Dominican-republic Travel Stories, Page 18

Best White Wine in America

One long-term traveler in remission is making the Best White Wine in America, he is Mark Wiltberger one of my best friends. A Traveler in remission from his travel addiction, he has been working at his family’s winery since he put away his travel bags.

He was following my Travel Journal, and then we met up in Delhi, India, then again in Bangkok, Thailand. We have been taking over about the Haiti Earthquake, he is sometimes the voice of reason in my mind, one of my “Smart People,” a person I call friend. (Mark is single, loves women, all beautiful women should write him now.)

The best white wine in the U.S. turns out to be a Gewurztraminer from New York State. Keuka Spring Vineyards' 2008 Gewurztraminer was judged the Best White Wine from hundreds at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the largest competition of American wines in the world.

Sosua, Dominican Republic --- Friday, January 15, 2010
By Andy Graham of
Travel Gear

January 15, 2010 -- Keuka Spring Vineyards' 2008 Gewurztraminer was judged the Best White Wine in the largest competition of American wines in the world. 4,913 American wines were judged by 63 wine experts at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. The Gewurztraminer was chosen from all of the white wines as the Sweepstakes winner.

"We're thrilled about this award," said Mark Wiltberger, winemaker at Keuka Spring Vineyards. "When you think about the fact that this competition judged outstanding Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Gris from across the country, it's extremely gratifying to be recognized."

"Gewurztraminer is a unique varietal. The 2008 Gewurztraminer has strong, bright, tropical fruit character and a hint of spiciness. People are often pleasantly surprised when they try it for the first time. In the Finger Lakes we have the perfect climate for these fresh, lively wines," Wiltberger said.

Keuka Spring Vineyards has been making premium wine in the Finger Lakes region in New York State for 25 years. The region is gaining international recognition for its fine wines and beautiful setting.

Keuka Spring Vineyards is located at 243 State Route 54, East Lake Road, Penn Yan, NY. The Wiltberger family celebrates the 25th anniversary of making award-winning wines this year. For further information on the 2008 Gewurztraminer and other award-winning wines visit or call +1-(315) 536-3147.


Mark and I have many conversations, he used to work as programmer, he helps me to understand, and plan the future of this Travel site. He is one of my trusted Smart People.

Best White Wine in America

Haiti Faces Are Dead

Should I Return to Haiti?

A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows the public opinion.
- Anonymous Chinese proverb.

This assumes we know public opinion, and have the capacity to care. I cannot relate to Twitter or Facebook, these sites assume, and thrive on the assumption we need the approval of the group. Their business model ask the question, do you like my face. I know real faces, and I like them.

I am 10-15 hours away from Port-au-Prince; I have been inundated with emails asking the question,
“Are you going back?”

1-50 Ratio
My self-talk is annoying loud, for each time you ask, I ask myself 50 times. I just woke up, thinking to myself, drilling this question in my mind,
“Should I go back?”

Sosua, Dominican Republic --- Thursday, January 14, 2010
By Andy Graham of
Travel Gear

I remember sitting in an internet café in Arbil, Iraq, I asked the same question, in a different time, and a different moment.
“Why should I go to Bagdad?”
I was getting weak, not sure of my motivations, in this time the internet was 10 times more personal. People were not jaded, they tried to help more, I ask my readers, and I received maybe 50 replies in one day.

One man from Spain said,
“Someone needs to go witness.”
This word witness made up my mind, I went to Baghdad and towards the end of the story, I was there, and did this…

Responsible Travel
This is one of the Travel Insiders buzzwords, a phrase that guidebooks use to endear their company to you, the readers to sell books. When they couple it up with the word Ecotourism, I get annoyed. I think to myself, if you want to be an Eco Tourist, then stay home. The whole reason for Eco-tourism was to offer an alternative to destructive behavior of locals.

Example: The local earns money as a guide, he can feed is family with this money, and does not need to eat a Hippo.

A great idea that has gone astray.

Responsible Travel is Personal
Invariably when a tour is formed, there is a hotel built, when a group is formed, it become more irresponsible than responsible.

Ahimsa applied to Haiti
Sanskrit: First do no harm, this is my guide, this is my decision making, but truly no decision is a yes, or a no, they are all maybe. There is the good balancing argument, can I make a difference that will help more people, than the percentage I harm.
Ahimsa on

Serenity Prayer Fails Me

“God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things that I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference. “

I think I should try to save life, even when I should accept it is not possible.

