Columbus Wuz Here Columbus Lighthouse, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

There is controversy whether this is a lighthouse and whether Columbus’s bones are really inside the not so small ornate iron box in the center of this ornate display.

Columbus found this island on the first of his four voyages to the New World. Interestingly enough, he never set foot on America’s soil but set up his family  comfortably in the Dominican Republic to give them a good life and claim to  lands he discovered for the King of Spain.

He was a visionary, as well as a businessman, and having audience with Kings and Queens is no easy task because, being important people, their time is worth more than ours. Mounting an expedition that was going to the ends of the world was a dangerous  enterprise.

This memorial is not really a lighthouse, and,not attractive. I’m guessing the great man would have rather remained in the Cathedral in Parque Colon, but, he had no choice. His bones couldn’t stand up and speak up for him.

The big things I learn today are that, when walking, things you see are much further to get to than they look. Whenever you get lost, call a taxi and pay a few bucks to get where you want to go so you don’t  spend your entire trip walking in  circles.

It seems odd to celebrate a man who discovered America, and odd I’m standing here taking a photo of what we are told is the explorer’s final resting place?

He and his beloved Santa Maria , right now, are most likely somewhere north, northeast of Mars navigating under celestial lights on dark dark seas with only a compass and telescope. He is doing in the next world what he did in this one.

His bones might be here, but he doesn’t need them for his new discoveries.

 

 

Model A “Phaeton” In McDonalds parking lot - Thursday - June 13, 2019

According to Art, this is a Model A, a ” Phaeton.”

He spells p-h-a-e-t-o-n out for me, this morning, when the two of us are conversing at our usual McDonalds, down the street from the Candelaria street McDonalds where I saw this beauty yesterday afternoon.

It’s owner was an older man, a car nut, who drives his dream car to car shows and likes to meet with other gentlemen and talk shop about their pride and joy automobiles, and, of course, their pride and joy wives and/or girlfriends.

This convertible, with its white removable top, immaculate paint job, upholstery that smelled factory new, and sparkling details, stood out for me in the McDonalds parking lot, way too nice to be there. I took photos for my scrapbook and compared her to newer models that didn’t compare to her, half as well.

With all comparisons, there is some prejudice involved.

I tend to like old vehicles, old buildings, and, even some old people. They have character and miles on their odometers that proves they run and have lasting power.

Inside the McDonalds, I complimented the car’s owner and he smiled with pride and nodded his head as he sipped his black coffee with two sugars, now costing a dollar instead of a nickel when his ” Phaeton ” was brand new.

I thought, as I left, that getting compliments is one of the big reasons he drives her to McDonalds.

You don’t want to keep a show horse like this cooped up in the barn.

 

Just Statues Lincoln and Reagan

At the entry to the Fountain Hills Park are a number of statues, some seated on benches, some standing, all with commemorative plaques and praising comments at their feet.The figures cast shadows, some longer than others. Most of the statues are of men and most have been Presidents of the United States.

Presidents, as we know from watching those we have voted for, have lots of good speechwriters, lots of philosophy and confidence.They enter office with one mindset and leave with another. Leading the United States, on a day to day basis, is like trying to keep water in a glass that keeps springing holes. You enter office believing you can benefit the country knowing that half the voters believe you are aren’t worth the time of day. Presidents leave office hoping they didn’t have to deal with war, a disastrous Depression, or any number of calamities that come upon a nation. You are glad, when your term is up, to let someone else drive the stagecoach.

This morning Lincoln and Reagan look like old friends and it would be revealing to sit on a bench on a moonlit night listening to their stories about unruly cabinet members, hostile Congressmen and women, an unrelenting negative press, and military misadventures.

There are those who would like to cart these two men and their memories away, store them in a warehouse providing props to the movie industry,

We  expect far too much from our Presidents, and our Government.

This country will rise and fall on the efforts of us who will never have a statue of ourselves in a park..

 

 

 

Frisbee Golf- Video Fountain Hills Park, Fountain Hills, Arizona

Golf, as invented in the Scottish countryside, used sticks and a ball.

Those old guys hit for a distant hole dug in the ground and added traps and water and hazards to make the game even harder than it is.They created a rule book and came up with tournaments and prizes to keep competition interesting and playing the game seem more noble than it actually is. Hitting a small ball with a stick with a club head, and getting it to go where you want it to, is a devilishly difficult skill.

