Boca Chica is a little village located 30km more East than Santo Domingo, on the southern coast of the Dominican Republic, a country situated on the island of La Hispaniola, which they share with their neighbours, Haiti is listed as one of the poorest nations in the world.
Unfortunately, the relationships between these two countries are not smooth: the differences, inequalities and conflicts have intensified
and aggravated even more after the heavy hurricanes and the cholera epidemic which hit the Haitian population over the past
Once again, we find that the origins of such a situation dig their roots way back into the History. We have to acknowledge that these seeds of
discord have been sowed a long time ago, here like elsewhere, from hands who were not working these soils but came from far away to
exploit them and enslave their natives. That thick, dangerous border line which divides the French-controlled part of the island, Haiti,
from the Spanish-settled zone, Dominican Republic was not there when the indigenous people, the Tainos among others, were inhabiting
the island. Other were the issues back then, surely, and conflicts were eventually present also before the arrival of the Spaniards, but
it is undeniable that the dreadful events that followed the landing of the first Spanish settlers in La Hispaniola opened up the way for
one of the most shameful chapters of Human history, colonization, which has deep and atrocious repercussions on
all Central and South American continents till our present days. This is in fact the island where Christopher Columbus first landed in 1492. Santo Domingo, the capital of DR, an immense city, overwhelming in its size and crowding was also the first permanent Spanish and European settlement in this part of the Earth in the whole History.
La Hispaniola is a beautiful and wild island, and very big too! In the Caribbean region, it is second only to Cuba in its size and
demography. Its waters, skies and forest are home to many different endemic species of flora and fauna: from the humpback whales, that
come here to reproduce nearby Samana, to the threatened and rare rhino iguanas, and more than 300 species of birds. And finally, in
its rocky guts are hidden ancient deposits some of Amber and of Larimar, a rare “stone” of a stunning turquoise colour, found
basically only in DR. And last but not least, much of the coffee and cacao we drink and eat worldwide has been grown here.
The Dominican Republic offers a very different experience compared to the smaller paradise islands Tres Hombres visits, but it is surely a crucial stop not merely for our cargo operations but also for our crew, to build up a deeper, and more comprehensive, overview of the History of the Caribbean.
For provisioning, I walked to the market area of San Andres, a 10min walk from the commercial harbour. The first day I spent shopping around at all the different stalls trying to get a gauge of what was on offer and the different prices. The language spoken there is Spanish which I have just enough of a grasp of to do some of my own negotiation, which was fun. It became apparent that I was getting the best deals with Maria, a very warm woman who ran her food stall with the help of her partner and daughter (on a side post scriptum note: we are still in touch via voice messages, she is really sweet and caring). I decided to organize the bulk of the big crossing order through her.
She also explained to me how it works: all the market stall holders go to a big night market to get their products in San Domingo. Maria told us she goes at 1 AM, three times a week. I have also seen her at her own stall every day of the week, so I can only imagine how long are the days that she works! We asked if we could go with her to the night market, but she wasn’t sure if it was safe for us as white people and was also worried that if she was seen with us they would raise the price of the veg sold to her. Fair enough!
Instead, I put together a big list and she went and got it on my behalf. The next morning her partner Angel drove the approximately 150kg of veg to the fish market, our dinghy spot close to the port. Here we loaded it onto the dinghy in three runs and got it on board. Storing it all away for the big crossing was a big mission as well, but this is another story.