We decided that in order to not feel trapped on our boat in Luperon for the next five months we need to buy a car. You see although Luperon is cheap, the people are lovely, and it is very laid back, it is not the most “kid friendly” place. There are not many options for our girls, no nearby open green spaces to run, no “quiet” beaches to play on (there are a couple of nearby beaches but I am on constant watch because of the size of the surf), no functional playgrounds to burn energy (we have found one playground in town but it is a definite fixer upper), no area where the girls can just be free. A car would allow us to change up the scenery every now and again, which I know would be a huge help on our sanity since we are already noticing some negativities from the girls being pent up. We started our search for a little “beater” car which we could use for the next 4-5 months and then possibly resell when we leave. We are looking to spend somewhere around $2000, mas o menos, a beater I said.
Our first attempt at car shopping was a fail. We found an ad on the Everything Cabarete Facebook page and decided that since it was a fellow Canadian maybe it would be worth checking out (you know, maybe he wouldn’t just see a gringo wallet and not try and rip us off). The car was “ok”, but the guy, lets just say that he discouraged us with his negative banter.
Back in Luperon we saw two other cars. One is a little red car, we had rented before and knew how it drove, decently. And the second is a Suzuki jeepstyle vehicle. (The Suzuki runs on gas and propane, which is common here, totally illegal in North America, but cheaper than gas). We like the Suzuki, it is a bit above our price range, but still wanted to drive to Santiago, a bigger nearby city, just to have the piece of mind that we checked around.
Today we rented a car, met up with our friend Yolkie, who was coming as our Dominican token, so it wasn’t just two gringos shopping for a car, and because he knew of a few people selling cars in the city. We set off nice and early to beat rush hour. Santiago’s main street is lined with car lots on either side, back to back. We drove down some side roads to a tiny lot that had about 10 cars. This was our first destination. We checked out their inventory, which everything seemed to be priced at 180,000 RDpesos for some reason, and didn’t see much that interested us, for that price. Our searching began. After this first stop it felt like we went to see everyone and his cousin. Each of the following cars we went to visit (singular, as we were seeing them one at a time) was simply referred to us by the previous car owner we visited. We saw about 6 cars today, all of which were beaters but still above our ideal price. You see DR is an island, so logically cars are imported, making them not so cheap, even for beaters. By 2o’clock we retired to Macdonald’s (oh yes salty American food you can only find in the city) and discussed our day. Most of the cars we saw were corollas/camrys types, about as old as us, and going for about $1000US more than we thought we would spend. The problem was that we had been tainted by that Suzuki back in Luperon. That is truly our best option. After our meal we returned home and bumped into the Suzuki owner again in the street. We told him about our interest but that we would need to negotiate the price a bit further.
This is where the car shopping day ended. Obviously it is, to be continued…until we find and finalize a car.
Our thoughts on Santiago, a city we had never visited until today. Between the car visits we got to see that this city thrives on Thursdays when their local street market is in full swing. There, we were told, you can find everything from clothes to cooking appliances. The everyday street vendors will walk up to your car at stoplights and offer you fruit for half the price of what we are paying in Luperon (5 pineapples for 100$RD)and this gave us our first experience with Dominican strawberries, bought off the street. One man was even trying to sell a puppy to passing cars. This city has many of the same American food chains back home (Mcdonals, KFC, Burger King, etc). It has a huge hardware store, Ochoa, which has everything we could possibly need for upcoming boat projects. It has more than its share of car lots. And our final quick remark, there is a ton of air pollution, I barely have a voice left after our excursion today. Of course we will have to return to Santiago on a day when we are not car shopping to have more time to explore.