Antigua – Morning at English Harbour

English Harbour, Antigua, 19 September 2016

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Antigua, Architecture, English Harbour, Fish, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife

We hired a car in Antigua and drove around as shown on this map.  The airport is at the top and we stayed at English Harbour, which is at the middle bottom.

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This is a view in the early morning from where we were staying at English Harbour.

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These days there is a marina.  In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was Britain’s main naval base in the Caribbean.

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We went for a drive and walk to the coast a bit further south.  Here we are looking back towards English Harbour and it is Fort Berkeley at centre left, built in 1704.  We will visit there later.

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From the same spot, looking south.

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A frigate bird overhead.

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From the same viewpoint as the earlier image including Fort Berkeley, but showing the context with a wide angle lens.

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This is a Turk’s Head or Barrel Cactus, endemic to the Caribbean.  Also known as Mother-in-law’s Pincushion.

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Closer view with a tiny flower.

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This is Galleon Beach, Freeman’s Bay, so we’ve driven all the way around to the beach on the other side of the harbour behind Fort Berkeley in the previous images.

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Back on the docks at English Harbour.  A fishing boat has arrived and the fish are circling.  These are quite large, say about a metre long but they are not the target.

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There are swirls of activity as bits are thrown out.

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It’s a bit like a koi pool but this is the ocean.

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They are bringing the catch ashore.  I presume it is tuna.

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The crabs are interested too.

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And just a few minutes later, we have some tasty fillets.

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St Martin – Market and Beaches

St Martin, Sint Maarten, 17-18 September 2016

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Architecture, Grand Case, Happy Bay Beach, Landscape, Maho Beach, Marigot Markets, Photography, Sint Maarten, St Martin, Street photography, Travel

In the morning we went to the Marigot Markets.  Here are some fishermen preparing fish beside the sea.

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A huge array of shells.

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These locals appear to have locked themselves out of their car.

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Architecture, Grand Case, Happy Bay Beach, Landscape, Maho Beach, Marigot Markets, Photography, Sint Maarten, St Martin, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Grand Case, Happy Bay Beach, Landscape, Maho Beach, Marigot Markets, Photography, Sint Maarten, St Martin, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Grand Case, Happy Bay Beach, Landscape, Maho Beach, Marigot Markets, Photography, Sint Maarten, St Martin, Street photography, Travel .

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Markets in the background.

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Next we went to Maho Beach, which is right beside the airport.  This sign on the fence at the beach and also at the end of the runway warns of the dangers but not all people take notice.  It is particularly dangerous when a plane has backed up to this end of the runway to take off.  People can cling to the fence to experience the jet blast but they can get blown away and unable to hang on.  About nine months after I took this photograph, a woman from New Zealand died here when she was blown off the fence and hit her head on te kerb.

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Here is the beach, the runway just to the right.  We saw this view from the air as the plane came in a couple of posts ago.

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And there’s a plane on the way.

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There it goes….

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Nearby we saw these posters for a forthcoming Sint Maarten election.  Lots of big posters may not amount to much it seems.  At the previous election the party of these posters won only around 1% of the vote and it no longer exists.

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Nearby this sailing ship was tied up at a wharf.

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Could it be a surviving Dutch fluyt from the seventeenth century?

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No, it’s quite modern, either a replica or a fantasy.  Semper pro gradiens (always progressing) is the motto of Sint Maarten.

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In the afternoon we went to Petit Plage, just north of Grand case, for a swim.  I didn’t take a camera with me because I didn’t want to leave it unaccompanied on the beach though as it turns out I could have because there were not many people around.  But I have no images of that to show you.  This is the beach at Grand Case late in the afternoon.

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An old house on the street in Grand Case.

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Next day we were due to fly out in the afternoon but had enough time to visit Happy Day Beach for another swim.

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There were no other people around when we turned up.

