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.