Archive for the ‘Boca Chica beach’ Category
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 man-made 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, 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, 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!
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!
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
As we live virtually on top of the Caribbean Sea it would be no great surprise to learn that there are a variety of ways in which you can entertain yourself with the water element lapping at your door. You can, of course, go swimming or fishing. But how about both with a little stint of ‘fish-sitting’ thrown in.
It was a quiet Sunday morning in the tranquil pond-like water that is our backdoor tropical lagoon and a quick underwater swim was the order of the day.
With water still largely blocking the ears after rising to the surface again, did the young boy standing up to his waist in the water really say: “Can you lend me a candle?” It was needless to say a bright sunny day, so the surprising question seemed a bit far out. “What on earth for?” one could certainly ask with reason, but as the normal attire for frolicking about in the water is a simple pair of trunks it was quite tempting to answer – “No, run right out of them actually”. “Well, in that case” he said, “could you just hold this line then, while I go to the nearest shop and get that candle… I need a float”. The picture as well as the ears were beginning to clear. The boy was fishing and had obviously been quite successful even without a float, in that there were a couple of fish on the end of a line that he was holding.
“All right, why not?” So… he untied the makeshift fishing line from his waist and handed it over. It was an extremely long tennis-shoe lace, with two moderately sized fish hooked to the other end. The fish were not only still alive but quite naturally very eager to get away. The sensation left with was very much like a cross between walking a dog on a leash and baby-sitting
Off he was, and it was time to reflect a little with fish in tow on this sunny Caribbean day. The boy did soon return with his new wax float in hand and re-took charge of the fish. Thankfully, at least for all the dogs and babies of this world, the baby-sitting dog-walking analogy ended then and there because… without question the fish were definitely destined for the pot later that day!
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
“If they really have got WiFi at Playa Vista, then it is time to get back to Boca Chica”… said a self-confessed ardent follower of our blog renderings to himself back in New York last week. He promptly bought himself a plane ticket, packed his laptop and hopped on the flight. His NASDAQ trading he finds he can manage just as effectively alongside the azure-blue Caribbean Ocean from within the Playa Vista bar establishment, and although he is away from his familiar New York surroundings he is adamant that his new “office” environment at the bar has a number of redeeming features!
We are pleased to note that he follows hard on the heels of other very satisfied users from that North American cradle of leading-edge high-tech adoption and they all find the speed and effectiveness we offer on a par with their usual services back home – some more credit points to Verizon!
Why don’t you bring your laptop with you and check out if ‘setting up office’ within the Playa Vista router territory in the perpetual June climate of Boca Chica by any chance should be just your style!
Friday, October 8, 2004
We are pleased to report that from time to time we get some very interesting responses to our little internet pieces regarding life here at Playa Vista Boca Chica and the Dominican Republic in general, and we thought that our readers out there in the big world should be let in on this one from Sarah Daily Frey:
I was looking up information on the D.R. the internet, clicked onto your Blog and started reading. Came across your description of the little islands and it brought back memories.
I feel like I’m a Dominican at heart although I only lived there from the time I was 7( 1955) until Jan. 1, 1962 when my parents sent me to the U.S. for high school. I attended Carol Morgan school and spent wonderful days at Boca Chica. The Island you wrote about that had a zoo was in operation during that time, although it had suffered the loss of some of the animals during a previous hurricane and had been quite battered. It was a great place for adventurous, imaginative kids like me, with all kinds of animals for those brave enough to venture close.
My memories of Boca Chica, Juan Dolio, Santo Domingo and the rest of the island are wonderful. Although my parents were missionaries, I felt like we lived in a resort paradise (except for the fear of the Trujillo dictatorship), with electricity available all the time, clean water and all the comforts anyone could dream of. I even remember when the first supermarket (with air conditioning and freezers) opened in Santo Domingo, started by a retired U.S. air force pilot. We thought we really lived in heaven!
Never thought I’d be old enough to play “I remember when,” especially to someone I don’t even know, but they were good times for me and I thank you for helping to jog my memories.
Sarah Daily Frey
Meanwhile seven years later:
What an incredibly ironic salutary lesson. Electricity, water and all commodities available. The only little fly in the heavenly ointment was El Jefe – Mr Trullijo!
Saturday, September 11, 2004
Hurricanes come and thankfully they go… and even more thankfully sometimes they go without ever coming. We left you last time seemingly looking down the barrel of a gun called Ivan. It looked like there was no escape, but remarkably we managed to slip free yet again and this time in large part thanks to another hurricane. While Ivan was advancing into the southern Caribbean, Frances was still active over continental America. This created a ridge of pressure over the Caribbean which forced Ivan to take a more southerly route than has been seen in many many years affecting islands such as Curacao and Aruba and even parts of Venezuela that have never seen such phenomenon before.