Frisbee golf, as invented in our time, has recently become popular. There is a frisbee golf course around this Fountain Hills Lake and it features eighteen designated holes, some par three, par four, and par five. There are no traps but the goal is the same – get the ball around the course in the fewest amount of strokes, or throws.

These guys are practicing this morning for a Sunday tournament, and, by empty picnic benches, competitors are stretching, taking their frisbees out of Wal Mart tote bags and wiping them down with a clean rag.These two contestants tell me there are different sized frisbees for the different shots they have to make in a round. They  let me try my hand and toss one of their frisbees at a close by basket they are using to practice for their ten o clock tournament.

I give the frisbee a toss and manage to land it inside the little upright basket.

There is room in this world for ” frisbee golf. ”

After a round of ” frisbee golf ” I expect everyone  will easily be found at their ” nineteenth hole. ”

Drinking predates golf by thousands of years, and explaining why your score was so high is easier with a cold beer, chips and dip.

Whether it is real golf, or frisbee golf, GOLF is still a four letter word.

 

 

 

Watch out above Getting wet on a dry day

I’m walking, minding my business, on a cloudless day. 

Water pours down like someone is pouring a bucket of water on me, which they are. In the Zona Colonia, water used to mop balcony floors, or spilled when watering plants, exits the balcony by being swept through a piece of PVC pipe sticking through the balcony walls far enough that excess water falls to the street below. Walking here, I’ve had plenty of unwanted showers.

My next precaution is to take an umbrella on my sightseeing jaunts.

If I had a plug and a ladder, I’d climb up and fix my problem and give these careless horticulturists a well deserved back up of their balcony plumbing.

All they have to do is look down and make sure no one is below before they empty their buckets and move their brooms.

That’s common courtesy, but, i guess, you don’t have to worry about good manners when you live on the top floor.

When you live upstairs, it gets easier to forget to look out for those below you.

 

 

 

Arturo Fuente Cigar Club Cigar Expedition Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Tobacco farms and factories, I learn, are actually located closer to the city of Santiago, in the Dominican Republic.

The Arturo Fuentes Cigar Club, in Santo Domingo, is mostly a retail smoke shop, but it is also a gathering place for those who love to smoke their cigars and talk about the experience. It is a place, later in the evening, for anyone who wants to shop for fine cigars and accessories, have a drink, book one of the private smoking rooms for a personal party, or just sit in the bar and share cigar stories with people who love to hear them.

Alan, my cigar loving brother, tells me he met Carlito Fuentes at a cigar exposition in Las Vegas, Nevada a few years back and has a photo of Carlito and himself with Carlito’s sister. Alan likes the “858” Maduro’s and appreciates the civic works of the Fuentes family.

This morning the store has just opened. The cleaning staff is still at work dusting and vacuuming, and the receptionist is kind enough to show me the club’s premier cigar vault, answer my questions, wait for me to call my brother to see what cigars he wants, if any, and show me some of the Club’s hidden perks.

One of the coolest areas is a little room, off the main lobby, that has individual lockers stocked with their owners own personal stash of cigars so they can have one any time they are in the Club, without waiting. One of the lockers is owned by Angel Jimeniz, a professional golfer you see on television in major international tournaments. His name is written on a nice little card in a slot on the door of one of the lockers.

The sales girl finds me a nice box for the cigars I buy for Alan, rings up my sale and packs Alan’s cigars nicely, calls me a cab, and advises me that the cab ride is ” not more than two hundred pesos ” which turns out to be 100% correct.

Next time back here, I’ll dress nicer,spend more money. and leave her a bigger tip.

People on this island are exceedingly gracious.

If they had this store, in the Zona Colonia, I would be there every evening, cradling a cigar, still in its wrapper, in my right hand.

Rum is enough to keep this non-smoker happy as I listen to patrons ramble about their cigars, their love life,politics and their latest business victory.

Smoking, for me, seems silly.

 

 

Hand rolling cigars in DR-Video In the Zona Colonia

The little cigar making room, entered through a small corner tobacco shop in the Zona Colonia, has four men inside. One is reading the paper, another is watching the cigars being made, two men are working – making cigars, by hand, one at a time. 

” He is muy rapidio, ” I remark.

