The day began with a Townhall meeting with the CEO of World Travel Holdings, our parent company. There was a lot of good information provided, as well as a lot of good (and some not so good) questions from the other agents/owners. We ended up pulling into La Romana, Dominican Republic late – but luckily, the tour operator knew we were going to be late – and was ready for us as soon as we got off.
We opted for “Monkeyland” – a large animal sanctuary for squirrel monkeys. We boarded the bus, and drove for about an hour to get there. Along the way, he pointed out various different interesting sites, to include the river where they filmed Apocalypse Now. He also pointed out a baseball field, as well as a location where they are planning a new one. The Dominican Republic is home to some of the greats in American baseball – Sammy Sosa, David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, etc. After he mentioned baseball, I starting picking his brain about who played for what team and where. We also saw some very interesting things that you wouldn’t see back in the United States. One of the most noticeable was the motorcycles. They are everywhere, no one wears helmets, and they often carry more than just two people. I saw one motorcycle with four people on it, and I even saw a motorcycle with someone carrying a toilet. As in, he was on his way back from Home Depot with a toilet. There are also motorcycle taxis. It’s interesting to say the least.
Once we arrived at Monkeyland, we were given a brief introduction – as well as some ground rules about how to interact with the monkeys. Then we were broken into two groups and headed in. The monkeys are very accustomed to humans – they will jump all over you and eat out of your hands. It was pretty crazy, but also a lot of fun. Their sanctuary is beautiful. We had fun, but it was over too quickly. After that, we went to a house in the forest where we were introduced some of their native crops and how they’re prepared. It started with cocoa – they pulled a ripe one off the tree, and opened it and we sucked it like candy. Then he showed us how they dry it, roast it and then grind it and turn it into chocolate. He also showed us the same process with coffee beans. We then had an opportunity to try cocoa tea, hot cocoa, coffee, and mama juana (the local drink made with roots, rum, wine and honey). After that – we bought some coffee and re-boarded the bus and headed back to the ship.
Along the way, he pointed out some other interesting things, to include a guy that had about one too many snakes on him. I surely couldn’t do it. We arrived at the pier, and I wanted to buy a t-shirt from the local Dominican team, Toros del Este. Unfortunately, they only take cash. We were out, so we went back to the ship, into the casino and pulled out some money. As we left to go back to the market – we were reminded we only had 20 minutes to be back on board. We bought a shirt and then madly ran around the straw market looking for Christmas gifts. We made it back on board with 5 minutes to spare. It’s the closest we ever cut it for any cruise we’ve been on. Once we got back to the ship – we noticed that they had updated the LED screen in the atrium to look like the jungle we had just returned from. We decided it was well worth a picture. I am really impressed with this ship, how it looks, the flow of people, pretty much everything. I can honestly say I’ve had no complaints thus far.
We had a busy day – we missed lunch as well, so we headed to Guy’s burger bar – and yes, I went there. Double meat, double cheese, double bacon and extra fries. After that, we retired to our cabin for the evening. Tomorrow is Curacao!