A Day at the Botanical Gardens…

Sunday my friends Kevin and Susan invited me and several other friends to the Santo Domingo Jardines Botánicos (Botanical Gardens) to have turkey sandwiches. Well perhaps I should re-phrase that, it actually was Kevin’s idea, unbeknown to Susan, and as it turns out, there was no turkey left over anyway.

I was without a car because I didn’t renew my plates in time and the police were impounding cars all over the city for driving without current plates — didn’t want that. So, taxi it was. My dear friend Alvin suggested I bring the kids and that meant bringing the new weekend nanny, Yeni (pronounced Jenny), along too. After making banana pancakes with fruit syrup for the crew, we all prepped up with a change of clothes for my little girl (she is out of diapers but just in case there is an accident), snacks for both, toys, and their 3-wheelers to ride. the kids were excited; I felt like I was still waking up even though it was almost 11am.

It appeared like we arrived at the entrance to the gardens at the same time as everyone else in the entire city. It was mobbed and in classic Dominican style: complete chaos. I found a shady spot with the kids and bikes while Alvin bought tickets and we waited for our friends.

Although we watched people enter the gardens with chairs and folding tables, giant stew pots of food, suitcases of clothes and children in strollers, we were told that the kids could not bring their bikes in with them. Go figure.

When our friends arrived I had a suspicion based on the lack of any food-related bundle, that the turkey sandwiches were not happening. Ok fine.

First a bathroom break. nice and empty and quiet when we entered but then… whoosh! a FLOOD of girls entered, dragging their suitcases in with them, practically blocking us into the stalls. I had to push and ask ‘permiso’ repeatedly just to get out!

There a train that takes you around the garden but it leaves every 30 minutes and when we arrived one had just left. We decided to walk to the Japanese garden — bad choice. One hour later we finally got there. Meanwhile, Elsa fell asleep and Yeni wass carrying her — not an easy task. Elsa had been asking for the bathroom but there was none around so we tried to see if she would go outside but she was too uncomfortable. When we arrived at the Japanese garden I was certain there must be a bathroom there so I asked. I was told that the only open bathroom was at the entrance, where we had come from. Unbelievable. The other bathrooms were locked and only opened for events. I don’t know why I continue to be surprised here.

We were only allowed to be in the Japanese garden for 10 minutes so as not to overrun it. By then I was completely exhausted and had already seen it so I just sat and rested along with Yeni and sleeping Elsa.

Luckily the train was there when my friends returned and although they chose to walk, I took the train with the kids, etc. arriving at the entrance we took care of bathroom duties finally and I bought them some “pizza” which really looked just like white dough with ketchup and ham. Still, my son loved it. Easy to please…

The highlight of the day, however, came during the lunch where I heard what sounded like thunder. I then look ahead at the gazebo next to us where I see about 20 people, kids and adults, all gathered in rapt attention watching a movie on a laptop with a home theater system. Food was piled everywhere — giant stew pot plus trays of other food, plates, drinks, everything.

So here they all were, in one of the few great spots of natural beauty in the city, and what are they doing? Watching a movie. Only in the Dominican Republic…

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