The horrible winter has brought a lot of people to make last-minute trips. So I have been on a couple of day trips recently. Also, took some snaps of new things I've seen. One is this new bakery on the Conde. Very nice. Several smaller businesses are have opened recently. God knows El Conde needs them. It is dying a slow death. Hopefully, these new businesses can help turn the tide.
One of the streets being remodeled in the colonial zone is starting to come together.
Went to the Dreams Resort in La Romana, for the day. It was great, but I had 5 margaritas and woke up 4 hours laters when it was time to go. Didn't get a chance to see much. Next time.
On Saturday night went to Esedeku to wish the owner, Julio, a happy 40th birthday! And then I confirmed that NYC Bar is now a lesbian bar. Though everyone is welcome. The white party was cancelled until further notice.
Also got a chance to go back to the restaurant Lulu's Tasting Bar and it is very good. I found out it is owned by the same owners of Pat'e Palo. Which speaks to the great service and food. Next door is a wine store, so they have an extensive wine/champagne list. They have a special of 50% off food & drinks (wine list not included) everyday from 6 - 8 pm. for any American Express cardholders. Highly recommended. And this week is independence day and the craziness of carnaval.
The United States ambassador, and his husband, met with leaders of the local LGBT community at the American Embassy. It is nice to see that he is not shying away from talking about gay issues and meeting with leaders from the community. Click here for more informamtion and photos.
Beyonce & Jay-Z were reported to be staying at Casa de Campo. According to some published reports, they are in town to take part in the Latin Baseball Hall of Fame, which is based in/or near Casa de Campo. But last night, they startled the crowd in the disco Euphoria when they showed up. Social media was abuzz today with blurry photos.
Last night, I went out to dinner. I am such a creature of habit. I go to the same places and order the same thing. After leaving dinner and driving around the zone, we passed by Lulu Tasting Bar. It has been open since last year and I have been meaning to stop in for dinner. So, we stopped in last night for a drink. The place is beautiful, with a sophisticated ambiance, great service and decor. And they have a beautiful outdoor patio space. Definitely have to go back and check them out.
I was playing around and made an app for Android. I just have to figure out how to submit it to the Google Play Store. But, I and a few others have used it for a couple of weeks and it seems to be working fine. Very basic, but you can access the site just fine.
I had been hearing rumors running rampant that the NYC Bar was turning into a lesbian bar. Amazonia, the lesbian bar in Gazcue, has been closed for quite sometime. I had know idea. Then I heard that they (owners of NYC Bar) had purchased the G-Lounge. Also, I heard that there was a new bar/club opening called The White Casona.
If you just wait awhile, the truth usually starts to creep out. From what I have been able to gather, the G-Lounge and NYC Bar have entered into some type of partnership. The G-Lounge has been publicizing the NYC Bar on their Facebook page. The Facebook page for NYC Bar hasn't been updated since last October.
I hope something positive comes out of the partnership. After a nice start, the NYC Bar has gone downhill. It is still a great venue, but the crowds are very sparse, even on a Saturday night. And it is free (!) to get in. And I finally made my way into the G-Lounge. It is also a great spot. The problem is that they have a very successful club right next door and they haven't found a way to differentiate themselves. They both need some help. Esedeku and Fogoo are consistently crowded every weekend. They have found their niche and supply their clientele with what they are looking for. Here's hoping that both the NYC Bar & G-Lounge can find their niche.
And there is no new bar opening called the White Casona. But G-Lounge & NYC Bar are giving a white party at someplace called the White Casona in Gazcue. Information below:
Se acerca el dia de la fiesta mas exclusiva del año! THE WHITE PARTY At THE WHITE CASONA Feb-15-2014 9pm OPEN BAR all Night. $1000 p/p (preventa) $1500 p/p (puerta) *obligatorio vestir de blanco Enrique Henriquez #73 Gazcue Justo detras de Centu. Adquiere tu boleta con tiempo. En G-LOUNGE BAR y NYC BAR. Mas info: 8298042430 Pin:29380f85
Bélgica Adela Mirabal, better known in her native Dominican Republic as Doña Dede, died Saturday, February, 1, 2014 of pulmonary complications at a hospital in Santo Domingo. She was 88. Doña Dede was the last surviving of four sisters known as the butterflies that fought to overthrow one of the most blood-thrust dictators in Latin America. On November 25, 1960, three of the four Mirabal sisters were killed by the dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, setting up an uproar in the country that ultimately led to the assassination of the dictator in May 30, 1961.
