.
Thursday, October 5, 2006
We visited the local municipal council offices – in the center of town a very short stone’s throw from the Central Park – last month with the simple intention of paying Playa Vista’s regular garbage collection bill… and ended up noticing that even in Boca Chica ‘the times they are a changing’!
Without much thought we went as “usual” to the rear entrance because construction, reconstruction, additions and renovations had been going on for so long it had become normal for us to step over and around building materials and certainly never walk through the main front entrance due to it being constantly blocked and or locked apparently due to the constant program of building works.
On reflection it seems to us that the changes are further evidence of the continuing modernization of our little town which, as far as civic administration is concerned, took a significant leap forward exactly four years ago when it was designated as independent from the control of Santo Domingo for the first time and duly elected its own mayor and governing council.
As the seat of operations it is obvious that quite some importance has been attached to this, the principal office, as we looked around with new eyes on this day. At least in the rear bill-paying section each of the small operation rooms seem to be fully fitted with computers, monitors and printers… all in a fully air-conditioned environment and on the day in question, for the first time ever, we received our refuse collection receipt of payment in the form of a computer print-out. We could see down the hallway of the main building that the front entrance was now open and we ambled towards the entrance increasingly taking note of the changes that had taken place and were now on view. We noticed a large conference room on the right furnished with top quality wooden chairs and a very large conference table and then passed towards and through the front entrance which itself had a smart reception desk.
As we spilled out on to the street the impact of the improvements was complete when we stood and took in the fullness of the impressive main entrance area. The large brass lettering of “AYUNTAMIENTO MUNICIPAL DE BOCA CHICA” arcing across the high arch supported on Roman columns leaves you in no doubt as to this is where you will find Boca Chica´s municipal council. The entire frontage, and exterior of the building for that matter, is painted a calming and pleasant cyan color bordered attractively in white and last, but not least, there are neatly planted garden areas with flowers and palm trees on either side at ground level before you walk up the four tiled-steps to the main entrance.
All this – for better and for worse – an extreme far cry from when we arrived to a Boca Chica that looked a lot like a stage-set for an old wild-west movie almost ten years ago, we reminisced. We trust that the newly elected mayoral government of Joselín Peña, as only Boca Chica´s second, will be able to get down to some serious work in the modern and comfortable environment they now have created and finally give a substantial, objective and positive helping hand in the ongoing renovation of Boca Chica beach and the general modernization of good old Boca Chica… but that, of course, knocks on the door of politics and is a story for a different time.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
As many of you will know… from the Playa Vista Terrace we look right out on rather a spectacular view! We much admire and appreciate the natural view of the reef, the Caribbean Ocean surf breaking on that same reef and the multi-hued colors of the tropical sea and sky at all times and especially at sun-down when we can take special advantage of that view directly from the bar. However, over to the west we have witnessed a much debated spectacular change taking place over the years, but in this case a change purely of the manmade type.
As we told you back in Aril 2004: ‘The only evidence of man’s engineering in the direction of the Caucedo peninsula used to be the arrival and departure of airplanes as they headed to and from the runway of Santo Domingo’s principal International Airport located in the middle of the peninsula and by the way no more than a convenient 10 minutes by taxi from Playa Vista’s central location. Over the years the skyline has changed quite dramatically, but it is at night that the developments are particularly notable, as they are all accompanied by quite spectacular lighting arrangements – the kind of unfailing light-show that would be the envy of quite a number of parts of the country that are often subject to complete and extended black-outs’.
The first development was the construction of a large liquid natural gas (LNG) storage tank together with jetty, right on the tip of the peninsula, for the incoming tankers to berth and offload their cargoes. This development was followed by the construction of an electricity generating station immediately adjacent to the gas tank and then last, but most certainly not least, came the deep-water Caucedo ‘MegaPort’ itself.
The first two projects generate little observable movement except for the occasional Trinidadian tanker pulling in and discharging its gas, but the MegaPort facility is quite a different matter and in recent weeks we have noticed a considerable upsurge in movement to and from the facility.
In spite of the super-fast modern turnaround times some of the ship’s crews sometimes do find the time to visit us at Playa Vista, to touch firm ground and swig down a cold beer before they are off again. Recently we were visited by the captain of a Croatian vessel that has a circular agenda taking in Brazil, Argentina and Mexico before returning again 42 days later to Boca Chica. Others in the bar were sufficiently curious to pry other details from the off-duty Captain. As far as he was concerned his company, Hapag-Lloyd, now regard Boca Chica as the key port in this part of the globe and that the turn around times are particularly rapid… in fact just around eight hours! He also told us that as far as his ship was concerned, with a load of 3,500 containers, it was just of average size; some of the ships come in carrying over 5000 containers! On this particular day he said that they would be off-loading about 15% of their cargo, underlining the fact that most of the shipments are not in-bound, but destined to go out again as this port is specifically for trans-shipment.