Here in Boca Chica we waited and watched from the Playa Vista Terazza as Ivan whirled by several hundred miles to the south. At about 10 pm on Wednesday the sea rose to start flicking the terazza wall, and for 24 hours we watched the grand spectacle of extremely large rolling waves breaking onto the reef sending spray dozens of feet into the air and surf surging well inside our paradisal lagoon even as far as the steps leading up to the terazza itself ultimately licking the topmost step. In contrast to the roaring sea the air remained extremely placid, and a light cloud cover brought merely a sprinkling of rain on just one occasion throughout the entire time it took Ivan to swirl by. Mercifully the sum of our damage was no more than one broken plastic table leg which was crashed into by a couple of logs that floated by during the marine melee.
Some of the worst Ivan affected islands in the Caribbean this time around have previously claimed to be hurricane-free in their efforts to attract visitors… perhaps the Dominican Republic should now take the slogan up instead!
Meanwhile seven years later:
That was of course very much tongue in cheek. So far we have averted such hurricanes as Katia, Nate and Maria but September still has a long way to go so fingers crossed.
Wednesday, September 1, 2004
If you haven’t visited Boca Chica you might not know that we probably have the world’s finest natural swimming pool right in our own backyard. If you have visited our reef-protected lagoon pool, then you will surely have noticed a couple of small green islands to the west towards the Andrés end of the Boca Chica bay. If by any chance you should be motivated to venture into checking out the two deserted islands the lagoon itself is shallow enough at almost all points to allow you to wade out to the islands, or you can take the even more leisurely route and hire one of the small pedal boats and without much effort reach the nearer of the two islands in a few minutes.
As both islands are covered in lush green vegetation it is certainly not apparent from the shore that the origin and composition of the islands are quite different.
La Matica, the smaller of the two, is the first that you come to from the Boca Chica side. It is about 200 yards in length and was used as a zoo park for a number of years. The 1950s was a turning point for La Matica, because a hurricane swept the zoo park away never to be re-established, and in the same decade dredging of the existing underwater channel into the Boca Chica-Andrés port area resulted in the formation of the other island named at the time La Piedra (The Stone) which is significantly bigger than La Matica at some 700 yards in length. La Matica is covered in long-term evolving vegetation including different kinds of mangrove, aspen and sea grape whereas the vegetation of La Piedra derives from what man, wind, waves and birds have brought in over the last fifty years with the most notable result being a substantial area of Australian pine giving the island its now more familiar name of Los Pinos.
Plans were laid down quite some years ago for a walkway to be built from the shore to a point midway between the islands and develop the ensuing environment for visitors to fish, bathe and swim. These plans have been resting in some bureaucratic drawer for a good many years now and so these largely undisturbed islands continue as the roosting location for a number of species of birds such as herons and white-crowned pigeons which can be seen heading off to their night time perches as they fly by the Playa Vista terraza at dusk.
Meanwhile seven years later:
With so many development plans yet unfulfilled in Boca Chica it is not a surprise to note that the islands remain under the natural control of the roosting birds. However, as explained in the post on the Caucedo Peninsula Development their nightly view over to the west has changed considerably and not necessarily to their liking.
Friday, June 4, 2004
We have certainly moved into high summer in Boca Chica. Bright blue sunny skies are now the order of every day. Just perfect and the ideal time to welcome Boca Chica’s 2nd International Festival of Motorcycles sponsored by Secretaría de Turismo (Ministry of Tourism) and the local Asociación de Comerciantes (Business Association), among others. The Festival welcomes riders and motorcycles from anywhere in the world to parade in and around our town this weekend, and we have already been treated to a cacophony of sound this morning as a large section of the bikers drove along the main street on a range of extremely large and colorful motorbikes including Harley’s, Honda’s and Kawasaki’s. The roar of the bikes was deafening and was accompanied by the wailing of numerous police sirens in escort and the seemingly unavoidable triggering of car alarms caused by the vibrations from the powerfully roaring bikes… quite a spectacle.
This year there are upwards of 150 bikes present with participation from Puerto Rico, Europe and the USA in addition to Dominican enthusiasts.
On Friday they will pass again through Boca Chica in procession to Bayahibe. On Saturday they will be on exhibit from the morning at Boca Chica beach where a number of competitions will be held for participants throughout the day followed by a concert at 4.30 pm and then a prize-awarding ceremony after that.
So if you are into roadsters and you don’t want to wait another year for the 3rd International Festival of Motorcycles, Boca Chica is the place to be this weekend!
Meanwhile seven years later:
We haven’t seen that event roll onto the beach in some years but of course there is no shortage of events sponsored by Presidente, Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Codetel et al such as beach volleyball competitions down at the same western end of the wider beach. And of course there never is a shortage of motorcycles zooming by on the nearby highway either!