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Architecture, Grand Case, Happy Bay Beach, Landscape, Maho Beach, Marigot Markets, Photography, Sint Maarten, St Martin, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Grand Case, Happy Bay Beach, Landscape, Maho Beach, Marigot Markets, Photography, Sint Maarten, St Martin, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Grand Case, Happy Bay Beach, Landscape, Maho Beach, Marigot Markets, Photography, Sint Maarten, St Martin, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Grand Case, Happy Bay Beach, Landscape, Maho Beach, Marigot Markets, Photography, Sint Maarten, St Martin, Street photography, Travel .

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Some people turned up while we were there and were swimming as we left.

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Around St Martin

St Martin, Sint Maarten, 16 September 2016

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Anse Marcel, Architecture, Fort Louis, Grand Case, Guana Bay, History, Landscape, Le Galion, Orient Bay, Photography, Rotary Bay, Sint Maarten, St Martin, Street photography, Travel

On our first full day on St Martin we circumnavigated the island, starting from our accommodation near Grand Case.

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And here we are at Grand Case, looking north from the beach.

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This is looking south along the beach, from about the same place.

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As you can see, it had the feel of a charming village and was the gastronomic centre of St Martin and Sint Maarten.

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An old house in need of restoration.

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From the beach.

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Anguilla in the background.

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It must now be much changed, first devastated by Hurricane Irma, which passed directly over  a year later, and now presumably largely closed down by CIVID-19.

Here is a link to a French Government video showing the devastation of the hurricane over Grand Case.  Maximise it to full screen to run it otherwise it will be very small.

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Here we are a bit further north at Anse Marcel, essentially a self contained resort.  No shops or eateries that we could see but beaches are public and Jools went for a swim.

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Lizard and hibiscus flower on the beach.  Not set up..

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Looking back at Anse Marcel from the road out.

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We stopped off near Cul de Sac Bay to find a view.  Saint Barthélemy is in the background.  It separated from Guadeloupe in 2003 to form a separate French Overseas Collectivity.

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An egret at the water’s edge.

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We are a bit further on at Orient Bay.

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It was a bit too tourist-focused for us so we kept on going.

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We found a nice quiet place for a swim at Le Galion.

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Not far past Le Galion, we are at Rotary Point.

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Now more toward the south west corner of the island, looking over Guana Bay (at the left).  We are now in Sint Maarten.

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An abandoned mansion, that may have been wiped out by a previous hurricane.

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Meeting some of the locals.

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A view over the commercial centre of Philipsburg.

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We are now back in St Martin at Fort Louis, near Marigot, built in 1797 by local subscription (since there were no local taxes).

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In July 1808 the fort, defended by 28 men was attacked by about 200 men from a British squadron.  They were after the stocks of coffee that the knew to be in the port.  This did not go well for the British.  Seven including one of the Captains were killed, 18 severely wounded and 140 captured.  And they didn’t get any coffee.

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A wreck somewhat more recent that 1808.

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Arawak Indians settled the island about 3,500 years ago and Carib Indians displaced them more recently.  Following their arrival in the region, the Spanish didn’t bother to colonise and the Dutch were the first to settle in 1631.  French and British outposts quickly sprang up but the Spanish arrived and threw them all out in 1633.  However the Spanish deserted the island in 1648 and both Dutch and French returned.  They quickly realised there was no point in a war and agreed to divided the island between them.

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Back at our lodgings again, looking over Grand Case.

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Santo Domingo Monochromes

12-14 September 2016, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

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Links go to posts with the colour versions of the images (where there may also be more information and context). If an image does not have a link, the preceding one applies. (Click on any image to see it larger).

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Art vendor in the centre of the old city.

Catedral Primada de America.

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Around the block from the Cathedral.

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Inside the Cathedral.

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Museo Casa de Tostado.

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A statue of Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés in front of the Tower of Homage.

Fortaleza Ozama.

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This vehicle was parked in the street right outside where we were staying, in the centre of the old city.

Wandering in Santo Domingo.

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Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes or the Church of Our Lady of the Mercedes.

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Calle Hostos.

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Monasterio de San Francisco.

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Alcázar de Colón.

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Museo de las Casas Reales.

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Edges of the Old City.

