Dominican Republic – Brash Monk

Amazing Americas

Did you know that breaking out into a round of applause when a plane lands in the Dominican Republic is an enforceable law? If your answer is no, then you’re probably also unaware that Santo Domingo, the capital of the D.R., is the first city of the Americas and where Christopher Columbus landed in 1492 to create the first European settlement and Spain’s first capital across the pond. Here is that story:

Christopher Columbus

As some of us will remember, Columbus left Spain in search of new lands with three ships: the Santa Maria, the Pinta, and the Santa Clara (aka the Niña). After weeks of sailing, Columbus and company finally landed on the island of Hispaniola (what is now split between the Dominican and Haiti) on Dec. 5, 1492.

Things started off friendly between both sides. In classic European style, though, the voyagers first took over using force (once their conquest was resisted by the natives) and later through disease, as smallpox and measles wiped out a great chunk of the Taino population.

As part of the settlement, the Dominican is home to the first cathedral, monastery, castle, and fortress in the Americas. These are all located in Santa Domingo’s Colonial Zone, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Heck, there’s even a Hard Rock Café there!

Once Spain conquered the Aztecs and Incas, they forgot about their holdings in the Caribbean and French pirates (think buccaneers searching for wine and cheese, rather than gold and rum) swooped in to take the neglected land. A series of peace treaties between Spain and France first gave what is now Haiti to the French and later what is now the Dominican Republic.

pirate-cat

As for Columbus, he continued to make voyages between the “New World” and “Old World,” which sounds like some sort of science fiction plot. In 1504, Columbus returned to Spain for good. He died on May 20, 1506, as a result of reactive arthritis, which could have been brought on by anything from food poisoning to sexually transmitted diseases (which one would you rather contract!?). Estimates state he was 54 years old.

And here’s where the explorer’s story takes an interesting twist that has helped his legend endure throughout the Dominican Republic, as well as around the world: both the D.R. and Spain claim to be in possession of Christopher Columbus’ remains. And both have legitimate claims to the relic.

Columbus was first buried in Valladolid, Spain, where he passed away, before being moved to the La Cartuja monastery in Seville, Spain, by request of his son Diego. Columbus had stated that he would like his final resting place to be in the New World, but no monument was grand enough yet for this request. Finally, in 1537, Christopher and Diego’s bones were shipped to Santa Domingo and placed in the cathedral there.

Later, came the aforementioned period of French rule. The Spaniards, fearing what the French would do with Columbus’ remains, moved them to Havana, Cuba. The Spanish-American War of 1898 forced the bones to be moved back to Spain, once again. This time, they were housed at the Cathedral of Seville, amongst an elaborate setting, featuring a tomb and statues.

Celebrating Columbus

In 1877, however, a box inscribed “Don Christopher Columbus” was discovered in the Santa Domingo cathedral, which contained human remains showing signs of advanced arthritis. This led the Dominicans to conclude that either Spain took the wrong remains away all those years ago, or that a bait and switch was pulled and the Spanish were in possession of bones not belonging to Columbus.

For their part, Spain had their Columbus artifacts DNA tested with experts finding that the remains in Seville are likely that of the legendary explorer. The movements of Columbus’ bones are also well-documented through their remarkable journey.

The Dominican Republic has never exhumed their version of Columbus’ remains for DNA testing, perhaps for fear that tourism, which the Caribbean nation heavily relies upon, could take a hit without the Columbus connection.

DNA Test

In the Dominican, Columbus is entombed in the Columbus Lighthouse. While recently visiting the country, Mrs. Sip and I went to this landmark with a tour group, but our guide didn’t allow us enough time to actually go into the site… he was more concerned with yapping on his phone all day and pigging out on the lunch buffet.

The truth on the subject probably lies somewhere in the middle and both countries may be in possession of Columbus remains. I suppose it’s kind of fitting that he may be resting in both worlds.

Dominican Republic: Brash Monk

Brash Monk Cocktail

  • 1 oz Mamajuana
  • 1 oz Frangelico
  • 1 oz Espresso Vodka
  • Top with Milk
  • Garnish with Chocolate Slice

Columbus’ journey to the New World was made into the feature film 1492, which was released 500 years after his voyage across the Atlantic. I’ve never seen the flick and given its 39% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I just can’t see it rocketing to the top of my ‘to view’ list!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Although a strong cocktail, I enjoyed this martini. Frangelico always burns a little harsher than other liquors, but the flavours were all really nice. The drink is supposed to be garnish with a coffee bean, but given I’m anti-coffee, there was none lying around to use. Mrs. Sip didn’t leave me much milk for the recipe, but I made due with what I had… at least she left me any at all!

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Dominican Republic – Hot Mama

Batter Up

While baseball may have been invented in the United States and is the country’s national pastime, our next stop, the Dominican Republic, is the reigning World Baseball Classic champions (sweeping the tournament) and home to some of the greatest players to ply their craft in the major leagues. Here are some facts about the baseball greats that come from the D.R.:

Ozzie Virgil, Sr.

Along with being the first Dominican player to ever suit up in Major League Baseball on September 23, 1956, Virgil was also the first non-white man to play for the Detroit Tigers. After a career as a utility player (being able to fill a variety of field positions) spanning 1956-69, Virgil entered the coaching game for 19 seasons. The Osvaldo Virgil National Airport was opened in 2006, serving Virgil’s hometown of Monte Cristi.

1985 Topps Virgil

Anyone else notice that father and son’s first names are spelled differently!?