We Can Save the World
Travel destroys illusions; there is an Americanism, the delusional belief that the United States of the America can change the world. Right now, in the USA, there is a person who wants to go help the Haitian people. Somehow, this lone person believes an American can do the work better than a Haitian can. This is good intentions, however, I am a Professional Traveler, and I know what I am capable of doing in Haiti.

“I can lift rocks.”

That would be my highest and best use for Andy Graham of after I arrived in Port-au-Prince. However, the truth is, I would need some Haitian person to help me; I would be a burden to the system, one more body in country full of people with nothing to do.

I could Guide Doctors into Haiti
A doctor does not need to speak Creole to do his or her job. It is possible for me to help people enter Haiti very quickly, but time is burning, we have less than 24 hours, maybe 48, the problem is going to find a solution. The people will die; time will demand this to happen.

Selling Controversy
Contrary to many opinions, I know myself. I do not want controversy; I kill many a comment on the Travel Journal that is too controversial. Controversy makes money, it sells, it by nature is gossip, look at Michael Moore, he has never done anything, and he makes his living by talking about people who do something.

I am controversial because I am honest, honesty is controversial, lies make sense.

Therefore, can I do something in Haiti, even if I wait a week, then return, it would only be giving you a voyeuristic moment. Trust me, I will not go searching for dead people to photograph, I do not want you to see this. I do not take the worst photos, you are my friends, and you do not need to know too clearly.

I want to know if she will smile again as she fills buckets with water. I want to know if the little girl who lives next to me is alive, I want to know if Ronny is alive or dead. I want to know if real people, with real faces, that live my memories still exist. This is selfish; it is me wanting to relieve the pressure.

Giving Hope is Cruel
A responsible travel does not allow locals to have false hope. People appear to have good intentions; they want to be seen as good people. They raise money, they make jobs, and they pull the dreams, hopes, and jobs away when they leave. Saving a life is good; giving false home, with no follow through is cruel.

Temporary Solutions
I do hope you realize, this is my diary, I am not sure what to do. This is a real, I have the ability to do anything I want, I am not afraid of Haiti. If you really read the above explanation of the 15 hours of travel time with a critical mind, you are truly closer than I am. It is all about money, do you have the money to go to Haiti. I know the majority of you feel more empowered than me; you do not have to travel as Hobo because you are richer. If this is true, you can fly to Port-au-Prince, or Santo Domingo easier than I can, I must do seat time. I would guess the rooms are going for 200-300 dollars; I would need to sleep in a tent. I would not take a room, these are for Doctors, and I am just a body.

Funnel Money to Real People
If I had enough money, I could funnel money directly to one family at a time, no intermediary, direct donations. What a horrible dilemma, can I give money to one person, and give temporary relief. The money they need to relocate to a new home.

Yahoo Chat
Artic Para just got me on chat, saying

Artic Para: Are you ok?
ME: I am not so happy
ME: I know my unknown friends are dead
ME: face are dead
ME: faces
Artic Para: yes it's crap ain't it but don't you go getting survivor guilt my friend
ME: hmm
ME: Survivors Guilt
ME: Guilt
Artic Para: as it is so shall it be
ME: I would suspect you understand this more than me

Artic Para: Maybe a little damaged, a former Vietnam Veteran, someone who gave for me, in my stead. Unable to live in the USA for many reasons, this is another story you do not want to understand up close and personal.

Jasmine and Greg from the orphanage helped Roadie, a malnutrition damaged child. I only needed to see the one starfish, by the name or Roadie to know, that was enough. There is a huge difference between the saving of one life, and the delusional ideas of taking one orphan of the street. Saving a life is good, it is a change made, I approve of saving dying babies, and I am not so excited about giving orphans hopeful homes, which may not be their forever.
--- She got me with the Starfish story…

I am American
Today, the USA sends American Soldiers to do good.

From the Halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli
We fight our country's battles
In the air, on land, and sea.
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.

Because I am an American, Haiti is my battle, no more, no less, and never simple. I have Roadies face imprinted on mind; sometimes it sucks to be an American.
Haiti Orphanage Photos

The people that surrounded all the faces I know, do not answer the phone. I test the phone numbers every hour or two, they do not answer.

Truly you should not debate what I will do --- you should be debating if you should be doing something, as a traveler, I will say, stay the course.