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Edges of the Old City (Santo Domingo)

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 14 September 2016

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Stepping out from the Museo de las Casas Reales, we encounter a driver with horse and cart, eager to take us for a ride (though we continued on foot).  You may need to click on the image to see it properly but towards the top right is a very old street sign.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it is from the early sixteenth century.

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Walking along the street the horse and cart came from, this is Hostal Nicolas de Ovando, a four star hotel.

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I know approximately where this is but not what it is.  Perhaps an old monastery.

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This is Iglesia de Nuestra Senora del Carmen, attached to Iglesia de los Dominicos, or the Dominican Convent.

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This is a statue of Ingenio Maria del Hostos.  He was a Puerto Rican intellectual who agitated for the independence of Puerto Rico and Cuba at the turn of the twentieth century.  (Instead, they were colonised by the United States).  He ended up living in Santo Domingo.  We are probably in Parque Duarte.

 

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A charming side street.

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An overgrown ruin.  I think, a former religious building.

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The white building bears the sign Fundación Virgen Del Perpetuo Socorro Inc, so I can tell we are in Calle 19 de Marzo, or 19th March Street.  19th March 1844 was the date when an invading Haitian army was defeated in battle.

 

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We are down by the river now and this is Frey Antonio de Ovando.  What can he be shouting out?  Get out of the river?  How do I find my way back to Hostal Nicolas de Ovando?  Help, I’ve got a plant growing on my back and a lightbulb implanted in my head?

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No, it’s Help!  I have a cannon pointed at me!

There could be a reason for that.  He arrived with thirty ships in 1502, became Governor, treated the Indians with great brutality and was recalled for that reason in 1509.

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An ancient door and facade of a religious institution.

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The lizard doorknocker!

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Somewhere around here, a man in dreadlocks appeared and told us it was not safe to walk in this area with cameras, and also invited us to his restaurant that night.

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This is La Puerta del Conde, now the main entrance to El Parque Nacional or Independence Park..

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Some of the detail is interesting.  The statue of the soldier (probably an independence leader).  The soldiers in the shadows at the left.  The cannon pointing down the street.

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We are now in the Altar de la Patria, a mausoleum dedicated to the three founding fathers from the 1844 War of Independence, Juan Pablo Duarte, Francisco del Rosario Sánchez, and Ramón Matías Mella,.

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Still in the same area, we are at El Baluarte del Conde (The Count’s Bulwark), part of the City fortifications dating from 1543.

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With cannons to keep the streets safe…..

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The old and the somewhat new.

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Zonabici, sign for a bicycle rental shop near where we were staying.  This is the last image from our stay in Santo Domingo.

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Museo de las Casas Reales

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 14 September 2016

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Our next stop was Museo de las Casas Reales, or Museum of the Royal houses.  Built in 1511, this was the Real Audience (Royal Audience) or Royal Court of Justice, and also the Palace of the Governors and the General Captaincy until the west side of Hispaniola was ceded to France in 1799 and those functions moved to Cuba.

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These are pages from the first book written in Spanish in the Americas.  It is the navigational diaries of Christopher Columbus and the book of the privileges granted to him by the Crown.

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This must be the Santa Maria.

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The Golden Hind, Drake’s ship.

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The museum houses the history of the island from 1492 until 1821.

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The Pharmaceutical Products industry, founded in the sixteenth century, incorporated both Indian and Spanish knowledge.  It was established by a Spaniard married to an Indian named Antonio de Villa-Sante and featured a balm for many ailments derived from the guacunax tree.

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Rifles from the eighteenth to nineteenth centuries.

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Persian helmet, shield and arm guards.  Also Turkish sword.  Eighteenth to nineteenth centuries.

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Apparently a Grand Reception Hall.

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An eighteenth century warship, I’d say, but I didn’t record the label.

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Santo Domingo in 1785.

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Presumably the “throne” of the Governor.

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The portrait at the left is of Francisco de Vitoria (1486 – 1546), known for his defence of the rights of Indians against the settlers and his advocacy of the limits of justifiable warfare.