” He can do 300 in a day if we don’t talk to him, ” one of the non-workers says.

By the look on both men’s faces, who are working, they must be paid by the cigar. They are intent on what they are doing, responsible for making cigars so people that smoke them won’t smoke any flaws.

This workplace smells like tobacco.Tobacco leaves, dry and thin, are clumped around a press on the floor. There are pieces of leaves on the desk of the man in the gold colored shirt, and more on the work table of the man in the blue shirt.. It appears the two workers make a team. One man makes the rough cigars, stores them in a wood sleeve that the other man pulls to his table and finishs. The tools both men use are simple and not any different from what either might have used a hundred years ago to do the same job.

I watch the finish man pick several cigars up from his finished stack to check the smoking end to make sure, once lit, the cigar will draw air and keep its combustion.

These men take pride in their work.

If I was a cigar smoker, I would like to smoke the ones they are making this day I am watching them.

Men will turn themselves into machines if it profits them, but men, bottom line, were never made to be  machines.

 

 

 

 

Juan Voight-Artis Plastic @instagram Juan Rodriquez Artista

Just off Colon Plaza, straight east past the Pizzerella pizza parlor, Juan shows up to work every day.

He says he has been an artist since he was a little boy, teaches at the college just behind his little outdoor work space, and makes his living as a full time artist. He works deliberate. Watercolors demand precision, a good sense not to let the brush stay too long in one place, be too wet or have too much color in the bristles. Watercolors can be quirky, like water itself.

Juan’s items for sale include originals, but, also popular, are postcards he runs off in series of 100 and sells three for $10.00 U.S. His prints are of scenes one sees in the Zona Colonia – the Cathedral, the Plaza Espana, the Parque Colon, the Alcazar de Don Colon.

Juan remembers me from an earlier conversation and takes the time to make me a special carrying pocket for my postcards, carefully recording his name and instagram gallery url on the outside.

I think of Carlos Paez Valario, the Uruguay artist ,and Roberto Ibarra, in Montevideo.

I remember the Cerulean Gallery in Amarillo.

I can see my mother’s works hung in our childhood home.

I visualize street art of Columbia, Ecuador, Uruguay and the Dominican Republic.

Juan’s works are a combination of creative spirit tempered by the hands of a draftsman.

The medium you work in makes demands and helps determine your process and product.

Scotttreks postcards average two hundred words each.

You can’t say too much in two hundred words but you never want to say too little.

 

Street Empanadas One street over from Calle Estrellita

Every time I pass, I see customers at this little empanada stand – ordering, sitting in these plastic lawn chairs,visiting, stopping a moment in life, standing, moving away, replaced in moments by someone else.

It is all very random. The process is like those parts of the atom scrawled on our high school Biology board – the protons, electrons, neutrons and all the things not up there that we still don’t know about, and may never know about.

The empanada menu here is extensive and all are less than one U.S. dollar apiece. This morning, for breakfast, my order is a ham and cheese empanada, a pollo empanada and two orders of pineapple juice naturale, served with ice in a dixie cup. 

I should have tried these empanadas earlier in the trip but stuff always crowds you on trips, distractions and diversions, side trips and just plain not getting around to it. The point is, there are always places to get a quick bite within walking distance of where you are staying, if you look. 

I  appreciate fine dining with exquisite tastes and beautifully designed plates served on white tablecloths with a candle and the best silverware, but I always regret having to pay for a meal and then having to go buy more food to feel full. 

If I lived here, I would be a regular and D would give me the local price, like anyone else.

 

Corner market Keeping in the neighborhood

At night, when it is cool, Santo Domingo neighborhood people, in the Colonial District, congregate in front of the local mini market and watch sports on a big screen television, or sit outside on their balconies or front porches and visit over what happened to them during their day.

This group of grown men and women, on the corner, down from the LaPuerta Guesthouse, are watching an American basketball game on television this evening. Some grown men are on their cell phones, others are talking about something other than the game, the rest are watching equally grown men in under- shorts running up and down a court, tossing a ball into a basket, and getting paid millions.

Anything that gets people out of their house and visiting their neighbors can’t be all bad.

Sports and competition run deep within all cultures.

We all like to be entertained and mildly challenged.

When things get too serious and/or too hard, lots of us take our ball and go home.

 

 

 

 

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