All this extra activity is no doubt good for the contiguous areas of Andres and La Caleta, but actually has little direct impact on us in Boca Chica because those mariners just don’t get the time to hang around very long due to the modern efficiencies of loading and unloading containers. Right from the start there have been rumors circulating of further port expansion and development including provision for Cruise Liners. Now that would, for better and for worse, help liven up the immediate area in a big way! But, we are after all located in the laid-back sunny Caribbean so as usual – as with so many other rumored and/or planned projects – have to repeat the mantra: ‘time will tell’!
Thursday, November 9, 2006
We live on an island… which by definition means we and everybody else living here is separated from the rest of the world by water, and in our particular case rather a lot of it!
What about travels by sea then? It turns out that the only regular fare-paying route from our Caribbean island is to the neighboring island of Puerto Rico – officially a United States territory with Commonwealth status.
It was one of Playa Vista’s good customers who recently checked out this travel option and alerted us to the possibility. He explained that he boarded the MS Caribbean Express just up the road at the Sans Souci terminal in Santo Domingo ready for the 8 pm departure… and exactly12 hours later docked in the Puerto Rican port of Mayaguez.
He spoke very highly of the trip. The one way fare, including room, in his case was US$85. After that he paid a US$20 bus fare to get to the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan. The restaurant provided an all-you-can-eat buffet at a very reasonable US$12.50 with drinks prices, in our friend’s opinion also, being moderate. On the boat there is a small casino area, but it was the four hour show of comedy, dancing and music that he was particularly impressed with. If you should need further information the web site address of the ferry company is: www.ferriesdelcaribe.com
There is a sea-going alternative to this pleasant cruiser-like trip, where you don’t even need a passport… but, the method, security, money involved and guarantees are of quite a different order. Here it is known as traveling by ‘yola’ (a small wooden boat) and you would have to know a man who knows a man who runs these slow moving vessels of questionable quality in the dark of night usually from unspecified locations in the east of the country. The intended destination is said to be some remote beach on that same island of Puerto Rico often close to Mayaguez actually and we have heard the fee is something in the much steeper region of 10,000 pesos, and that is if you know the man who knows a man very well. Unfortunately the lack of guarantees includes never knowing if you will arrive or not, and even more decidedly… whether you will even survive or not. So… we at Playa Vista would naturally recommend the MS Caribbean Express if you’re in the lucky position of owning something as luxurious as a passport!
Assuming you have the right passport you can of course buy a plane ticket and fly just about anywhere in the world from the Las Americas International Airport tucked conveniently in behind the “MegaPort” on the Caucedo peninsula a kind of a stone’s throw from Playa Vista, but there is somewhat of a touchy passport issue related to the whole travel subject for most of the people who are Dominican nationals. A little research reveals that if you were to possess just a Dominican passport then the number of countries in the world that will accept you without first applying for a none-too-easy to achieve visa are in a very exclusive and quite fancy list, namely: Argentine, Chile, South Korea, Ecuador, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Peru, Lichtenstein and Uruguay!
Our exotic Latin Caribbean island is of course glad of these few connections but surely needs to work at spreading it’s net of international ‘friends’ further… now doesn’t it?
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Boca Chica and Santo Domingo are supplied with water for domestic use by a government public service institution that goes by the name of Corporación de Acueductos y Alcantarillados de Santo Domingo (CAASD). In keeping with the general “modernization” trend of this country the concept that “user must pay” is slowly but surely being addressed by CAASD in particular, as they strive to install meters for all users. Earlier in the year a CAASD report indicated that only 50% of clients actually pay for their water, and only 25% had water meters connected to their lines.
We shall move swiftly over one observable kink in this story, in that here at Playa Vista we actually had a meter installed some years ago, but… in April this year the company obviously determined that it should be replaced along with all the others in the neighborhood.
First month everything went swimmingly, but when, in the second month after installation, we received an invoice approximately quadruple the normal level alarm bells started ringing. It jolted memories of our fiasco with EdeEste (the local electricity distributor) last year when, in spite of the usual very steady consumption, to our horror and grief, we received a bill five times higher than normal. (See blog Feb 5th 2006) Our experiences at that time led us to believe that unfortunately EdeEste obviously were taking the motto of ‘user pays’ one step further: “non-user” can also be made to pay if you flex your monopoly muscle the ‘right’(read ‘wrong’) way!
Meanwhile… enquiries at the Boca Chica CAASD office indicated that some kind of technical adjustment had been made to the new meter after installation and that this data was in the “archives”. Well, the archives remained well and truly shut for a couple of months and there was no movement on our account or any explanation until one fine day we called Mr. Steve Lora in the CAASD Santo Domingo office.
For those of you who don’t know the workings in this country too well, you should know that a phone call can be the beginning of a long and enduring journey that may or may not wind its way to a conclusion one day in the distant future. In this case the number we dialed gave us the precise man in question whose details incidentally were given to us quite correctly by the man who reads the meter. Mr. Lora listened attentively to our story, admitted he had no record of any problem on his computer screen, but if we could kindly ring back after 3 pm he would have an answer for us. A little after 3 pm we called -admittedly dubiously so- but again surprisingly got through immediately and directly to Mr. Lora himself. As promised he had the details and explained that we didn’t need to pay the current bill because the company did in fact owe us money; with two of our last unpaid bills taken into account precisely 26 pesos and this would be reflected in next month’s bill. And… surprise surprise it was!
