We stayed there on our perch for a while, just peeping the scene. We were naturally in awe; as we had never seen anything so bold yet seemingly normal. It was almost as if nothing taboo was taking place here.
We finally head back to our resort with our "drivers", Marcos and friend. On the way back we stop at a cuchifritos truck on the side of the road. We all get out to see if we want to get any food. Pure authentic Dominican food. We didn't get anything to eat so we just chatted to ourselves while the guys devoured their fried delicacies, sitting in beach chairs on the side of the road at 3am.
We finally return to the resort. We pull up to the back entrance, near the gate we left from. I noticed the same security guard they were chatting up before is still there, still armed with rifle. As Marcos shuts off the engine to the car, the air feels different. Something has changed.
They want money.
$32 each to be exact.
So wait a minute. Hold up. Just a second. You mean to tell me the guys weren't just "showing us a good time"? Ha! How naive of me to think such a thing. I realized we had been taken out on the town by some "sanky-pankies", otherwise known as gigolos. I didn't realize this though until AFTER we had returned and I had done some research.
So here we are with 2 stone faced Dominican men and a security guard with an M16. Now, I don't think he was initially there to scare us per se, but it did add effect. We paid up and then ran through the flower canopy/tunnel back towards our rooms. I'm not really sure why we ran, I think one of the girls heard a rustle in the leaves or something.
After that evening we decided we didn't need Marcos for anything; we'd use the resort's tourist and cab services.
The next day was pretty normal; we went sightseeing and went to a show and dinner at a resort/casino. However, later on that evening our eyes were hungry for more and we decided to take a cab back into the city of Cabarete.
As we made our way to the bar, a guy (black guy from the Bronx) made small talk with us and really gave us an earful. He said that everyone could tell we weren't prostitutes but he wanted to know why we were there and why we chose Puerta Plata. "There's only one thing going on here" is what he told us.
We settled in at our same perch at the bar facing the street. We saw:
- A lady walking down the street completely naked, after getting out of a car
- Various women meeting and leaving with random men
- Young girls (about ages 15-17) approaching men
It was disheartening to see this happening right before my eyes. There were some girls that looked like they enjoyed doing what they were doing and then there were the others. Those who seemed dead behind the eyes. I remember one pretty young brown skin girl in particular who was with a friend. They were waiting around for some guys to decide what they were going to do. She really looked like she didn't want to go. My friend caught her eye and told her she was beautiful. She smiled and said "thank you", in the most sincerest, heartfelt manner.
I prayed for her and the other girls that evening.
On the plane ride home we saw so many men returning to the states. Some of them were familiar faces from the strip in Cabarete. One man was putting his wedding ring back on in the seat next to me.
This was a hard trip for me. I feel when we, as human beings go on vacation we expect to see life through those fictional "rose colored glasses". We don't expect to come in contact with the ills of the world and what I saw in Puerta Plata was very real. Real life and real means of survival. This is what I like to think of as shade in the sun; just because something is beautiful doesn't mean it isn't flawed.
I hold DR close to my heart. I'd like to go back and visit La Romana or Samana to remind me of the all the beauty and innocence still alive and thriving there on the lovely island of Hispaniola.