Haiti Faces Are Dead

Port-au-Prince Earthquake Logistical Help

I am 144 miles away from Port-au-Prince; I am one of the few native English-speaking people who is extremely knowledgeable of this immediate area in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I am volunteering help with logistical problems of living in the Earthquake devastation area. I lived in the middle of Port-au-Prince on Rue Lamarre for three weeks. I know all the ins and outs of the area because I was one of the few foreigners willing to walk around brazenly in this area. I can explain in English how to help these Creole-speaking people, this is a difficult area.

The United Nations Military has about 15-20 bases in this country; they are best organized to provide immediate humanitarian help removing rubble to discover bodies.

This earthquake is personal to me, I know many people in this area.

Contact Andy

hoboontheroad AT

USA Doctors can write me, leave a telephone number, and I will call back immediately. I have 24-hour access to Internet here in Sosua, Dominican Republic. I am on and can easily return the call; I am prepared to answer questions.

Not my First Earthquake
I was on the ground in Indonesia within a week of an earthquake, I remember, the Doctors were leaving as I was entering. Within one week, the majority of problems were solved, after this time, it is too late.

June 2, 2006 - Bantul and Yogyakarta, Indonesia Earthquake Photos

Surgeons need to fly instantly to Haiti, 90 percent of the people will die in the next 24 hours. The buildings fall, the serious injured die quickly, an earthquake is a sudden, quick, and trauma event, whereby the worst problems occur in two days. Either you survive, or you die quickly, there is a week of severe calamity after an earthquake, then people will deal with the destroyed building.

I recommend all non-medical staff to stay off the planes for the next 3 days, they need doctors, and they do not need a clutter of humanitarian workers with no skills. Port-au-Prince (PAP) is the main airport; Surgeons can easily fly into Santo Domingo, DR and take a bus to Port-au-Prince about four hours away. If you do not speak French or Creole, you can be a burden to the system, there is plenty of labor in this country, a fat American is not needed.

Sosua, Dominican Republic --- Tuesday, January 12, 2010
By Andy Graham of
Travel Gear

A School in Port-au-Prince, as you can see, they are 2-4 stories, there were three of these large School on Rue Lamarre, my home for three weeks.

Friends are Dead
I am sure my Haitian friends of died yesterday; I just left the center of the Port-au-Prince Earthquake area. The Hotel Executif I lived in was four stories, perched on the side of hill, the top to stories were only half completed. However more tragic, there were four three-four story schools on my street.

These two children lived in a house to the right of the five story Hotel where I stayed on Rue Lamarre, this is horrible.

Name of my Friends

This is the Presidential Palace that CNN keep referring to on the television news.

Is my friend dead?

I must have taken 20 photos of this young girl; she lived next to my half-completed Hotel Executif on Rue Lamarre. They stopped work on the building a few years ago because of the violence in this area, it is about two blocks from the Presidential Palace, or the Champs de Mar.

The Hotel is perched to all on her family, the old grandmother, the mother, her sister, I know this family, and this is personal.

Is Ronny still alive, the manager of the four-story hotel I lived in for three weeks? Port-au-Prince is a city of half-finished concrete buildings, all of which are half-way up a hill, the city has few flat spots, and this is truly a horrible place for an Earthquake.

I am in a quandary, I keep asking myself,
“Can I do anything? I could be back in this city today; I am just a body, no special Earthquake skills, just another burden on the Haiti bureaucracy, just another person to live in a Hotel that needs Doctors.

When an earthquake clears the number 7, you need to pay attention, this is when the ground cracks. This is when water lines, gas, etc break, I am not sure, maybe this Earthquake crack the earth.

My Digicel Cellphone from Haiti still works here in DR, I will try to call Onida who live on Del Mar Street in Port-au-Prince. This is not good, and she could be dead. My friend Guy and Onida were going to Port-au-Prince as I was traveling from Mirebalais towards Dominican Republic. All roads lead to Port-au-Prince in Haiti, urbanization in Haiti is the social problem, and there are too many people concentrated in this city that sits below the surrounding hills.

My friends from the Orphanage would probably be ok, however everything depends on the question, did the building fall down on their heads.

Red Cross, maybe UNICEF, or C.A.R.E, all the other organizations are truly ineffective. I would recommend the Catholic Church, all the others will line up to collect money, Earthquakes need large oganizations, not just small NGO's with their hands out.