People around the bar were quite staggered by this unheard of hiccupless tale and one of our good friends enlisted our help to talk to the same Mr. Lora recently to see if we could help to resolve his more serious problem with the same organization. As before Mr. Lora was there to field the call. As before he listened attentively… and then promptly shouted across the office to a member of his team to cancel the order to suspend our friend’s water supply! An inspector would be sent to find out why our good friend was being charged an excessive amount of money for a meter with a serial number unrelated to the one immediately outside his house!
The next week we called Mr. Lora again to get some news about the result of the inspection. He clarified that the problem was one of “crossed” meters, “but wait on the line, don’t say anything while I speak to my assistant”, he added. In addition to “user pays” often being a foreign concept here “transparency” is another concept that slides exactly into the same envelope, so we were amazed while we heard him explain to his assistant in customer-favorable tones that he must have the recalculated bill at the latest by the end of the day because he was talking to the customer right now. “Did you hear all that?” asked Mr. Lora. “Yes we sure did, thank you”, we gratefully replied. He then finished with, “Your friend’s next bill should see the matter sorted out”, which we surely now have to be far less dubious about.
So a big ‘thumbs up’ for Mr. Lora and CAASD from Playa Vista and perhaps, next month’s invoice permitting, one of Playa Vista’s good old friends too!
Thursday, December 7, 2006
If you had ventured down to the Boca Chica beach early on Sunday morning, you would – apart from yet another beautiful sunlit Caribbean morning – also have been able to see the beginning of an extremely audacious journey. At 8.20 am a young Dominican man going by the name of Marcos Diaz launched himself into the gentle waters in front of the Hamaca hotel with the intention of swimming not just the length of the tranquil Boca Chica lagoon but out into the open sea in Andres, against the currents that would have driven any normal mortal straight back into the bay, around the Caucedo peninsula and all the way down the coast to the Malecon in Santo Domingo – a distance of an impressive 50 km in all.
He began the swim with a great cheer from a large number of well wishers and was followed by a small escort vessel and also a very vociferous group made up largely of youngsters running along the beach enthusiastically encouraging him along. The aim for Marcos Diaz was twofold: to break a Caribbean and central American record for 50 km swimming in open waters and to do so in front of the Dominican public for the first time.
The brave swimmer was certainly unknown to us before Sunday – and surprisingly to rather a lot of Dominicans too – hence his desire to establish a record in home waters. In actual fact Marcos Diaz is a Dominican long distance swimmer of world renown. He has swum the English Channel and holds the world record for a return swim across the Straits of Gibraltar… and on Sunday he achieved his goal in the record time of 10 hours and 36 minutes. So, rather nice to know that the world famous also swim in front of Playa Vista even if they don’t necessarily have time to stop for a drink!
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Rumors are very much part of our small Boca Chica community and no less so concerning possible changes on the beach. We at Playa Vista have been inferring such for quite some time now (see blogs of January 27th, April 12th, May 17th) but we have been very reluctant to make any further announcements because those rumors tend to be no more and no less than…rumors.
It is a fact that a contract was signed with, amongst others, a Dutch land reclamation company to carry out a major revitalization project on five beaches in the Dominican Republic including Boca Chica which, in our local eyes, regrettably was positioned last on the list.
Well, the work began at the end of July on Puerto Plata’s Long Beach and reports made by visitors to Playa Vista from the north coast indicate that a very fine professional job has been done up there. It is also a fact that work has begun in Juan Dolio… the fourth beach on the list, but as we write, it is another sobering fact that absolutely no work has been begun in Boca Chica although numerous rumors have given numerous starting dates.
The Minister of Tourism made a television announcement that one of the three large hotels in Boca Chica (Hamaca, Dominican Bay and Don Juan) was now refusing to stump up its apparently previously agreed share of the funds for the work that was originally demanded by the public sector of the three mentioned hotels… and therefore the Dutch team of workers would be leaving after they finished in Juan Dolio if the hotel in question did not provide its share.
The very latest rumor that we have heard – and we stress we still have not seen any action at all – is that unless the collective hotels comply with the funding requirement the authorities will remove the artificial barriers that protect or semi-protect the areas of sand in front of these hotels and allow the sea’s natural forces to take over. It is important to note that marine studies undertaken in the area have shown that the erosion of the beach is in some part due to the beach “modifications” made in front of these hotels some years ago, especially the stretch of beach immediately to the west of the groin constructed by the Hamaca hotel.
Will this operation with its supposed significantly positive impact on the entire Boca Chica beach take place in January 2007 as the latest rumor goes?… Excuse us once again because it looks very much like the answer is the now infamous but often uniquely appropriate “Time will tell!”