Dominican Republic Day Three: Santo Domingo: A Short Visit To The Jardin Botanico
Finding a taxi in the Colonial Zone in Santo Domingo was a lot harder than you would think. I needed a ride to the Jardin Botanico, the National Botanical Gardens. The staff at the Billini hotel said their driver wasn’t available. They said they couldn’t call a taxi. I left the hotel and there wasn’t a taxi anywhere. I walked to a nearby hotel and inquired at the desk and the gentleman called a taxi for me. After a short wait I was on my way to Jardin Boatnico with a taxi driver who spoke no English.
Traffic in Santo Domingo was crazy. There was congestion the entire four miles to the gardens. It took almost a half hour to drive the four miles through the mid day traffic. I would hate to have to drive in rush hour. . There was no air conditioning in the cab. It cost me $20 US dollars and I was glad when we finally arrived at the Jardin Botanico.
Once again the language barrier was overcome as I purchased tickets and was advised how to download a map of the gardens, of course, with a little bit of difficulty, but with smiling faces by all parties involved. I was soon walking under the thick canopy of tropical trees. This was good because although is was just past 11 a.m., the morning sun was intense.
I love touring the botanical gardens in the cities and countries I visit. One can learn a lot about a city and it’s residents by the pride they talk in their parks and gardens. As I continued my walk I realized these gardens will be much different then the botanical gardens I visited in Australia, New Zealand and Europe. In those gardens, in temperate climates, I was able to recognize many of the trees, shrubs and flowers. Even in Auckland and Perth, oak, maple and pine trees were able to grow and thrive, but not here. I realized in this tropical climate I would not see these familiar trees. The park was beautiful but the trees strange and unknown to me.
I again wished I had more time to explore and learn the many exotic trees and plants that surrounded me. But I knew this would be impossible for a number of reasons. First the heat was impressive, second, I already had walked 3 1/2 miles, and finally there were the usual afternoon thunderstorms in the forecast.
And there were some unfamiliar, but beautiful birds singing in the trees. My favorite were the Hispaniolan woodpeckers.
and some birds I am familiar with, loved my me and my dad, the northern mockingbird. I saw many of all of these birds on my hike, and a few others I couldn’t identify or photograph. I am sure there it even a lot more bird activity in the morning and evening. It was near mid-day and it was hot.
I followed the main road, looking for the Japanese gardens. There were no signs in English in the gardens, and the map I downloaded was in Spanish too. And none of the people or workers I met spoke any English. So I inadvertently walked by the Japanese gardens but this was not a bad thing. I walked on a quiet lane lined with tall tropical trees.
It was hot and humid and I enjoyed the feeling of walking in a remote rainforest.
I walked for about 1 1/2 miles before I realized I missed the Japanese gardens and began my walk back, observing the many tropical plants and wishing I had more time, and a better short term memory, to learn them all.
On the way back I briefly visited an exhibit on the native Taino people who inhabited the island of Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic). before the arrival of the Europeans.
I love learning how the native people learned before most were enslaved and exterminated after the arrival of the Europeans. A sad part of Western Civilization it is. We must remember history the good and the bad, so as not to repeat the bad. I think someone famous said that once. I was amazed by the complexity of the Taino structures and their gardens which grew squash, corn and beans. It was a simple and hard, but I believe a good life they lived.
I reluctantly left the exhibit, and other exhibits about life of the early explorers and settlors, and finally found the Japanese garden. I love visiting Japanese gardens on my travels. They are always so well designed and aesthetically pleasing, as was this one.
turtles swimming in the pond. There were also a couple of grebe like birds that eluded my attempt to photograph them. Here is a link to a gallery with more photos of the critters I saw on my walk. Dominican Republic: Santo Domingo Day Three Jardin Botanico critters. October 22 2021.
and I even saw some mushrooms. Unfortunately, again, storm clouds were forming, and I decided I should leave. In my haste, I did not see the bonsai gardens which I heard were beautiful. Hopefully I shall return some day.
Now the problem was getting back to my hotel in the Colonial Zone. I inquired about taxis at the entrance and they pointed me to the busy highway. I crossed it, which wasn’t easy so as to be on the side with traffic heading toward the downtown. Traffic was heavy but there were almost no taxis. I flagged a few down, but they did not want to drive into the city. I really didn’t blame them. I watched the highway, and threatening skies for about a half hour. I was getting worried that I may be walking the four miles back to my hotel in the rain. Finally, I convinced a young man, for the hefty fee of $ 30 US to drive me to my hotel. Again. I spent a half hour in heavy traffic before I got back.
It was almost 1 p.m. when I got back to my hotel from my visit to the Jardin Bontanico and I was hungry so I walked to the nearby Falafel Zona Colonial restaurant for lunch. There was no English spoked and my Spanish consisted of sin carne, no meat, since I don’t red meat or chicken. After a long wait, it was worth the wait, I as served a delicious pita like sandwich filled with flavorful vegetables. The hot sauce in that bottle was nasty hot but good.
I returned to my room, showered, checked in with my office and edited photos until around 4 p.m. when I did a little more exploring of the old town. I walked over to Calle El Conde in search of vanilla extract that I was asked to bring back for a friend.
I roamed the now busy street and then walked through Columbus square to eat at the oldest restaurant in the Western Hemisphere Pat’e Palo European Brassiere again. The food was so good the previous evening I had to return. I had another wonderful meal and I enjoyed the atmosphere. It was Friday evening and it was crowded. After my meal I took a slow walk back to my hotel It was dark. I loved the old town in this city. Unfortunately it was my last night but I was looking forward the next leg of my adventure, Los Haitieses National Park. Here is a link to some more photographs from a visit to the Jardin Botanico and evening in Santo Domingo. Dominican Republic Day Three Santo Domingo Jardin Botanico and evening walk. October 22 2021.
“Parks and playgrounds are the soul of a city.”