By Derek Osborn
A monthly editorial piece of masterful opinionated writing (insert joke here) regarding life and times in the big town of Tuscaloosa coupled with the musings of a guy nicknamed “Oz.”
Thinking of escaping the cold winter months by traveling to an exotic locale specializing in fru-fru drinks and men in thongs? Happen to be looking for tips from a native Tuscaloosan who, on average, travels outside of the United States once every ten years or so?
You’re in luck! Your local faux-tourism specialist has got you covered. And for this edition of LoO, my indiscretions are most definitely your gain.
For our 10th anniversary, the missus and I decided to fly off to the tropical paradise of the Dominican Republic. Punta Cana, to be exact.
One of our traditions when traveling to exotic locales is to pick up a local rent-a-wagon and go exploring beyond the safe havens of the resorts and the traditional tourist traps. This is fun and spontaneous but can also be ill advised at times, depending on the “State of the Island” (in all sincerity, you should always check travel advisories for your desired destination).
The following are tips based on the unplanned Dominican adventure we experienced after attempting to, and eventually succeeding, in the rental of the aforementioned wagon.
Know a little of the native tongue: You don't have to go full-fledged Rosetta Stone, but it does help to have some knowledge of common phrases without staring at the Griswold translator handbook while attempting to get directions “to…a…beach.”
Know the exchange rate of the local currency vs. the U.S Dollar: When you stop to fill up and the amount you owe at the pump is 2,088.79, don’t freak out. We’re dealing in pesos, and in the Dominican that equates to about $46.
Notify your credit card company that you will be traveling outside of the U.S.: Because when the gas station runs your credit card and it declines the sale for fear of a fraudulent transaction, things can get really shady fast if you only have $40 in your pocket.
Notify your debit card company that you will be traveling outside of the U.S.: Because when the ATM runs your debit card and your bank declines the request for fear of a fraudulent transaction, things can get out of hand quick if you still only have $40 in your pocket.
Be prepared to drive fast: While there are traffic laws in place, there is very little enforcement, and the local driving culture could be related to that of the Autobahn combined with total disregard of common road signs. Oh, and because we shorted the gas station 272.45 pesos. And because of the security guard wielding a loaded shotgun.
To be fair, we warned our rental car agent and the gas station attendant that we only had $40. Their response? “No comprende.”
I tweet insignificant things @ozborn34.
Derek Osborn is the Executive Director of PRIDE of Tuscaloosa by trade and writer by hobby. He lives in Tuscaloosa with his wife, Lynn, and daughters Savannah and Anica.
Article sponsored by Hudson Poole.
Find them on the web at: http://www.hudsonpoole.com