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!

December 10 – Snowflaketini

Toying Around

I remember when I was just a little sipper and the annual Christmas catalogues would arrive. It was always fun to flip through this massive book, skipping through the housewares and appliances sections until you landed on the Holy Grail… the toy section. Well, catalogues are out and the internet is in. Toys ‘R’ Us has put together a list of 15 of the most popular toys for Christmas 2013… and I’ve put together a list of my opinions on them!

Crazy Cart

Oh sweet Jesus, we thank you for having been born on this day, so that I might get blitzed and ride on this Crazy Cart with my little buddy, Furious B! This thing looks absolutely amazing. Even the kid riding it knows it’s pretty awesome. What a way for kids to finally get some fresh air. Granted, they won’t really be exercising and you know in due time the Crazy Cart will be banned be some parent advisory committee. Enjoy the ride while it lasts!

Beer and Go-Karts

Sofia the First: Royal Talking Vanity

So, basically we’ll be teaching girls at the earliest of ages to waste everyone’s time as they spend countless hours putting on make-up. This will spawn a whole new generation of frustrated men, pleading with their daughter/sister/girlfriend/wife to wrap things up because they’re already late. I certainly won’t be picking up an item like this for my future little sippers, as Mrs. Sip is bad enough and any progeny she passes her DNA down to will certainly have a built-in lateness gene.

Big Hugs Elmo

How does this character keep getting work!? I long for the day when we hear about Elmo living on the streets, his fortune spent and life ruined. Even after his handler was booted from Sesame Street amid sex allegations, Elmo is still flying high… that stupid coked out Muppet. How can anyone respect a being that’s been three-and-a-half years old since the 1970’s!? The little monster is clearly lying about its age and sending a bad message to youngsters everywhere.

Lego: Legends of Chima – The Lion CHI Temple

I’m so thankful that people still play with Lego. I loved this stuff growing up and spent countless hours building and imagining. I can’t wait for the day when my little sippers are old enough not to choke on the little hazards (all evidence says they’ll have to be 18+… although they’ll hopefully be more intelligent than dear old dad) and I’m able to buy them Lego sets. They might not care much for them, but I’ll at least be able to play with Lego again and have it be somewhat justifiable.

Lego Memories

Doc McStuffins: Deluxe Get Better Check-Up Center

Doc McStuffins??? Seriously!? If that doesn’t say porn star name, I don’t know what does! Heck, the whole thing says fantasy role play. It all starts with a temperature check with a certain thermometer and away we go. They should have rebranded this item and had the 50 Shades of Grey folks endorse it. They’d make more money marketing the item to lonely housewives than they would getting kids to buy in… especially if Oprah lent her name to the product, too!

Tabeo E2 / LeapPad Ultra

Well, it was bound to happen that kids would have their own tablet-like devices… I’m only surprised it took so long. And maybe it didn’t. Don’t know, don’t care. Where was I? My drinker’s brain is acting up again. Anyhoo, now your child can be as neglectful and distracted as some parents are. And then they can participate in distracted tricycling… that is, if they ever leave the house and do any physical activity… hand exercise playing video games doesn’t count.

Drink #344: Snowflaketini

Snowflaketini Drink Recipe

  • Rim glass with Coconut Shavings
  • 1.5 oz Blue Curacao
  • 1 oz Candy Cane Vodka
  • Splash of White Cranberry Juice
  • 1 Lemon Wedge

Which top toys for 2013 have caught your eye? Do you have a story from your own catalogue hunting days? Perhaps you just want to track me down and throw a Big Hugs Elmo at me to release your pent-up anger. It’s all cool… just leave a message after the beep!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This drink looks cool with the Coconut Shavings acting as ice and tastes great. Despite my apprehension towards the Candy Cane Vodka, everything came together really well. Peppermint plays nicely with the Curacao, Cranberry Juice, and Lemon and makes for a very unique cocktail.