I'm not really sure how to begin with this one. I traveled to Puerta Plata in the Dominican Republic in June 2008 with different expectations than what I was met with. One rule of travel is to never have those I've learned. We considered the DR because it would be an inexpensive trip to the Caribbean for some fun, sun and sand.
Nowadays usually whenever I book a trip I do some extensive research online, via TripAdvisor, word of mouth and so forth. My friend (old college roommate I traveled to Negril with) put some options together and we selected a resort from the list. She invited 3 of her friends and a nice little travel group developed. The DR would be our first trip together.
We spent 4 days/5 nights on the beautiful isle of Hispaniola. We visited the caves, a local beach and a nature preserve where we sampled fresh passion fruit, bananas and guava. We also got to see snakes, crocodiles and other wild creatures in their natural habitat. I drank pina coladas out of a pineapple and let Coco the Parrot sit on my shoulder. Real touristy stuff.
That was in the daytime.
Let me back up. When we first arrived to the Viva Tangerine Wyndham Resort we were warmly greeted with cool face towels (oxymoronic yet representative of our entire stay, keep reading). Our rooms weren't ready yet so we headed to the beach to dip our toes in the water in the meantime. No more than 2 minutes had passed before we were approached by 2 men who had been chilling beneath a palm tree. One of the men showed us a shabby laminated brochure of the tours he could take us on. We asked about prices and found they were cheaper than what the resort was offering. We told him we'd think about it but wouldn't make a decision yet. One of my friends asked him about the nightlife there in Sosua/Cabarete. He said he could show us around the town that evening.
We agreed. He said he would meet us behind the resort at 9.
9 o'clock comes around and we're all dressed up in our "going out" clothes. We head to the back of the resort, walking (running, rather) through this shadowy canopy of flowers and ivy. We reach a small parking lot and see the 2 men chatting near the exit with a security guard (that happens to be armed with an M16 rifle. Okay). The men greet us in a heavy Spanish accent and away we go.
So, here I am again in a car with 2 strange men going God knows where. But there's safety in numbers, right? The roads are eerily dark and there doesn't seem to be any civilization around us. We turn onto an even smaller dirt road. There are 4 of us squeezed together in the backseat of a small Toyota. Just like in Nassau, I begin sizing these men up.
To be continued!