La Romana Stories and Tips

Corrupt local police - Warning to tourists

As a result of the baby running out of formula, we had to make an unscheduled trip into the local town (La Romana) for extra supplies. Hiring a car was easy at the resort although allow plenty of time to complete the process as Caribbean time is very slow and not the usual pace we are used to in NY.

La Romana is about 30 minutes drive from the resort along the coast and finding a store was easy once we worked out how to follow the signposts.

Having finished our shopping we headed for Burger King (our one taste of the US) only to be flagged down by a police officer who stood on the side of the road. A manufactured claim of not wearing a seat-belt (had to remove it to open the passenger door for him) warranted the threat of a ticket which would require a trip to the station. Not knowing the area, the officer offered to show me the way to the station and proceeded to guide me. As it happened this was in the opposite direction. We were soon joined by 2 additional officers on a motorcycle and I was told to pull over on the side of the road, (now out of town).

The three proceeded to talk at me in Spanish insisting that I pay a fine now or go to the station. I told them that I would go to the station as I did not have $100 (or 500 pesos) on me at the time. After 30 minutes of talking and having to show them my empty wallet (fortunately I had left most at the resort) they allowed us to leave without any fine or visit.

Although this is apparently a common occurrence on the island it did not engender respect for the locals and would definitely discourage me from returning in the near future.

Warning to future travelers - unless you absolutely need to hire a car you are safer staying at the resort and less likely to be made a victim. The resort had stories of people having their passports taken and having to buy them back for large sums in similar schemes. It would have been nice to know this BEFORE we left the resort for our drive and not when we returned and complained.

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