The story of the Mirabal sisters has been told numerous times. Notable American-Dominican author Julia Albarez told their story in her 1994 best-selling novel In the Time of the Butterflies. This novel was the basis for the 2001 film of the same name, starring Salma Hayek, Edward James Olmos, and Marc Anthony. In 2010, Michelle Rodriguez starred in Tropico de Sangre, another film depicting the lives of the Dominican heroines. In 2009, Chilean film maker Cecilia Domeyko also produced a documentary of the Mirabal Sisters. In the documentary, Code Name: Butterflies, filmmaker Domeyko interviews family, personalities and friends that give a recount of the lives of the deceased sisters and their movement to restore democracy in the Dominican Republic. In 1999, the sisters received recognition by the United Nations General Assembly, who designated November 25, the day the sisters were killed, as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The province of Salcedo in the Dominican Republic, where the sisters were born and lived until they died, has been renamed Hermanas Mirabal, in honor of the sisters.
Born on February 29, 1925 to a middle class family in the small province of Salcedo, in the Dominican Republic, Doña Dede was the second child of four sisters. Unlike her sisters, she never attended college, and took instead a more traditional homemaker role, including helping to run the family business in agriculture and cattle. She married and had three children, one of which, Jaime David Fernandez, is the current Minister for Environment and Natural Resources and former vice president of the Dominican Republic.
After the death of her sisters, Doña Dede devoted her life to the legacy of her sisters. She became mother to her sisters' six children and has traveled the world telling her sisters' story. In 1992, she founded the Mirabal Sisters Foundation and subsequently the Mirabal Sisters Museum in 1994, in her native city of Salcedo. The museum is now a major tourist attraction. For a long time she was known as the last surviving Mirabal sister. A title that many times sparked the obvious question of how she was able to survive, to which she would often reply, "so I could tell their story!"
(Note: Many years ago, when I first moved here, we were driving near the Mirabel Museum in Salcedo. And decided to stop by. And I got a chance to meet her in person. She was extremely gracious and charming and answered all our questions. She and her family changed Dominican history. If you are ever near Salcedo, go check out the museum.)
Situated along Colonial streets and buildings, Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone offers visitors excellent dining facilities.
Local restaurants offer the most demanding guest the finest Creole, Italian, French, Mexican, Mediterranean, Spanish and international cuisine, in formal or informal settings.
Still in operation is the first “canteen” to open in the Americas during the Colonial Period.
Many of the country’s most important historical events occurred in the Colonial Zone and, it is here, where visitors will be able to enjoy dishes from all over the world.
Formal and less formal restaurants offer visitors the best of Creole, Italian, French, Mexican, Mediterranean, Spanish and international cuisine. The following is an updated list of the best the Colonial Zone has to offer:
This restaurant is situated in what was once the first local tavern of the Americas, which opened in 1505.
Situated in the “Plaza de España,” the Zone’s main square overlooking the Colonial Palace of Diego Columbus, the Admiral’s brother, the restaurant offers guests a casual chic atmosphere with an attractive menu. Address: Atarazana Street, # 25. Phone: 809-687-8089.
Casa del Caribe
This colonial residence, featuring a beautiful Spanish indoor courtyard, is now home to a bar-restaurant specializing in grilled meats, Spanish “tapas” and typical soups and broths.
It is an excellent spot to enjoy a tasty meal, with lively music in the background. Address: Isabel la Catolica Street, # 210. Phone: 809-535-1241.
El Burro Loco Art Bistro
This casual restaurant and art gallery offers the younger crowd a wonderful spot to share a memorable moment with friends. International drinks and Spanish “tapas” available. Address: Las Mercedes Street, #321. Phone: 809-548-7047
The restaurant is also situated in another beautiful Colonial mansion, standing next to a local square.
