Search Engine Term Of The Week (Episode 15)


im scared of squirrell

I see.

I mean I really, really see. It’s perfectly understandable. Just look at this.

Scary buggers, them squirrels.

Edit: Two days later I got this one:

are there squirrels in the dominican republic

Tons of them. They practically grow on trees there. Wouldn’t go, if I were you, my Sciuridae-paranoid friend. (I’m just going to assume that this was the same person, because otherwise it wouldn’t be fun. And that’s true because I said so.)

Meet Mr. Crabby


(This post, like a few others, was written in the Dominican Republic and not posted because Jonas drowned the USB stick.)

Yesterday we met this charming young fellow at the beach. His name is Mr. Crabby. Mr. Crabby lives in a narrow, deep tunnel on the beach, just under the tideline. His tunnel has a charming sea view and runnning warm saltwater twice a day. He spends his time sitting just outside his hole and occasionally darting down the beach to nibble at an interesting piece of driftwood. When questioned he refused to state what he was doing during the night. I wonder what Mrs. Crabby would have to say to that.

In the beginning I was afraid that these rather frequent holes would be snake dwellings which would mean that our hotel has been built in a rather shabby neighborhood, but Mr. Crabby has put my mind to rest on that count. Charming young man, really.

Rain in the Wardrobe

Kaputt, is okay.

That’s what the man said.

Erm… Who is  the man and why did he say that?

Well… You see, we were on this thing, what-do-you-call-it?

The Dominican Republic?

Yes! I mean no. Yes, we were there too. No, not what I meant.

An island?

No. I mean yes. Argh.


Yes, that’s it. And we were in this nice hotel. Food not too bad. Gorgeous beach. Lizards all around. Glorious sunsets. Dripping bathroom ceilings. Happy…

Wait. Surely one of these doesn’t belong in that list.

Drippy bathroom ceiling?

Yep, that’s the one. So, what’s up with that?

Well. The hotel was nice, as I said. Only the bathroom had one tiny little problem. The ceiling was dripping. At first only a little, and then it got worse with each passing minute. Only it’s kinda above the shower, so that wasn’t a problem really, after all the idea is that water is coming down from above in a shower.

Dude, that’s gross. You don’t know where that water’s been.

Good point.


So we complained. And they fixed it. Pretty promptly. Although the repair man didn’t take off his shoes and we had muddy footprints all over the bathroom ceiling after that.

Don’t you mean floor?


Well, I don’t think the ceiling repair man walked on the ceiling. Wouldn’t that be counter-productive, like?

Oh, yes. Muddy footprints all over the floor then.

And he said that thing about kaputt and okay? Right?

No, no he didn’t. That came much later.

Go on.

Okay. Honeymoon continues. Breakfast. Beach. Humidity. Lunch. Feeding turtles. More beach. Dinner. Evening walk. Sunset. Breakfast. Beach. Humidity… I’ll just fast forward a bit here…  Beach. Humidity. Lunch. Feeding Turtles. Rainstorm of Biblical proportions.


Well, they get them there around that time of the year. That’s why they call it the rainy season.


Anyway. After the storm the ceiling is dripping again. Only worse. And we got a daytrip on the next day. Oversleep, barely make the trip and forget to tell anyone about the ceiling. After we get back from the trip the ceiling is stil dripping and we almost have to wade through the bathroom.


Oh, yes, ouch indeed. And as a bonus the drippiness has extended to the hallway and the wardrobe. So we kind of go to the lobby first thing next morning and complain. Politely.

Good for you!

Yes. No need to be a jerk, I guess. And after a few hours, we’re sitting in our room and enjoying the comforts of air conditioning at this point, a guy comes by to look at the ceiling. Jonas opens the door.  Says hola. Points at ceiling. That’s all our Spanish is good for. Guy looks up. Smiles like a loon.

“Is kaputt,” he says.

“Yeah, funny, but we kind of figured that one out ourselves,” we think.

“Is okay,” he says. Smiles some more and goes away.

We are left staring at the empty hallway.

So, what happened then?

Well. The ceiling did stop dripping after that. And the hotel staff took to checking if our fridge and/or TV-set was still okay every single day from then on. Just to be safe, I guess. Can’t be too careful with people who keep complaining about kaputt ceilings.

Blue Crab, Blue Crab!


And yet another obscure movie reference that no-one will get. Anyway…

Here’s a picture of another gentleman we met on our honeymoon. If I wasn’t married already I’d be in trouble now. Isn’t he lovely?

