Not so close
11.01.2006 - 11.01.2006
On Wednesday morning, I wanted to go to the aquarium. The phone book had maps in it (like book maps of big cities) but it was hard to tell what kind of scale the map had so distance was hard to determine.
We asked the hotel several times for a map and they denied that they had any that we could have, although there was a map posted on the wall.
So after breakfast, and checking email on the hotel's computer (since the promised wireless network had not appeared and I couldn't figure out how to get my computer attached to their network), we started off a little before 11 am.
We walked for about 10 minutes along the water and saw no sign that the aquarium was anywhere in visible distance.
So we turned back to the hotel, and asked how much a cab would be. They said 100 pesos. So we got into the cab and in less than 10 minutes were at the aquarium. Bob gave him 110 pesos.
The rates were 20 pesos for kids, 30 pesos for adults, and for Turistas $2.00 or 50 pesos. Bob gave them $4.00, but it would have been cheaper to give them 100 pesos.
According to the AAA guide, there was a short film available, but the people sitting in front of the theatre didn't appear to know anything about it.
It was extremely difficult to take pictures as it is in most aquaria because of reflections off the glass. But in addition it was very dark so for fish that moved at all rapidly, they were just a blur, and some of the water and the glass wasn't real clear and clean. Also some of the tanks were mounted in the wall above my head. Very difficult to see.
There were sea turtles at the entrance, some of which were wedged into some mangrove roots.
Then there were some hermit crab habitats and some spiny lobster and reef shrimp (banded shrimp?). Sea Urchins and Sea Cucumbers were fairly easy to take pictures of.
Fish that moved or swam were not. There was a large shell collection (also behind glass) and some of those fish that dangle worms off their nose to attract prey, and a green moray eel.
We got to the tank with the big fish and there were divers scrubbing the walls. I could see that the coral wasn't real when the divers started to scrub that too.
There was a tank with piranhas, and another with Venezuelan fish which had yellow and black vertical stripes.
There were several large fish which were called Characidos y Ciclidos. These moved slowly enough that I could get a picture. They also had some big koi.
After that there was a short shark tunnel with rays and sharks and barracuda swimming over you.
Outside there was an iguana pit, and an open tank with starfish and another one with smaller turtles.
There was also what appeared to be a food concession where you could buy burgers or pizza. No one appeared to be selling anything even though it was now noon.
I went to use the ladies room which had no toilet seat. I think it did flush though. I came back in as it was raining, and asked one of the uniformed men about the film. He started it for us after explaining that it was (of course) in Spanish.
The film looked very interesting. Both the film and the aquarium itself probably would have been even better had we known Spanish. None of the signs were in English, only Spanish. Which was about what I would expect. So unless you knew what the fish were, you would have no way of telling. There was also no brochure or map to tell you where things were, even in Spanish. There wasn't even a map on the wall anywhere.
The film had a section on the formation of the island (it looked like they were saying it was formed by tectonic plates and not by volcanic action), and one on the building of the aquarium, where I saw that artists had painted the coral to look like real coral. The last section was on stocking and maintaining the aquarium.
Now we wanted to get back to the hotel. So we looked around for a taxi. There were some food vendors out front, but I wasn't that hungry although I had originally wanted to eat at the aquarium. I asked a man in a police uniform (which said "Police" on it) where I could get a taxi, and he went to ask someone, and then came back and asked if I wanted to go to the Colonial Zone, and I said no, just to the Acuario Hotel. So he flagged down a taxi, and I asked him how much it would be and he said 70 pesos. So we got in and zipped back to the hotel. Bob gave the man 100 pesos.
He wanted to know why it was 70 pesos to go one way and 100 the other way, and I said the guy was probably going that direction anyway. Or he was intimidated by the policeman.
Opposite the hotel was this lime green fortress - supposed to belong to a member of the Chinese mafia
I was trying to think of what other aquaria I had been to, and I counted up to 10 - Baltimore National Aquarium, New Orleans, Gatlinburg, Fort Walton Beach Gulfarium, North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, Atlantis on Paradise Island Bahamas, BAMZ (Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo), Coral World in St. Thomas, Key West, and Chicago Shedd Aquarium This one was about the equivalent of the Gulfarium without the animal shows.
Man and his girlfriend pick up some ice
Tomorrow we take the trip to Saona Island