Monday, June 23, 2014

Swimming with piranas

We have thoroughly enjoyed the time that we have spent in the Dominican Republic. We loved the people, a friendlier culture is hard to find.  So, it would be fair to assume that Punta Cana would only be a variation on the last 2 months or so, right? Guess again, Punta Cana has been more like staying in Dracula's castle with vampires all around just waiting for you to drop your guard, and then suck the blood out of you. Punta Cana is not the Dominican Republic. 
The place itself is the product bulldozers, cement, and landscaping. All of the vernacular character is sucked out, and replaced by the imagery of pompous wealth. The Americans that come here are somewhat affluent, but have only 5, maybe 7 days to relax after having worked all year. The underlying urgency to enjoy a "vacation" precipitates their turning a blind eye to the price gouging. "It will all be over in less than a week, so just make the best of it now."  It's is like a feeding frenzy, and your money is whats on the menu. For example, when you rent a car the attendant will try to mark the fuel a bit higher than it really is. Then when you try to return it he'll mark it lower than it really is. Any complaints by you while they do this, simply get ignored. If you get angry enough they'll try to give you some spin, and still not correct the report. I think that they siphon the fuel for their own use or profit, and the company's none the wiser. What's 20 bucks to a rich American?
At the gas stations they pump about a gallon or two of fuel out, and have the nozzle off the pump waiting for "Sucker Joe" to pull up. You do not pump your own fuel here. They'll try to stand between the pump, and the driver. They are quick about concealing the meter, and have the nozzle in place, in your car, and pump a little fuel out before you tell them how much fuel you want.
The restaurants know that you'll never come here again, at least not in the near future. They know that you'll pay the bill placed in front of you regardless of the food you were served. Heck, even the government joins in, and tacks on a 28% tax cause you're just a dumb rich American. Oh, add a tip to that! Let touch on the quality of the food, which is probably what inspired me to write this article. Cooking is my hobby. I have enjoyed culinary delights from New Orleans to the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Not often, I not bragging, but I've had a little exposure. The only resemblance to a quality meal was the price. In Punta Cana I have had a worst grouper than I thought was possible. It was microwaved into a rubbery substance that required a sharp steak knife to cut through.
At the end of the day, what bothers me most is not the money, it is being persistently thought a fool by so many. It's like they have all attended a "Swindle the American" seminar.

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