(It’s also a good excuse to open up a “blue”-category on this blog.)

The Dominican Republic Experience

Although there are still quite a few posts from our time in the Dominican Republic in the pipeline, mostly because our USB stick took a swim in the sea ten days in, the time has come to say some general words about our trip.

First of all: The Dominican Republic is a beautiful country. Stunning white beaches make way for black and ragged volcanic cliffs.  Dense, green junge drops away to reveal the bleached bones of the earth. Little islands, full of palm trees and pelicans rise from the sea, on them painted caves hint of civilizations long gone.


I have never even been near a tropical rainforest in my life and I found the experience absolutely amazing. The beaches were less impressive to me; being married to a Greek person does that to you. I have been to that country a few times and know what a pretty beach looks like, but even the husband, who is a bit jaded when it comes to beaches, had to admit that the Dominican ones were exceptionally beautiful. And despite the poverty I have to say that I was entranced with the colourful buildings. Even a little shack made from corrugated iron, or as the Wikipedia informs me, pailing in the local lingo, tends to be painted beautifully. Blue and yellow, green and pink, orange and purple. They look like rusted gemstones.

The poverty, however, is quite shocking. And it is everywhere, not only in rural areas. Families of four or five live in little shacks, made from pailing or roughly sawn boards, mostly with only one or two rooms. There are windows, but no glass. Dirt floors too, I suspect, although I never got a closer look at one of these. In the region where we were based, the peninsula of Samana, most towns aren’t even connected to the water supply network. (Just spend ten minutes searching the net for the proper term, why doesn’t the English laguage have a nice, short word for that? Even the Germans managed, and German is a bitch.) One day we were driving out of town in a minibus when the driver, a man introduced to us as only as Robinson, pulled over in front of a little shack: corrugated iron, no more than 50 square meters, lots of trash out front. Out run two little girls and the elder one gives him something through the open car window, a wallet, I think.  I can only assume her to be his daughter and this to be his house. Now Robinson works in the tourist industry, he has a steady job that pays even during the off-season, and he has to live in a tiny, rundown house on the outer edge of town. That’s when it really hit me how poor these people are.

Makes you feel bad about going to a place like that. At least we always gave good tips, except to our terror of a maid, who really didn’t deserve one.

Moving on from the depressing stuff.

The hotel was decent. Paradisal grounds and nice buildings. Three restaurants, three pools (which we didn’t use, the ocean was a hundred meters away, for crying out loud), a lake with turtles and a massage therapist, palm trees everywhere. The spacious rooms were in small, two-story buildings, which helped make the place feel less crowded and less, well, huge. What more do you want?

Well… A bathroom ceiling that doesn’t leak as soon as the horizon smells a little like rain. That would be something. Not having to be afraid of the maid. Also nice. Water that doesn’t taste of some unspeakable chemical compound. All these and more would be nice. I’m sure Jonas would also have liked a little more variety in the food. And chocolate cake. Me? I’m an omnivore, I eat anything, but even I have to say that the restaurant food could have been a bit more varied.

Now, I don’t want to sound as if the honeymoon was a complete nightmare. Because it wasn’t.

We went to the national park Los Haitises, which was beautiful. We saw the Cayo Levantado, the famed “Bacardi Island”, a place straight from a glossy travel magazine (or from a TV-spot for Bacardi, thus the name). We went snorkeling and saw giant starfish. I sat on a horse again for the first time in nearly ten years and I went up a path on said horse that no horse should ever have had to navigate. Genetically modified gecko-goat-crossbreeds maybe, but no horses. We bathed underneath a waterfall. I drank a cocktail out of a hacked-open coconut. We went sailing on a catamaran and we went to the longest beach on Samana in a tiny fisherboat. We saw turtles and dolphins, parrots and ostriches, lizards and iguanas, hermit crabs and starfish. And I managed to write a complete, shiny new outline for my next novel. How much more can you ask for on a honeymoon? Non-drippy ceiling, yes, I know. But in the end the good far outweighs the bad.


All in all I would love to see more of that region. Of the Caribbean in general, but also of the Dominican Republic. Seeing more of the densely vegetated inland areas. The national parks, as long as they are still there. The whales in winter, ditto on the as long as they’re still there.

Not going as an all-inclusive tourist would be a plus. Not only because I suspect that these AI hotels cut costs wherever they can and that that badly influenced the quality of the food and drink available, but also because the compulsory AI wristbands mark you out as a gullible tourist for all the world to see.