Excellent Spanish “tapas,” a varied selection of wines and cocktails, and an impressive bar and beautiful courtyard complete the restaurant’s overall atmosphere. www.lulu.do
Spanish “tapas” and an international menu with a Basque twist. The restaurant features a lively Flamenco show. Address: Calle Emiliano Tejera, # 51. Phone: 809-333-8494.
Ristorante La Bricciola
By far, La Bricciola is the best Italian restaurant in the Colonial Zone.
The menu offers pasta, risotto, seafood and prime meats. The restaurant is known for its beautiful Spanish courtyard. It is one of the most iconic restaurants in the Colonial Zone. Address: Arzobispo Meriño, corner of Padre Billini Street. Phone: 809-688-5055.
Restaurant La Atarazana
This restaurant was issued a Dominican Treasures certificate by the Dominican Tourism Competitiveness Consortium.
The restaurant opened in 1972 in the original building was once a colonial military port and warehouse. Creole cuisine is its specialty. Address: Atarazana, # 5. Phone: 809-689-2900.
Those who enjoy Mediterranean cuisine will truly enjoy this restaurant, featuring an outdoor patio, a relaxed ambience with excellent lunch and dinner menus. Address: Sánchez Street, corner of Padre Billini Street. Phone: 809-688-9714.
Meson d’ Bari
This is the place for patrons who enjoy fine Dominican traditional dishes.
This Colonial residence is a favorite dining option for both Dominicans and international visitors. Address: Hostos Street, #302. Phone: 809-687-4091.
Creole and international cuisine with a gourmet touch, featuring low-calorie dishes. Address: Arzobispo Portes Street, # 401. Phone: 809-333-9001.
A cozy restaurant known for its excellent pizza made in wooden stoves.
Music and dancing in the evenings. Excellent Sunday brunch. Address: Emiliano Tejera, #101. Phone: 809-689-1118.
El Zorro Restaurant
The restaurant’s name was inspired by the Mexican “El Zorro” super-hero character. Best Mexican food in the Colonial Zone. Address: El Conde, #53. Phone: 809-685-4441.
Located in the MGallery Hostal Nicolas de Ovando, one of the Colonial Zone’s most important hotels, this restaurant offers diners the best French cuisine in the Zone.
The hotel’s main building was built in 1502. Address: Las Damas Street. Phone: 809-685-9955.
Inspired by the cafes of Italy, the restaurant offers guests a variety of Italian dishes all set against a very friendly ambience.
Its pizza is considered to be one of the finest in the Colonial Zone. Address: El Conde, # 54. Phone: 809-685-4440.
La Cantina by Nopal
Aside from its excellent Mexican dishes, this restaurant offers diners a varied list of hamburgers.
It is also known for its margaritas. Address: Arzobispo Meriño Street, # 115. Phone: 809-333-7424.
This restaurant is another excellent option for those who love Italian food.
Because of its location and interior design, it is a popular place for social events and business meetings. Address: Atarazana, #21. Phone: 809-686-3586.
This popular restaurant is the perfect spot where diners can enjoy popular Dominican dishes, overlooking the beautiful “Plaza España.” Address: Atarazana, #19. Phone: 809-689-0055.
Café Restaurant El Conde
By far one of the oldest cafés in the Zone, the restaurant has provided excellent service during its 30-year history.
Known for serving the best coffee and natural juices in the Zone, the restaurant opens at 7:00 a.m. Address: El Conde Street, #111. Phone: 809-688-7121.
Hard Rock Café
This international franchise has made a name for itself in Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone.
Situated across the street from the first Cathedral in the Americas, the café serves great food and features top-name artists during its frequent concert series. Address: El Conde, #103. Phone: 809-686-7771.
LAGO ENRIQUILLO, Dominican Republic — Steadily, mysteriously, like in an especially slow science fiction movie, the largest lake in the Caribbean has been rising and rising, devouring tens of thousands of acres of farmland, ranches and whatever else stands in its way.