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Alcázar de Colón

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 14 September 2016

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On our way from Monasterio de San Francisco to Alcázar de Colón, we passed the doorway to Casa del Cordon (which is not open to the public).  It was built in the very early 16th century and is be3lieved to be the oldest stone house in the Americas.  For a period from 1509 it was home to Diego Columbus, son of Christopher and Governor at the time.

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Now we are inside Alcázar de Colón (or Castle of Columbus) which is now a museum.

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Diego Columbus moved here from Casa de Cordon after it was built.  Wikipedia says that Alcázar de Colón is the only known residence of Diego, which is clearly wrong.

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It was built between 1510 and 1514 of coral rocks, using 1,500 actually or effectively enslaved Taino Indians.

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It once had fifty-five rooms and a number of gardens and courtyards.  It now has twenty-two rooms which are open to the public.

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The Columbus family lived here until 1577.  In 1586 Sir Francis Drake plundered it.

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Alcázar de Colón, Architecture, Dominican Republic, History, Landscape, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

From the mid-eighteenth century it was abandoned and fell into ruins.

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It was restored between 1955 and 1957 although there was controversy at the time of the historical sensitivity of this project.

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Alcázar de Colón, Architecture, Dominican Republic, History, Landscape, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel .

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Alcázar de Colón, Architecture, Dominican Republic, History, Landscape, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

The Palaza houses works of art from the 14th to 17th centuries.

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Alcázar de Colón, Architecture, Dominican Republic, History, Landscape, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel

The painting is presumably Christopher and Diego, and the model the Santa Maria.

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Out on the street again.

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The little metal globes on the kerb were used for the tying of horses.

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Monasterio de San Francisco

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 14 September 2016

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The Monasterio de San Francisco was the first monstery in the Americas.  It was first built in wood in 1508 and rebuilt in stone between 1523 and 1556.

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It was sacked by Drake in 1586 and fully repaired in 1664.  Then it was destroyed again by a cyclone in 1673.

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Beehive on a wall.

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In 1808, in a particularly tumultuous period of Dominican history, the French were in control but had just lost the Battle of Palo Hincado about a hundred kilometres away to Spanish insurgents.  They mounted a cannon on a wooden platform atop the vault and fired two rounds.  On the second, the vault collapsed and was never reconstructed.

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Pigeons adding their own particular brand of mortar to the building.

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Remaining parts of the buildings were used as an insane asylum from 1880 until 1930 when Cyclone San Zenón laid waste to much of what remained and that was never repaired either.

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Currently on Sundays, live bands play Merengue, Bachata, Salsa and Son, but we were unfortunately not there on a Sunday.

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Two posts ago I covered the spectacularly chequered history of Hispaniola and the Dominican Republic.  If you haven’t read that you might like to go back and look at it now.

What I would like to do now is to cover the effect of Karma in that history, from a modern social democrat perspective.

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First the Spanish came to an island with one to two million Taino Indians, living in peace, certainly by the standards of what followed.  The Spanish may not have been socially more advanced but they had armour, steel, horses and guns.  After fifty years there were not many Taino left. Many of them died of disease incubated by the insanitary conditions the Spanish lived in in their homeland.  Had they retained more of the town planning even of the Romans and had they learned more from the Arabs they conquered in Andalusia, this may have been less of an issue.

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Many Taino were slaughtered and many others perished in inhumane servitude, a consequence of the Spanish greed for Power and Gold.  So since they had wiped out most of the Taino, they reverted to importing Africans as slaves.  Of course they treated them just as savagely and many escaped to live with Taino in the mountains.  After only fifty years the settlers needed armed bands to travel between settlements with some safety.

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Then in Europe, the Dutch fought them for their independence and began trading with Spanish settlers on the north and west coasts of Hispaniola for salt they were excluded from.  The Administration catastrophically pulled back their settlers from these coasts to prevent this trade and opened the door to the French, who took over what is now Haiti (then called Sainte-Domingue).  Sainte-Domingue because the wealthiest corner of the Caribbean but it was built on brutal slavery and 90% of the population were slaves (6% were white and 4% free coloureds who might own slaves).

