October 12, 2008

Arrival

We are officially here, now its time to get settled in. We arrived in
Santo Domingo and went through customs with no problems. All our bags
made it including my baseball stuff, that's one big worry off my
chest. Lindsay and I didn't really know who was picking us up or what
so we just walked out side with all of our bags and a little Dominican
named "Johnny" comes running up and says my name and shakes my hand. I
figured that he was our guy so we followed him. He loaded our stuff
into a crappy looking van and we hopped in. After waiting for about 10
minutes a ball player named Valerio De Los Santos got in with us. He
is a nine year big league veteran who is playing for Licey this year.
We talked with him as we road into town, stopping once to get a few
bottled waters and he bought us each a "Presidente" beer. Its their
national beer, so trying not to make a bad first impression we drank
them. It was pretty good, tasted just like Bud Light. As we drove
through Santo Domingo it looked like I thought it was going to...
really poor, bad roads, and crazy drivers. During the middle of the
day all the streets were packed with cars, vans, and dirt bikes. There
were a lot of people on the street corners selling stuff and just
hanging out. The one really nice thing is the palm trees and the
water, when we were going into town it was really nice and blue.

We got to the hotel and checked in. I gave Johnny $300 American
dollars and asked if he could exchange it somewhere for peso's. He was
able to get us a great exchange rate, 34.85 peso's per dollar. Lindsay
looked it up online and said the official rate is 35 to 1. We were
curious at the airport and asked what kind of rate they would give us
and they said 29 to 1.

The hotel room is ok. The beds and bathroom look great but we really
needed some sort of kitchen things to cook so we didn't have to eat
out every meal. There is a refrigerator, sink, and stove top but no
microwave or any pots, pans, or dishes. We looked into upgrading to a
full kitchen hotel room but it was going to cost $45 dollars a day
more. We are going to give it a couple days and see what other people
are doing or where they are living. De Los Santos said that the team
will pay for us to get an apartment if we want.

After getting our stuff in the room we headed out into the madness to
find some food. As we are walking around everyone is staring at us and
they seem to stop whatever they were doing to see what we were are
doing. All the parking lots have two guards in uniforms with shotguns
at the front of them keeping an eye on everything. Every street corner
and infront of most stores there are groups of men just sitting
around. It looks like there are drug deals going down everywhere but
that's not what it is. Finally we came across a pizza place and went
in.

Lindsay hasn't let go of the spanish/english dictionary since we've
been here and we really needed it to get food. Our waitress spoke no
english so there was a lot of pointing at the menu and hand gestures
along with some broken spanish we tried saying. It eventually worked
and we got our pizza which we thought would be a safe first meal.
After that we found a grocery store and bought a few Gatorades,
waters, peanut butter, jelly, bread, oatmeal bars, and apple sauce.
Thats as far as we wanted to venture into the Dominican food for right
now. I also bought a crappy little cell phone with some minutes so we
can call home. It only cost about $14 dollars for the phone plus it
came with 20 minutes of call time.

We had dinner at the hotel's nice restaurant and it was really good.
We each got chicken something with a tasty sauce on top and rice. So
far everything seems to be going smooth with the food so we hope it
stays that way. Johnny is picking the guys up tomorrow in the lobby at
8:00am to go to the field and I think we are going to practice later
in the day.

So far so good, I really think this is going to be fun. We'll probably
have more to talk about in a few days. The internet isn't letting us
upload pictures right now...I'll figure it out and there will be some
up soon.

Adam and Lindsay

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