Lago Enriquillo swallowed Juan Malmolejos’s banana grove. It swamped Teodoro Peña’s yuccas and mango trees. In the low-lying city of Boca de Cachon, the lake so threatens to subsume the entire town that the government has sent the army to rebuild it from scratch on a dusty plain several miles away.
Jose Joaquin Diaz believes that the lake took the life of his brother, Victor. Victor committed suicide, he said, shortly after returning from a life abroad to see the family cattle farm, the one begun by his grandfather, underwater.
“He could not believe it was all gone, and the sadness was too much,” Mr. Diaz said, as a couple of men rowed a fishing boat over what had been a pasture.
Theories abound, but a conclusive answer remains elusive as to why the lake — as well as its nearby sibling in Haiti, Lac Azuei, which now spills over the border between the two on the island of Hispaniola — has risen so much. Researchers say the surge may have few if any precedents worldwide.
“There are no records, to the best of our knowledge, of such sudden growth of lakes of similar size,” said Jorge E. Gonzalez, a City College of New York engineering professor who is helping to lead a consortium of scientists from the United States and the Dominican Republic studying the phenomenon.
Other lakes have grown, from melting glaciers and other factors, Mr. Gonzalez said, but “the growth rates of these two lakes in Hispaniola has no precedent.”
The lakes, salty vestiges of an ancient oceanic channel known for their crocodiles and iguanas, have always had high and low periods, but researchers believe they have never before gotten this large. The waters began rising a decade ago, and now Enriquillo has nearly doubled in size to about 135 square miles, Mr. Gonzalez said, roughly the size of Atlanta, though relatively light rains in the past year have slowed its expansion. Azuei has grown nearly 40 percent in that time, to about 52 square miles, according to the consortium.
The scientists, partly financed by the National Science Foundation, are focusing on changing climate patterns as the main culprit, with a noted rise in rainfall in the area attributed to warming in the Caribbean Sea.
In reports, they have noted a series of particularly heavy storms in 2007 and 2008 that swamped the lakes and the watersheds that feed them, though other possible contributing factors are also being studied, including whether new underground springs have emerged.
“People talk about climate change adaptation, well, this is what’s coming, if it’s coming,” said Yolanda Leon, a Dominican scientist working on the lake research.
The rise has taken a toll, particularly around Enriquillo, an area more populated than that around Azuei.
The government estimates that 40,000 acres of agricultural land have been lost, affecting several thousand families who have lost all or part of their only livelihood of yucca, banana and cattle farming. The town of Boca de Cachon at the lake’s edge is in particular peril, with some houses already lost, and the government is bulldozing acres of land for new farms.
A main highway to the Haitian border was flooded and had to be diverted, while another road around the perimeter of the lake now ends abruptly in the water.
Local residents are skeptical that the government will follow through, and they question whether the soil will be as good as the parcels near the lake that drew generations of farmers in the first place.
Olgo Fernandez, the director of the country’s hydraulic resources institute, waved off the criticism and said the government had carefully planned the new community and plots to ensure the area remains an agriculture hotbed. It will be completed this year, officials said, though on a recent afternoon there was much work left to be done.
“These will be lands that will produce as well as, if not better than, the lands they previously had,” Mr. Fernandez said.
Row upon row of cookie-cutter, three-bedroom, cinder-block houses — 537 in all — are being built in the new town, which will include a baseball field, church, schools, community center, parks, even a helicopter landing pad (“for visiting dignitaries,” an official explained). Environmental controls will make it “the greenest town in the Dominican Republic,” said Maj. Gen. Rafael Emilio de Luna, who is overseeing the work.
For now, though, at the ever-creeping edge of the lake, the ghostly trunks of dead palm trees mark submerged farms.
Junior Moral Medina, 27, who lives in Boca, plans to move to the new community. He looked out on a recent day on an area where his 10-acre farm had been, now a pool of lake water studded with dead palms.
“We have been worried the whole town would disappear,” said Mr. Medina, who now works on the construction site for the new town. “Some people at first did not want to leave this area, but the water kept rising and made everybody scared.”