Juan Marichal

Marichal is currently the only Dominican player to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He is half of what is known as “The Greatest Game Ever Pitched,” as he compiled a 16-inning complete game shutout. Marichal is also remembered for an incident in which he beat catcher Johnny Roseboro over the head with his bat, causing a bench-clearing brawl. Marichal and Roseboro eventually became good friends, jointly autographing photos of the episode.

Robinson Cano

When the D.R. won the 2013 World Baseball Classic, Cano was named MVP of the tournament. His father also had a brief MLB career and he was named after Jackie Robinson, who broke the colour barrier in baseball in 1947. Known for his charity work, Cano has a pediatric rehabilitation ward named after him at the Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Cano is one of the athletes to enlist rapper Jay-Z as his agent and it paid off with a 10-year, $240 million contract with Seattle.

Pedro Martinez

Martinez was twice denied perfect games (no hits or walks allowed) because of unusual circumstances. In 1995, he was 7⅓ innings deep when he threw a pitch that hit batter Reggie Sanders. The next season, Martinez took a perfect game into extra innings and was hit off in the bottom of the 10th, nullifying his perfect effort. All this, despite being undersized compared to his power pitcher contemporaries. At one time, Martinez signed the richest contract ever given to a pitcher at $75 million over six years.

Pedro Martinez

Can’t forget the time Martinez threw 72-year-old Yankee base coach Don Zimmer to the ground… ah, he had it coming!

Julian Javier

Javier earned the nickname ‘The Phantom’ for his ability to evade runners trying to steal second base. I once tried to steal second base on Mrs. Sip and the results were similar. Showing a hot temper that seems to run through a number of Dominican stars, Javier was once suspended indefinitely for striking an umpire. The penalty was later cut to three days and a fine of $50 (justice served). Given his suspension occurred while playing in the Dominican League and not MLB, this is not entirely surprising.

Francisco Liriano

Liriano is credited with one of baseball’s rarest feats: striking out four batters in one inning… a marvelous feat given a team need only record three outs to end their defensive half of the inning. How it happens, is that when a batter reaches his third strike, if the ball is not caught by the catcher, the batter can then become a runner and reach base, so long as there is no runner already at first and he is not tagged or forced out. Only 67 pitchers have managed the feat over the long history of MLB.

David Ortiz

Big Papi, as he’s affectionately known, is keen on looking after young kids in need. In 2008, he released a charity wine dubbed Vintage Papi, which raised $150,000 for his David Ortiz Children’s Fund. Playing a majority of his career as a designated hitter (ie. not being relied upon to do any fielding) Ortiz holds the all-time record for homers by a DH. His popularity in Boston is off the charts and in 2013, Ortiz finished third in Boston’s mayoral race with 560 write-in votes.

Big Papi - Esther Rolle

For the Good Times fans out there!

Manny Ramírez

Manny Being Manny” was a term used to describe the power hitter’s erratic behavior, including: missing games while suffering from pharyngitis (which just sounds phony), but being spotted in a bar; getting into altercations with his own teammates; disappearing from the field in the middle of a game for a bathroom break; and pushing a 64-year-old traveling secretary when he was unable to fulfill Ramirez’s request for tickets. On the flip side, Ramirez was a clutch slugger and holds the record for most home runs in the playoffs with 29.

Albert Pujols

Try saying his last name without laughing… go ahead, I dare you! Anyway, Pujols (pronounced Poo-Holes… I know, too easy) became an American citizen in 2007, following a perfect score on his citizenship test. Despite this, he has repeatedly tried to aid the people of the D.R. by bringing medical supplies, as well as doctors and dentists to the country to help its poor. His foundation’s annual golf tournament is played to raise money to send dentists to the Dominican.

Albert-Pujols

In case y’all needed proof!

Jose Bautista

The two-time home run champion holds the dubious distinction of being on five different MLB rosters in one season. In 2004, Bautista made his MLB debut with the Baltimore Orioles after being selected in the Rule 5 Draft from the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was then claimed off waivers by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and later purchased by the Kansas City Royals. The Royals traded Bautista to the New York Mets, who sent him back to Pittsburgh in another trade. I hope he never got too cozy.

Sammy Sosa

Sosa is best remembered for his 1998 duel with Mark McGwire, as both men attempted to break the home run record of 61 in a season. Sadly, both Sosa and McGwire have since been tainted by baseball’s steroid era and their achievements that memorable season have been tarnished. Coincidentally, Sosa hit his 600th homerun (one of only five players to do so) off Jason Marquis, who was wearing Sosa’s #21 jersey with the team he had the most success with, the Chicago Cubs.

Dominican Republic: Hot Mama

Hot Mama Drink Recipe

  • Muddle Lemon and Orange Wedges
  • 2 oz Mamajuana
  • Top with Orange Juice
  • Splash of Chili Chocolate Syrup
  • Pinch of Brown Sugar
  • Garnish with an Orange Wedge

The Dominican Republic is second behind only the U.S. for having the most number of players in Major League Baseball. Perhaps one day, they’ll surpass the States in this regard and the Baseball Hall of Fame will have to be more to Santo Domingo or Punta Cana for easier tourist access.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
While this drink was good, the Orange Juice hid most of the ingredients. After the first taste, Mrs. Sip and I agreed to douse the cocktail with some more Mamajuana, as well as Chili Chocolate Syrup. The drink probably gets some bonus points thanks to how beautiful it looks with the orange-red blend of colouring.