When we got to Santo Domingo during the evening, I was struck by how lively things were despite the late hour. While, as I commented earlier, San Juan’s food court was closed at 6PM, after 9PM the one in Santo Domingo was crowded with happy late eaters. The relationship between the airport staff and the official taxi drivers was quite friendly and one could get a sense of the smooth running of tourism on this particular island.
One thing that also struck me was just how big Santo Domingo is. The airport is located in Las Americas, which is one of dozens of suburbs that seem to ring the city of Santo Domingo. In fact, a great deal of what would commonly be considered the capital is made up of one of four different municipalities with different names that are all part of the same “city.” The four districts are known by geographical names–the west, the east, the north, and so on, but are also given other names besides that, for maximum confusion apparently. At any rate, the highway between Las Americas and the downtown area, sprawling as that is, was a fast highway filled with brave drivers, something that appears to be pretty common from what I have seen since arriving.
When we got off the freeway, things got considerably more interesting. Literally tens of thousands of people were on the Avenida España partying, drinking, crossing the road in front of slowed down cars, all of whom were using their horns to no apparent purpose. I asked our taxi driver if it was a holiday or just an ordinary Sunday night and he stated the latter. Given the open prostitution, numerous police cars, some of which looked rather dinged up, and the general scene of celebration and debauchery, the average Sunday night appears to be pretty wild along the harbor in Santo Domingo.
That is not to say that everywhere parties as hardy. Once we left the area along the massively lengthy avenue where people were congregating basically no one was on the streets, as we crossed a pontoon bridge and made our way beside the ciudad colonial–colonial city–where one can find a massive fortress/prison, the viceregal palace of Diego Columbus constructed upon first arrival in the New World on Columbus’ second voyage in 1493, and numerous other beautiful and old buildings. By the time we were deposited at our hotel it was still blazing hot and humid inside and outside and both my mother and I were extremely exhausted and quite willing to sleep fairly soon thereafter, after turning on the fan and such air conditioning as exists.