Residents in other communities are growing impatient and worry they will not be compensated for their losses.
Enrique Diaz Mendez has run a small grocery stand in Jaragua since losing half of his six acres of yucca and plantain crops to Enriquillo. “We are down to almost nothing,” he said.
Jose Joaquin Diaz and his brother, Victor, grew up tending to the sheep, goats and cows of the family farm, but both left the Dominican Republic for the United States for better opportunity. Jose returned first, and three years ago Victor arrived, looking forward to the slower pace of life after working an array of jobs over 18 years in Brooklyn.
“We told him about the lake, but he was shocked when he saw it,” Jose recalled, tears welling with the memory.
Later that night, Victor called his mother to express his dismay. The next morning he was found hanging in a relative’s apartment in Santo Domingo where he was staying. “It is strange to see people fishing where we had the cows,” Mr. Diaz said. “Victor could not bear it.”
My name is Sherman Hughes, a US educator and anthropologist from Lynchburg, VA. I’m a graduate of the University of Richmond and studied a masters of International Relations for 2 years in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
I’ve also lived in Ecuador, Peru and traveled internationally to many countries throughout Latin America. Over the last 7 years I’ve worked in education in Washington, DC. This includes 2 years as a university professor at George Washington University and Trinity University. For the last 5 academic years I worked at Paul Public Charter School as a teacher, World Languages Department Chair, administrative intern and study abroad coordinator.
On the 30th of September, I resigned from my job as a teacher with Paul PCS. I relocated to the Dominican Republic on the 14th of October to pursue study abroad programming for American students and teachers, as well as to work on a documentary “the other side of paradise”. This anthropological work allowed me to interview and experience the life of the impoverished communities outside of the tourist resorts.
After initiating my projects in the coastal beach town of Boca Chica, I decided to concentrate my efforts in the northern region of Puerto Plata in the small town of Cabarete. I rented a condo in the secure area of Cabarete called “ProCab”.
I chose this area due to it’s high-level of security and proximity to local “barrios”. In order to enter my condo you have to pass street security at the entrance of ProCab, pass an electronic card to enter my building, pass an armed guard on the premises and have a key. The name of the complex ironically is Paradise Condos.
As I have traveled to the Dominican Republic various times over the last 4 years, I’m fully aware of the perils of working here: drug trafficking, police corruption, juvenile delinquency to prostitution. This is one reason I didn’t chose to stay in the local communities and found a secure dwelling. In order to penetrate and gain the respect of the local communities I solicited the assistance of a 24 year old Dominican whom I previously met and interacted with on prior visits.
The morning of the 6th of December I complained to the maintenance staff about problems with my electricity. They promptly agreed to have someone come fix the issue that afternoon. I left the apartment around 2:30pm to go work at my local writing spot, Vela Vela, located on the beach. Around 6pm I finished my daily work and decided to return home.
I encountered my assistant on the beach and he decided to return with me. We arrived around 6:30pm. As I entered ProCab, everything seemed normal up to the armed security guard sitting in front of my condo. As I entered the condo, we were greeted with thick, black smoke. Something was definitely on fire but I wasn’t able to see any fire. The smoke was so thick we were not able to enter completely without passing out.
We immediately ran out seeking help from the security guard. He called the managers of the property who arrived within 15mins. In the mean time, we were still unable to enter the condo. I was mostly concerned that my valuable property was in danger of being burned.
After the property management came, we were able to enter, find the origin of the fire (located in my bedroom) and put out the flames with an extinguisher.
In the mean time I wanted to call the police and fire department but the property managers insisted that we would “find a solution”. I called the police anyways. After the initial walk through I noticed that my bag with my laptop, Ipad and US money were missing. When the police and fire department arrived, they initially stated it was an electrical failure.
However, after we were unable to locate my valuables they concluded it was a provoked fire. Immediately my assistant was detained and taken to the local police station for questioning. The police insisted that he had prior record of stealing in the community. Later I was taken to the police station for questioning where I reunited with my assistant who was in handcuffs. After I was interrogated I was told to return the next morning. When I arrived the next morning I found my assistant still in handcuffs, shaken up and appeared to have been beaten by the police. I learned that the management company had already made a formal report (denuncia) about the fire.
