13.01.2006 - 16.01.2006
After the trip to Saona Island I was completely wiped out and slept until about 9 and then went down to breakfast, walked around the hotel and took pictures and went back to bed and slept until 1 pm. When I got up and thought about what I wanted to do, I decided that the Botanical Garden would probably be the most pleasant, and I wasn't sure that it would be open tomorrow which was Saturday.
Bob changed some money at the desk. Gloria was downstairs on the computer and when we told her what we planned and asked how much a cab would cost she asked if the cab should wait and I said yes (remembering the aquarium) and Bob said no. So she called and the cab driver agreed to do it for 500 pesos.
Gloria then hopped into the cab with us which she said was going right past her house. There was a lot of traffic. The cab driver put on his seat belt sometimes which was a first. He also paid no attention to the lights (or lack thereof - many of them were not lighted) and Bob said he blew through at least 8 stop signs. Usually he looked first.
(stop light intersection)
This kind of driving spooks Bob. I'm too busy taking pictures out the windshield without getting reflections. Once, someone else made the driver back down, but that was the only time. We came down a hill
and there were shacks and shanties up on the hill above a parking lot and here we were at the zoo.
I hadn't intended to go to the zoo. I didn't think we'd have time for both. Gloria had said that the zoo and the botanical garden were right next to each other, but they were not. (She also said that the red and green light poles were decorations for Xmas, but that didn't explain the green and yellow ones or the blue and pink ones.) [ I asked this question in Puerto Rico and was told that the different colors marked the different barrios or neighborhoods.]
We refused to get out of the cab and kept saying "Garden Botanica". I took a pen out and wrote it on a piece of paper. The cab driver looked at it, and then said "Botanic?" and when we said yes, he started the cab up and we drove another 10 to 12 minutes to the gardens - arriving at 2:50.
This time when the sign said pesos and dollars (40 pesos for tourists for the entrance fee and 40 pesos for the train), Bob gave them pesos. We walked in the park (again no map) and saw the big floral clock and went down to the train.
(photo of the floral clock and the cab driver)
The cab driver explained that the train would leave in 30 minutes (he meant on the half hour). There was a sign to that effect too. I was looking for the orchid house, but couldn't find it.
We took pictures of the water lilies and the parts of the garden near the entrance.
We found a snack bar, but they had no idea what we wanted (a map or some information). We stopped some ladies and one of them spoke English but she said the train wasn't running. So we walked back to the place the train was to leave from and sat and waited in the shade for about 10 minutes. I did not try the toilets here.
When we got on the train at 3:30, the guide came to us and said "English or French" (I guess thinking we might be Canadian, because I don't think we look French.) So he did the whole tour in both English and Spanish which was VERY nice. Our taxi driver hopped on the train too at the last minute and took the tour.
The guide told us about native and endemic plants. There was a palm area, a succulent area,
a water plant area, and a fruit tree area. Then we went down into the tropical jungle area along the river which was also a bird and animal sanctuary. Lots of ferns, but too dark to take pictures because we were moving too fast.
Bob's camera batteries have about died because I didn't bring a battery charger for his kind of batteries figuring they'd last a week the way he takes pictures (I take 277 and he takes 11), but I'd used them for the underwater camera the day before and I guess that was too much for them.
The tour was to take 35 minutes, but it was longer than that. We got to the Japanese Garden at 3:52 and got out to walk around. I found walking here EXTREMELY difficult because the ground and paving was quite uneven. There was a red wooden gate
and various sculpture plus bonsai trees and a water garden and a little bridge. I also found Iris pseudacoris. We got back on the train at 4:10, and the driver dropped us off at the gate. Bob was so grateful to have the tour in English that he tipped the guy $2.00
The cab driver drove us back a different way
and stopped at the Governor's palace for me to take a picture, which I did because I didn't want to hurt his feelings by saying I already had some. Bob gave him $20 when we got back, which was more than we agreed to.
Dessert buffet at the hotel
Saturday January 14th to Monday January 16th
On Saturday (January 14th), I mostly edited pictures and wrote up the trip. I took two pieces of bread and some cheese from breakfast and ate that for lunch. Then I swam 12 lengths of the pool. Bob walked to the gas station hoping to get a map, but no luck. He bought some chips and cookies. He said there was a chicken place there.
We talked to some folks from New Mexico who have rented a car and they said they bought a map from the hotel. And the hotel literature also says they have maps. So Bob went down and asked them AGAIN about a map. This time he asked if he could BUY a map, and this time (although they had to consult with someone to see if it was OK to sell him one) we got a map. It even has the hotel on it. Of course we are leaving Monday. Oh well.
They had said when we checked in that we should reconfirm our airline reservations 48 hours in advance and they said they would help. So I asked them and they phoned American Airlines for me. The AA guy said to check in 3 hours in advance.
Sunday - January 15th. I noticed when we drove to Saona that the waves were hitting the black rock edge of the coastline and spraying way up into the air. So this morning after breakfast we set out to walk along the shore to see if I could get a picture of that.
There was at one time a walkway along the edge of the shoreline.
We could see caves and holes along under the cliffs,
but it was impossible to tell when the spray would come up. I got some good pictures though.
Then we watched some football at the condo (on TV).
When I went down to use the computer for the last time after dinner, I erased the history and the part that saves the typing from their computer although I left the favorites alone.
Monday, we packed up and checked out. We figured that we needed an hour to get to the airport and we should be there by noon for the 3 hours. So we left the hotel at 10:30, and it only took 20 minutes to get to the airport and we were all checked in by 11:30. Again we had some kind of form to fill out (actually the same kind that we filled out at the beginning), but they didn't have any instructions and the forms were behind a desk.
I bought a tuna salad sub with our leftover 190 pesos and $1 and got some US change back. We sat and watched the activity at the airport - I had to dig out a sweater to put on because the AC in the airport was so cold.
After we spent a couple of days in Miami with our groundchildren we drove to Orlando