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Then of course the slaves revolted and took over all of Hispaniola for a while but if you have a tradition of authoritarian government and instability it’s not so easy to replace.  Even today, Haiti has become one of the poorest countries in the world and political stability is tenuous while the Dominican Republic, though not without problems, is in a much better place.

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Wiping out most of the Indians and introducing slavery may have seemed like a good idea at the time to some but it was quickly destructive and counter-productive to all, and authoritarian political systems create their own catastrophes sooner or later.

So what could they have done?  The basic problem was the greed, violence and intolerance of the time and that wasn’t restricted to the Spanish.  The gold was ultimately a delusion, they wasted that on unwinnable wars in Europe anyway.

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So let’s contemplate an extreme counterfactual alternative history.  First, before they turned up in the West Indies, they needed to have developed a society characterised by democracy and social justice with good planning, sewerage, medical knowledge and education for all.  Then they could have offered a partnership to the Taino Indians and if they needed additional labour, they could have offered paid employment to Africans and full citizenship of a multicultural society.  Instead of supressing the Dutch they could have negotiated independence for them and a naval partnership.  Then Hispaniola would have been likely to have had a much more successful history.

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Of course the Spain of Ferdinand and Isabella was just slightly different than that.  And it’s easy for us to say, living in a society where there is no greed, income and wealth are equitably distributed, everyone is well-educated  and we take good care of the environment.

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Hold on a sec, maybe that’s not quite right.  How will the future look on us?  Will they consider us any better or even worse?  How much and who will even be left?

We clearly need to improve in terms of arresting global warming, industrial and agricultural pollution, economic & social inequity and general overpopulation.  It all hangs in the balance and notwithstanding our individual cocoons of comfort or discomfort, it’s up to us to generate as much positive effect as we can, both collectively and as individuals.

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Wandering in Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 14 September 2016

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This morning we headed on foot to the ruined monastery of San Francisco.  Usually I show the images sequentially but since my shots of the monastery are interspersed with images from nearby streets, I have separated them out for the next post.

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This vehicle was parked in the street right outside where we were staying, in the centre of the old city.  Its headlights are in less than perfect condition, it lacks a front bumper and numberplate, it is held together with twine, the windscreen is cracked and it has a severe case of rust.  Apart from that, it’s probably in perfect condition.  It may be that it’s not a new vehicle off the showroom floor.  I suspect you wouldn’t last very long though driving it around Canberra.

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Just around the corner from where we were staying was an old church which we had noticed the previous day and it was open so we visited.

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It seemed as though it must be The Church of the Working Man because of the figure at the altar.  He appears to be merely cleaning it though.

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It is in fact Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes or the Church of Our Lady of the Mercedes and there is usually an impressively attired female figure at the altar.

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The Señora de las Mercedes is the patron Saint of the island.  This is presumably her, off to the right of the altar, but a different representation usually stands on the altar.

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It is one of the oldest churches in Santo Domingo, constructed between 1527 and 1555.

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Looking up.  (Fisheye HDR).

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It was sacked by Drake in 1586 and damaged by cyclones in the 1590s and 1628, and by an earthquake in 1615.  It was later restored though so much of it is not original.

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Actually deciphering the Latin inscription is another thing, but this appears to be the tomb of a bishop from 1644.

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Old buildings on the street (This one a largely corrected fisheye image).

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The ruined monastery of San Francisco in the background.

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This is now Calle Hostos.

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This section features some very old workers’ cottages, protected by UNESCO listing.

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A corner of the ruined monastery of San Francisco in the background.

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Architecture, Calle Hostos, Dominican Republic, History, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, Landscape, Photography, Santo Domingo, Street photography, Travel .

Fortaleza Ozama

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 13 September 2016

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Next we visited Fortaleza Ozama, the oldest surviving European military structure in the Americas.  This is the Puerta Carlos III Gate, dating from 1787.

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A statue of Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés in front of the Tower of Homage.

The tower was built from 1502 to 1505 using forced labour from Taino Indians and black slaves.  It has walls two metres thick, making it invulnerable to cannon balls until the late eighteenth century.  Its purpose was defence against Dutch, English and French seaborne raiders, and against rebellions by Taino Indians and black slaves.  Oveido was a writer and historian who was warden of the Fortress from 1533 until 1557.