Learning some Spanish would be good too, because our non-existent grasp of the language often had us in bad situations with people who had a non-existent grasp of any language other than Spanish. With some that just lead to a lot of smiling and pointing, others, the ones a lot more oriented towards making a quick buck, just kept on talking in the hope that we would buy to make them shut up. Both situations were uncomfortable, albeit to varying degrees.

Enterprising locals are a big obstacle to enjoying the Dominican Republic. Not only are they intent on ripping you off, they also try to rip each other off whenever they can. On our trip to the Playa de Rincón, the one in a little fisherboat, we got badly ripped off. We didn’t mind too much, since we were too lazy to haggle and knew that we couldn’t take the money home, couldn’t change it back to Euros and would be going home on the next day. But then the man with whom we had negotiated the trip asked us not to tell the captain of the boat how much we had payed, probably so that he wouldn’t ask for a higher cut. Stuff like that makes me uncomfortable. I don’t like lying and I like lying for strangers even less. Luckily there were other people who managed to balance behaviour like that out. Like Rosy the cafeteria owner or the nice girl from the seafood a la carte restaurant.

But I digress, I was going to wrap this post up.

We had a good time in the Dominican Republic. We went to a country that we had never been to, in a region of the world that we had never been too. We ate foods that we had never eaten before. Saw beautiful landscapes and lots of exotic animals. That is pretty much my definition of a good holiday. Of a good honeymoon too, incidentally. The rest, the bathroom, the maid, the French, that’s all background noise. It annoys you if you concentrate on it, like when you try to sleep and aren’t quite tired enough to ignore the humming of the fridge in the next room, but all in all it stays where it belongs, in the background. And the rest is sunshine and beaches and lizards.



So… we’re back from our honeymoon.

Got back home around two-thirty and since then I’ve been trying to do everything in my power to stay awake, reasoning that giving in to the sweet temptation of sleep will only lead to a major case of jetlag. The result is that it now is three in the morning and I’m still up, caught in a strange, feverish state between wide awake and undead, and I think I’ll wake up tomorrow somewhen in the late afternoon with one hell of a headache. I believe there’s a word for those symptoms. What’s-it-called-again? Ah… Jetlag.


Anyway. I will write a nice long post-Dominican Republic post tomorrow as soon as I’ve regained consciousness. For now, have a picture of the happy couple on the beach.


More Green Things (this time also edible)


They are called Pringles Sabor A Limón. The husband hates them. I love them. You don’t get stuff like that in Germany. Neither in Greece, and I think Husband is proud of that. Poor deluded soul.
How do they taste?
Mhm… imagine biting into a Pringle-shaped object that tastes like a mixture between a potato chip and some very intense lime cake.
Very good, I think you’re almost there.
Add a little more sweetness, go easy on the potato.
Got it?
No? Let me see.
Just a tiny little bit more lime.
Tastes good, doesn’t it?
Yeah, I agree.

Lunch at Rosy’s

The hotel food where we are staying is okay. Almost everything gets served as a buffet, so the emphasis is on stuff that can be kept warm for a long time. Chicken, fish, pork, beef in white wine or tomato sauce, noodles and a lot of rice and potatoes. Lots of bread fresh from the loaf. Salad. Different kinds of plain boiled vegetables. I especially like the boiled, fried or pureed plantains, both green and yellow. And the yuca. And the pineapple. And…

You get my drift. Hotel food is decent. After a week of it one notices certain recurring patterns in what gets served when. Jonas is still hoping to run into that chocolate cake that we had on Monday. (My heart is lost to Saturday’s cheesecake. Damn you Mr. Pastry-Chef, there is too much variety. The cakes aren’t respawning fast enough!)

Today we sought to escape the routine of three buffet meals a day and took a walk into town. The village Las Galeras is, according to the hotel, about a mile away, which translates into a ten minute walk (fifteen on the way there, because we took a huge detour).
We had driven through the town twice so far, once on Friday when we arrived here in the dark of night and once on Sunday, on our way to the national preserve Los Haitises.
We hadn’t quite realised that when the travel book says small village it means small village. Personally I had taken it for a euphemism meaning tourist infested town ten heads short of a major city. I was quite wrong. Apparently all there is to Las Galeras is the one street and five hotels of varying sizes.
Not that what there is is bad, mind you.

