March 12, 2014

4h49pm Here we are at the Hotelito Oasi Italiana in Los Patos, Paraiso. We’re staying here at least three days to recover. The Hotelito is a true oasis of peace and tranquility. The owner is from Verona, near where I live. The Lonely Planet recommends this place for the food; I’m not interested in eating Itailan, but the place is really nice. With a swimming pool, two parrots and two bunnies.

The hills here are close to the ocean, so the road that runs along the coast is all ups and downs and with gua-gua falling apart you are lucky if you get to your destination (in fact we crossed a gua-gua along the road with the passengers waiting in the shade).

I’m surprised again. We paid to get here from Baraona 100RD$ (about 1,7 euro), the same price that paid those that stopped in Paraiso, a couple of kilometers before Los Patos. And they even took us to the entrance of the hotel, that is a bit up the hill!

One of the parrots gets anxious when there are new guests. Now he’s calmer and he’s walking around us.

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The owner of the hotel is Giordano Mettifogo, he’s from Verona but his family is from Arzignano (my town – and there are in fact many Mettifogo there). He’s been living here for 13 years and he now struggles speaking Italian (he probably thinks he talks a clean Italian, but sometimes it’s difficult to understand him because he speaks a mix of Italian and Spanish). He confirmed that they are bouganville the beautiful trees that we saw around. In Italy they are a bit difficult to cultivate (I don’t know), but here if you cut a branch and put it into water it will grow roots and if you put it back into the soil it will grow.

Luca is happy. He says arriving here was an adventure. Ah ah, poor soul, he doesn’t know what a real adventure is :P.

6.56pm Ok, the “travel diet” has officially started. Today one only proper meal (that we haven’t had yet), a part from breakfast (we actually had too: one at the hotel with two slices of toasted bread, and once we were able to get cash, to celebrate we had a cappuccino, a cheese empanada -with a thin slice of yellow cheese, the same they gave us at the hotel to put on the toast- and a small white dessert that I don’t know what it was).

We are at the beach. It’s lovely here. The sun set behind us and the moon is out. Will this man take me to dinner once it gets dark or not yet???

We asked Giordano if there’s a malaria risk here. No no, only the dengue fever. Oh, ok then…

7.56 pm. We are at the hotelito restaurant. We decided to treat ourselves for a few days. Tonight lamb and dorado; the first is a mollusk that you can find in a huge shell, served with polenta (a Veronese adjustment); the other a fish fillet cooked in white wine. As aperitif two caipirinhas, if they will bring them to the right table (there are three french guys sitting next to us that when they saw the cocktails with some grass inside they tasted them, and once they understood they were not for them they passed them to us …). And tomorrow for lunch we ordered langoste (lobster) to eat at the beach. At 500 RD$ (8.50 euro) for pound (450gr). Lobsters are forbidden during mating time.

Caipirinha to start and sorbet to end. There’s a guy selling jewels in Larimar, a stone that the Dom Rep is famous for, with amber. He showcased his products just for me here on the floor. It’s making me anxious because I know I won’t buy anything).

Giordano tells us his story. He came here on holiday various times. About 15 years ago a client (I think he was a professional photographer) offered him to rent his house in Los Patos; he came here and never left. He suggested not to go to Haiti. Apparently Port Au Prince is dangerous and all Haiti is crazy expensive because of the NGO workers that live there and go on holiday in the island.

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The hotel is costing him 2.500 RD$ (about 40 euro) per day, and since they started some construction works at the river that creates a natural pool for which Los Patos is famous, there are very few clients. A local shop went from selling 200 to 20 kilos of rice per month. 15 families that were renting cabanas by the lake and lived off that, are now left with no money (they don’t have the habit of saving money here, what you earn you spend, so they didn’t have any money for these months of no earnings). The government says that works should be done before the Holy Week, when American tourists arrive, but Giordano doubts it.

The new Dominican President, Danilo Medina, is from the South, Giordano says, and local people have great hope in him. He promised to build a road that connects the North to Paraiso. That would be great, as at the moment to go anywhere from here you have to go back to Santo Domingo first, that is 4-5 hours away. There are a lot of hills between the two coasts though. I think it will take years to build this road…

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