United Nations Military
Haiti is an occupied country; I complained often about the UN Soldiers, I can hear myself. I am relieved they are their now. When I was on the ground in Indonesia after a large Earthquake, the Indonesia Military did the bulk of the work. Contrary to any illusions, you have of helping people, only the Military or Doctors can get much work done.

If you do not speak Creole, or perfect French, you would just be a burden. I am sure all the Non Governmental Organizations will be calling for money. At best, all they can provide is housing for people, and generally, there were almost zero NGO’s close to Port-au-Prince. Generally, NGO groups do not live in the middle of complicated areas; they tend to find the nicer places. Leogane was the location of the Orphanage; it is about 25 miles outside the area, not in the middle where I was living.

It is a happy thought to know how many United Nations Soldiers are in this country; they can mobilize and have 1000’s of Soldiers into this city within hours. They can help lift the rubble off people who are still alive.

Port-au-Prince Earthquake Logistical Help

Earthquakes Dominican Republic and Haiti

Roughly 6:10 pm in the city of Sosua, Dominican Republic we experienced as floating sensation, as if the top layer of the earth was sliding back and forth. Normally, the small quakes I experienced are more like rumbles; this was as if the ground beneath my feet was sliding.

Sosua, Dominican Republic --- Tuesday, January 12, 2010
By Andy Graham of
Travel Gear

I ran out of my concrete room and looked back at the building, it was disconcerting, as if Freddy the owner and other people walking around did not notice.

People are sending question, and answers, it must have hit close to Port-au-Prince and somewhere between 7.0 and 7.3. As best I understand, after about 7.0, it can break the roads, or cracks can appear in the ground. Lower than this and weaker building can fall, but much worst when the ground cracks, as water lines, gas line and other infrastructure problems occur.

It is possible, that waves from a Tsunami were hitting the shore, and literally pushing the top layer of the mantle around. It has rained for two days, it is cold, wet, and not the time to go walking around exploring. If it was bad; it would also be horrible here, because everyone is hiding in building staying out of the rain.

As normal, the people outside the country know better than me inside.

Earthquakes Dominican Republic and Haiti

Travel Writers Paid 15 Dollars per Article 2010

So you want to be a Travel Writer, an Artist, maybe a Musician, my nephews wants to be work on Movies. They are out in California trying to make a go of it. My friend Chris Johns from Cebu, says he is in Hollywood producing a movie.

Los Angeles Times Article

I sure hope that link works, if not, somebody cover my back and do a paste. The articles name is “Freelance Writing’s Unfortunate New Model.” (My new Smartphone Model for Blogging still has some kinks, copying and pasting links is problematic.)

Sosua, Dominican Republic --- Tuesday, January 12, 2010
By Andy Graham of
Travel Gear

True Believers
I call Writers, Artists, Dancers, Musicians, and any of the Artsy group, the happy people, the “True Believers.” A group of people who have the faith, they believe they are special, they believe they will make it against all odds.

Making Money is Over Valued
Everyone I know on planet earth works, and eats, you will not be able to avoid work. I want my nephews to dream, I want them to chase the dream, but I also want them to never quit, staying the course. As their Uncle I do my best to discourage them, tell them the facts, prepare them for the real world, and help if possible. Eventually, they will have a stable job, or they will be pitched aside after someone bleeds them dry of all their energy. They will do what they want to do, this is good.

The Money Model
You will work for nothing, almost free, and eventually you will make it, or NOT.

Secret to Success
Start your own company, work for three years for no money, eight hours per day, then after four years you will make money. Or, you will need to give up and accept, you are not going to make it, and become a teacher.

Teach How to Succeed
This is the end game, this is what people who cannot make do, and they go teach.

Follow Proven Success
Truly is easy to succeed, find a person or company that is a proven success. Then copy everything for about two years, then split away and do it better. Or better yet, work for the
Companies until you know how to steal all their ideas, and then split away.

I think I am looking for writers and photographers. I have a muse, an idea, as for now it has never comes to past. I think to myself, I will allow people to come travel with me for a month. This person would have the ability to bleed me dry, to quickly figure out my methods.

Problem with this Model
The true believers normally believe from day one they can do it better than the Pros, it takes them three years of going broke, before they learn to listen. The great part, everyone ends up at the same place, just a different path.

The road less traveled is a lot more interesting than a well-worn path.

Travel Website Model
Do not write, digest a lot of writings by wanna be travel writers, do not pay them, just make money from their talent. Promise them, you will be rich and famous, this is the model.

