Written by Rick and Shar Heagle, Your Rancho Mirage Cruiseplanners
Thanksgiving, 1993 was upon us. I was a Casualty Specialist for Lloyds. We wanted to go to Bermuda, but the island was booked. Disappointed, Barbara, the head of travel at the firm, knowing we loved the Caribbean, asked if we had ever thought of the Dominican Republic? Frankly we had only associated it with the repressive Trujillo regime and as a quintessential “Banana Republic.” Thankfully, we relied upon a travel professional’s savoir faire for our experience of a lifetime.
Since my wife was “road warrior” in the Healthcare industry, we used her air miles for travel on Thanksgiving Day to Santo Domingo. Barbara booked our stay at the Sheraton (the exchange rate of the Dominican peso made the rate $79 US) for two nights and then the amazing resort, Casa De Campo, in La Romana (polo fields and $110 per night).
Our first adventure was the connecting flight to Santo Domingo. Passengers were carrying US consumer goods and auto parts in their laps. When we touched down at 10:30 PM we were not prepared for the apparent construction at the arrival terminal and the dirt floor in the baggage area. We shared the exit to the taxi area with a scrawny chicken who was pecking the floor for scraps. We gave ourselves a concerned glance when we surveyed the taxi, a mid-seventies Ford Granada with no doors that matched, driven by an apparently 80-year-old with a toothless grin. Merengue and Salsa music poured into the humid night air from houses without windows other than storm shutters, and we thought we might become victims of a kidnapping on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride to the Sheraton.
Our fears were unfounded, and we spent an amazing time gambling (Shar won at the Jaragua), eating at Altos de Chavon, and driving our golf cart around Casa De Campo, the resort where many A List celebrities stayed for the weekend.
Santo Domingo is the first European city in the New World created by Christopher Columbus’s brother. Without Barbara’s recommendation, we’d have missed one of our best eye-opening trips in over forty years and 24 cruises.
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