I asked if I could file a “denuncia” about my stolen and damaged items. I was told to return that afternoon at 5pm. When I returned I was informed that I could not file a “denuncia” for the robbery because they did not have a computer to do it. They were informally letting me know that in order to do so I would have to pay them. I refused. Subsequently, I was later informed that I would be indicted as well as my assistant as perpetrators of the fire. According to the law in the Dominican Republic that is an automatic 30 years in jail…more than drug trafficking and murder.
Everyday I went back to the police station in Cabarete to get a formal denouncement of my items stolen and burnt. I was told I had to pay for the “cello” or official police stamp. Again, I refused to pay. They later told me I had to travel to a city of Puerto Plata 30mins away. I went there and they informed me I had to make the report in Cabarete. 5 days later I was able to get a formal report for the robbery from the police. I had to pay for the police to go to a local internet café to type and print.
In the mean time, the property management company would not return my calls nor offer me another condo (I prepaid in advance). I had to stay in the smoke-filled, charred apartment. Immediately I knew I needed legal representation and found a reputable lawyer in town. I showed the report to my lawyer and he suggested we return to the Palace of Justice in Puerto Plata to move things faster.
When we arrived they informed my lawyer that there was a warrant for my arrest. I was immediately arrested and stayed in jail for two days. No book nor movie prepared me for what I experienced on the inside. I had idea what to expect and for how long I would be there. The property management company advocated that I stay in jail for 6 months or pay $10,000. With the help of friends in Santo Domingo and my lawyer, I was able to pay $800 bail and leave jail. I was informed that I am restricted from leaving the country for 6 months pending the investigation. If convicted of collaboration of setting the fire I will get 30 years in jail. In the mean time, my assistant was released and relinquished of responsible.
It’s obvious that they are coming solely after me because I’m an American who they believe has a lot of money. I’ve contacted both the US embassy in Santo Domingo and the consulate in Puerto Plata. They assigned me a resource officer who has yet to return my calls.
On a positive note, my bag with my laptop and Ipad were later found. Now I’m left with two options: 1) negotiate with the property management company for the damages or 2) fight the case in the Dominican court of law. The first option would immediately allow me to get out of the system and return home.
The second option would take 6 months plus before I can put this “nightmare” behind me. Though I would love to free myself of the accusations and return back to my family and friends, a part of me wants to fight for truth and justice. Unfortunately, I don’t know if that exists here. Overall, I feel I was unfairly targeted because I’m a US citizen.
I’m asking for your financial assistance for my legal defense, as well as any advice and commentary on this matter.
For those who remember Coqui, from Jay Dee's, she is back from Argentina. And will be performing this weekend. And for those that go way back and remember Llego Bar, Rita Mendez will be performing with her.
A few days ago I was reading one of my favorite blogs, 'What About Our Saucepans,' and there was a post about Dominican Christmas traditions. There seems to be a tradition of getting up before dawn and going around to different homes playing music loudly. And this morning I got to experience this first-hand. No one was coming to my house (they fucking know better!), but they stopped at several of my neighbors. This went on for over a half hour. Fortunately, living here as long as I have, I understand loud. And I can sleep through anything. It is just a tradition I don't get. But, God bless 'em!
Last Friday, a very popular television anchor, Claudio Nasco, was found bound and gagged with several stab wounds at a cabaña (sex motel). The killers were found within 24 hours. It is alleged that they are bugarrones (male hustlers). There are rumblings from some quarters of the gay community because of the swiftness in which the case seems to be wrapped up. There have been many killings of transsexuals in the last several years that have gone unsolved. In any case, I am happy they caught the alleged perpetrators. No one should have to die like this.
Former New Yorker (Harlem!) living in Santo Domingo since January 2004. The person I was when I arrived is a totally different person today. I still love living in the D.R. Even with all its obvious contradictions. This blog is where I write about things I find interesting with the gay community, news, gossip, culture, and of course, men. Strictly from my point-of-view.