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I would guess, originally a barracks.

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A view from the Fortaleza of the Ozama River, which gave the Fortaleza its name.

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In 1493, following his first voyage, Christopher Columbus was appointed Viceroy and Governor of the Indies.  After his brother Bartholomew founded Santo Domingo, this became his capital until he was removed by the Spanish crown in 1500.

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A commission between  1498 and 1500 found Columbus and his brothers culpable of extreme brutality to both settlers and Indians.  On his return from his third voyage in 1500, he was arrested and sent back to Spain in chains.  He was later released but not restored as Governor although his son Diego became Governor from 1520 to 1523.

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There were numerous large scale rebellions by Taino Indians in the early years but they had no defence against Spanish weapons.  There was also rebellions from black slaves who also escaped and established Maroon settlements in the mountains.  By the mid-16th century, settlers needed large armed bands to travel through the countryside.

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After 1561 all shipments to Spain left from Cuba and with the settlement of the American mainland, Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti) declined.

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In 1586, Sir Francis Drake captured the city, laid waste to a third of it, and extracted a ransom for its return to Spanish rule.

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In 1605 the authorities forcibly resettled their settlers on the north coast of Hispaniola to be closer to Santo Domingo, enraged by large scale trade with the Dutch who at that time were fighting Spain for their independence.  This proved disastrous.  Half the settlers died of starvation or disease, over 100,000 cattle were lost and many slaves escaped.  It also encouraged the French to establish a presence in the area.

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In 1655, Oliver Cromwell attacked Santo Domingo but was repulsed and successfully occupied Jamaica instead.  However, in 1697, after thirty years of intermittent conflict with French settlers, Spain ceded the western half of the island (now Haiti) to France.

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The situation deteriorated further at the end of the eighteenth century.  What is now the Dominican Republic was ceded to France in 1795, invaded by Britain in 1796, by black slaves in rebellion from Haiti in 1801 and France in 1802.  The Republic of Haiti declared independence in 1804 and invaded in 1806.  The British invaded again in 1809 and the Spanish returned later that year.

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In 1821, following the establishment of a liberal government in Spain, Dominican leaders declared independence but their hold was tenuous and Haiti invaded in 1822.  Hispaniola was then united under Haiti until 1844.

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The Dominican Republic gained independence in 1844 but there were many years of war with Haiti trying to regain control.  In 1861, the economy was so fragile that Spain was invited back to be the colonial master.

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This was a mistake.  Spain proved to be repressive and insensitive and this led to the War of Restoration.  In 1865 Spain left and there was a Dominican Republic again, though most of the cities were in ruins and political organisation was fractured.  Some stability returned during the dictatorship of Ulises Hereaux, for most of the years from 1882 to 1899.  In the six years after he died there were four revolutions and five Presidents.

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The United States, concerned instability might affect their economic interests, invaded and occupied the Dominican Republic from 1916 to 1924..

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Trujillo became dictator from 1933 to 1961, with the support of the US.  He imprisoned and tortured political prisoners here in the Fortaleza Ozama.

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Outside the Fortaleza now, in the streets.

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The end of the Trujillo era was followed by an elected left wing government, a military coup and then a civil war.  The US intervened because the left wing democrats looked like winning.  They invaded and occupied from 1965 to 1966.

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This is the house of Diego Caballero, who moved to Santo Domingo in 1517, when his cousin was mayor.  He later became treasurer and military governor of Hispaniola.  Then he retired from his offices and for a year made a living capturing and enslaving Indians off the Venezuela coast.  Then he made a career as a ship owner, retiring eventually to Seville.

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Since 1965 there has been a succession of democratic governments of varying persuasions, no coups and no invasions.

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This little fellow outside Caballero’s house looks like a gargoyle from a church or a cathedral.  Perhaps from a building damaged by Drake’s cannon balls.

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This is a night-time view of the Monastery of San Franciso, the first monastery built in the Americas, sacked by Drake in 1586 and damaged by earthquakes in 1673 and 1751.  We will return here in a later post.

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