Travel Writers Paid 15 Dollars per Article 2010

Arrived in Sosua Dominican Republic

I left La Vega and took the bus directly to Sosua, Dominican Republic with stops in Santiago and Puerto Plata. Truly, this modern country is a breath of fresh air for a world traveler. This beach area appears to be a place where end-of-the-roaders come to retire.

This map shows my route, these beaches are is incredibly convenient, a person can fly into Puerto Plata and be in the hotel within an hour or two.

Sosua = Soh Soo Ah

Sosua, Dominican Republic --- Tuesday, January 12, 2010
By Andy Graham of
Travel Gear

There are many beach areas for Expats, however few of them really have beaches worth bothering about, and they are more about shopping. I am excited; this area is truly known for surfing, the pivotal sign of good beaches.

I found and Expat Table at a place called Rockys, a restaurant where people who live or are staying long-term come to hang out. Many people, mostly men, rent apartments for months. Most appear to be Canadians or Germans; however, the whole world is here.

I rented a proper apartment for 285 dollars for 30 days, truly a good deal. Sosua, Dominican Republic is truly a home away from home city. This room serves up a Cable TV with all the biggest movie channels; I have a kitchen, full size fridge, and table, everything I could ever want for 10 dollars per day

The quality of the Expats here in Sosua appears to be great; they actually wake up in the morning and go to breakfast. They appear to be a more independent bunch, not in need of girls in tow to feel comfortable with themselves.

Arrived in Sosua Dominican Republic

Map of Santo Domingo Bus Bounce

I left the Hotel at 6:00 am because the bus was to depart from Elias Pinas at 6:45. In typical Latino manner, it pulled out around 8:00 am. I was told it would take four hours, it took 5.5 hours to arrive at Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

La Vega, Dominican Republic --- Sunday, January 10, 2010
By Andy Graham of
Travel Gear

I believe we stopped at 15 police checkpoints, I suppose they wanted to find Haitian people, or collect the 100 pesos the conductor was palming. The bus was extremely overloaded, they have these modern Japanese midsize buses that have no storage for baggage, what a zoo.

I was hoping to make it all the way to Sosua today, Puerto Plata, etc, I thought it highly feasible this was possible I believe it would have been simpler in Haiti. Bigger buses can take hours to load and unload, while hop on and go public transport is quick. The Tap Tap of Haiti did not waste anytime loading and unloading, and you just need to walk to the street and flag one down, there was an overabundance.

Dominican Republic has these modern bus stops, I will not pass judgment, the trip from Santo Domingo to La Vega went without a hitch.

I am in a room for six dollars, so far the price of rooms is about half of Haiti, without a big argument, this is truly a bonus. The Lonely Planet recommended one Hotel in La Vega for 33 USD, and did say there was many love Hotels. I am paying 180 Pesos if the man every gives me the change back from the 200 peso bill.

I truly believed I would make this trip in one day. I would assume the stereotypical view of bus trips in Dominican Republic is the route between Santo Domingo and Santiago, which looks just like an American four lane highway, not a lick of difference. The main stretch of this country is absurdly modern, however behind the wall the culture takes a drop.

Map of Santo Domingo Bus Bounce

Father Mike and Creole Lunch

I ate a typical Haiti - Dominican Republic dish of rice with beans with Father Mike a Catholic Priest in Elias Pinas the other day.

Mike is on the left, and Cal is on the right, they are up to good in Elias Pinas. Mike from Wisconsin the Catholic Father has lived in Elias Pinas, Dominican Republic for 14 years, and regularly shakes hands with all the locals. I was impressed with his balanced philosophy of life. I was happy after not talking with English for about a month, I was happy to find a great conversationalist who was in no hurry to be nowhere fast.

Elias Pinas, Dominican Republic --- Saturday, January 9, 2010
By Andy Graham of
Travel Gear

I saw this rice dish many times in Haiti, however found it difficult to photograph. I suspect I have eaten rice in 87 countries, and I was happy to find the beans in the rice. The beans add an extra flavor, without much seasoning needed. Try it, put some black beans on top of rice, maybe you will find it an easy Hobo lunch. I can cook the rice, and the beans, but carrying around many spices is truly difficult for a traveler.

Mike says, he still will not eat the Chicken Feet, I concur, some customs are best avoided. Thanks for lunch Mike, I was starved for good food and conversation, you satisfied both hungers.

Father Mike and Creole Lunch