Sunday Museums and Metros

Posted by on Oct 17, 2010 in Dominican Republic | No Comments

My All You Can Jet pass prohibited travel on Fridays and Sundays, forcing me to stay in the Dominican Republic for three full days. Without going to the beach, I wasn’t sure how I would spend my time. A determined traveler could see most historic sights in one long day, with a second day for museums. Due to poor planning on my part, I missed two of the best museums because they weren’t open on weekends.

There was one museum I was excited to visit, which also happened to be open Sundays—the folk art museum. It seemed easy enough to get to on the map but I turned circles around town trying to find it. Sweaty from trudging up and down hills for an hour I finally found what appeared to be an abandoned building. On closer inspection I could make out the festival masks and costumes I was so desperate to see through a window but no one was there to unlock the metal gate.

I had better luck walking 45 minutes to the Plaza Cultural, where I visited Museo de Arte Moderno and the bleak Museo del Hombre Dominicano. I was in luck—tucked away on the top floor, above the prehistoric remains and pottery was a large exhibit of carnival masks and costumes that proved perfect material for sketching. Outside the gallery I was cornered by a very short Haitian man who wanted to practice his English. Both his English and Spanish were poor at best, but we managed enough conversation to last through my improvised granola bar and chocolate milk packed lunch.

One of my favorite activities when I find myself in a new country, besides walking around and getting lost, photographing signs and examining local packaging in grocery stores, is to take public transportation. My first three days in the Dominican Republic were spent in an expensive taxi from the airport or walking but I had heard that Santo Doming had a metro.

I admit, I walked an hour outside of the tourist zone to ride a metro. Modern turnstiles guarded the entranceway but single ride tickets were hand written on paper and taken by an attendant, leaving the microchip touch pads to monthly pass users. Despite being three years old the metro looked brand new. Having just missed a train I asked one of the guards patrolling the pristine platform when I might expect another train. He replied in Spanish “It is a weekend so it may be 5-7 minutes. I’m sorry it will take so long.” In Chicago I’m lucky to get a train every 7 minutes during weekday rush hour!