The harbor had about ten boats, each sporting an enterprising young owner, eager to take us to one of the nearby travel magazine centerfold beaches for a small fee. Maybe tomorrow.
Moving on, one comes to the restaurant and hotel part of main street. Pardon, THE street.
Five or six restaurants snuggle up to each other: Pizzarias, French, Local Cuisine and the obligatory tourist trap, to which I am immediately drawn. Trust me to find the most kitschy place in a ten kilometer radius. Jonas saves me, we move on.
The second third of the street belongs to the gift shops: Spice Island, Tribal Fany (Not kidding) and half a dozen others. They invariably carry a selection of colourful paintings, wooden carvings of turtles, fish and other sea creatures. Ash trays. Coffee mugs. Key chains. Postcards. T-Shirts (my daughter went to the Dominican Republic and all I got was this lousy T-Shirt). Diving equipment. The usual.
After that the road slowly transforms into a residential area, with one or two mini-marts nestled in between the houses. Here, at the border between Tourist Land and the Dominican Republic we find Rosy’s Cafeteria. Her husband, whose name escapes me at the moment, runs an office selling day trips next to it. We were maybe going to eat here, the locals at the plastic tables seem healthy, so how bad can it be, but Rosy’s husband is the one who makes us stay.
German? English? Francais? He asks us. English we say, but he already has us down as Germans.
Would you like to go to Los Haitises? He asks in German. Before we can answer that we already have booked thee day trips with another angency he also offers us quad rides, the waterfall Salto de Limón and a catamaran trip. He doesn’t seem to be very disappointed that we are not buying. There is a French couple with him who might, however. His wife has very good food he calls to us as he strolls off with the French. How can we refuse?
Rosy is a short plump woman in a peach-coloured top and blue jeans, her hair neatly braided. Rosy’s Cafeteria is a small shack, painted bright yellow and dark blue, like her husband’s office. The kitchen is an even smaller shack made from rusty iron plates directly behind it. We get to see the kitchen when our extremely limited Spanish renders the food-negotiations hopeless. Hands and feet are not enough, we need to be shown the real thing. There are flies everywhere. The floor is packed dirt. We can have rice and salad with either chicken, lamb, fish or, I assume, beef. Everything is steeped in a deep brown thick sauce. We are hesitant at first, because of the flies mainly, but finally decide on the chicken.

In front of the cafeteria, in the shade of two trees and a large blue tarpaulin, stand six white plastic tables. We sit down on the one the furthest away from the shack, hoping that no one thinks that we are afraid of the flies.
A young woman brings us our food. Maybe Rosy’s daughter. Her sister more like, Rosy seems too young, the girl too old.
Two big plates of rice with beans and pumpkin. Has the thing with the chicken got through? Yes, here it comes: two small bowls full of chicken thighs and sauce. And a plate of salad with tomato and avocado.
It looks good. It tastes even better. We immediately forget all about the kitchen. The chicken is juicy and tender. The rice is nicely seasoned, I think I detect some cinnamon. And the avocado is the best we’ve ever had.
Halfway through out meal Rosy’s husband sits down next to us. The French have left, I think they were buyers.
The Husband is in a good mood. He has lived fifteen years in Munich, he says. Working for half a dozen different travel agencies. Tui. Schauinsland. Neckerman. You name it. But the Dominican Republic is better, not as cold. We agree.
He owns his own business now, which is better too, but summer is the off-season. No whales, business is slow. Good for the tourists, bad for him. Again we agree.
He likes Samana best, not only because he lives here, it is also less tourist infested. I sense a bit of a contradiction there, but he explains. When he moved back to the Dominican Republic, after Munich, he lived in Las Terrenas. Beautiful town, he says, but too many tourists. He was in a movie. Klinik unter Palmen, Hospital beneath palm-trees. German production. Harald Junke and someone else, I forget. Man, can the Germans drink, he says. I can imagine, I think. Two liters of rum a day. The strong kind; 75% alcohol. Wow, I think, now that I didn’t imagine. Still, since then Las Terrenas seems to be overrun be the Germans. We are glad that we are here, in Las Galeras. The man next door leaves his house. He says goodbye to our host. He’s Swiss, says Rosy’s husband in a low voice, very strange accent. He touches his throat, makes a strangling motion. We agree. The Swiss talk funny.

Rosy’s husband moves on to speak with some of his friends. Soon our lunch is finished. We pay 340 pesos. That’s less than seven euros. Ten dollars. And that included drinkies. Rosy seems pleased when we tell her that is was muy bien. Very good. It’s not a lie.
We are a little sad that we didn’t book our day trips with Rosy’s husband. Maybe another time. It would be good to see the whales.