Written by Jose Kevo on 21 Nov, 2003
Standing at the intersection, my arm hadn't even reached a full upwardly extended position when no less than four motoconchos came screeching to a near-collision halt at the curb. Passing a moment's worth of judgment over which driver might not only accommodate the safer…Read More
Standing at the intersection, my arm hadn't even reached a full upwardly extended position when no less than four motoconchos came screeching to a near-collision halt at the curb. Passing a moment's worth of judgment over which driver might not only accommodate the safer passage but also be willing to provide more than just a ride, I climbed on behind, held on, and was off at a frenzied pace. To where? Sometimes it just doesn't matter!
Without the motoconcho (motorcycle taxi), Dominican life would all but come to a stand still! Most travel guidebooks warn that these should only be used for transportation as a last resort due to the danger levels of riding helmetless behind what's often perceived as reckless drivers. These advisories are obviously derived from more fact than fiction, but to never risk testing fate by going for a spin is denying yourself part of the Dominican experience.
Call it forbidden fascination! Growing up, my father was a State patrolman. Based on the number of motorcycle accidents he'd encountered, he made sure we knew and had seen all the gory details in hopes of squelching any desires to go for a ride; little alone ever owning one. His methods worked, but neither of us ever counted on my life eventually evolving in DR.
I'll never forget that late afternoon shopping run in La Romana years ago when approaching rains and other circumstances beyond our control prompted Junior to hail us a couple of motoconchos for getting to the publico stop ASAP! He hated these things; even more so after a brother had recently been killed while riding a motorcycle along the open road.
Everything my Dad had ever drilled in my head came rushing back as I apprehensively straddled the seat and began fumbling/shifting packages to free a hand for some means of holding on. No such luck; the driver quickly racing off almost as fast as my lifelong embedded doubts and fears fled to be replaced by an exhilaration that turned fixation. Since the initiation, local friends are somewhat perplexed by my always wanting to ride the motoconchos; something like an excited little kid at the carnival.
In a smaller city like La Romana, using motoconchos is a great introductory environment though I still confess cowardice towards the bustling, chaotic traffic of Santo Domingo. The convenience of getting anywhere around town for RD10 has became more than just transportation or excitement. And if you're brave or adventurous enough, it won't really matter where you go as main and side streets reveal aspects of Dominican life hidden to the majority of travelers. Without jeopardizing your safety holding on, definitely have your camera out; auto-focus is more suitable than manual.
Taking a spin around the southern, central area of town is a great way to begin even if you're already familiar with these areas from walking or passing using public transportation. Make a couple of loops around the beautiful central square plaza, which is the hub of La Romana activity, before heading north along the plaza street, which parallels the old church. This feeds you right into the heart of the lively open-air market where a multitude of smells prevail to accompany the visionary experience.
Navigating further afield through the busy streets in a deep-seated manner, you'll be surrounded by other cyclists out and about perhaps loaded down with three passengers, a mother with her children. Despite close proximity, you can read lips for the random, inaudible greetings but there needs no interpreting of the smiles which warm you quicker than the Caribbean sun.
For the most part, island life is about being laid-back where nothing is hurried. Keep reminding yourself of this when approaching a busy intersection; especially when your traffic light is red! Motoconchos will pass right through the narrow lanes of traffic to cluster in front. An impatient driver revs his engine setting off a concerted fanfare from the others. The light turns green . . . and everyone is off with a vengeance but there's nothing to fear. Within a block, the exhaust fumes have subsided, the cycles have raced ahead and dispersed back to the outside of lanes, and traffic flow resumes to the slower pace - just as your beating heart will, too!
Here's additional tips for helping travelers maximize the motoconcho experience while minimizing risks:
Tell the driver where you want to go and ask, por diez pesos / for 10 pesos? If wanting to go to the baseball stadium, basketball arena, or souvenir-related shop complexes on the western outskirts of town, expect to pay at least RD20 one-way. For the latter, consider offering the driver extra to wait while you shop since motoconchos back into town aren't as frequent.
And no matter what your reason for daring or caring to experience a Dominican motoconcho, be prepared for the ride of your life!
Written by Jose Kevo on 20 May, 2005
One of the country's best public beaches and departure area for water excursions is in the nearby village of Bayahibe. A público ride, departing from La Romana's Avenida Libertad, costs RD35/US$1.15 per person, and a taxi could run as little as US$30. The…Read More
One of the country's best public beaches and departure area for water excursions is in the nearby village of Bayahibe. A público ride, departing from La Romana's Avenida Libertad, costs RD35/US$1.15 per person, and a taxi could run as little as US$30. The one-way ride takes about 30 minutes. If you've got a rental car, head east from La Romana along Highway 3. The Bayahibe turnoff at Highway 815 is clearly marked. Veer to the right and follow signs another 15km to the village waterfront.
Outside La Romana is the gated entry to Casa de Campo. Unless you're a registered guest or have access to an employee's day pass, don't bother trying to get in. When the US-owned Gulf & Western Industries bought the local sugar industry in the 60s, they also purchased all the coastal land between the city and Río Chavón valley. Casa de Campo quickly developed into a hideaway for global rich and famous and still attracts the country's highest concentration of Americans. Miami Cubans now own the complex. What properties lack in palm-laden beaches, facilities make up for with their world-famous Pete Dye-designed golf courses, including a third that opened in 2003.
As of late 2004, Highway 3 was under major expansion trying to accommodate traffic growth. In DR, these projects can get strung-out forever, increasing risks for drivers and passengers. In some sections, half the highway was blocked off, leaving two lanes of traffic to split what remains, including a rutted shoulder. Defensive driving will get you through, but with traffic increases has also come a greater presence of law enforcement randomly pulling over vehicles for spot checks. Make sure to have documentations in order.
The turnoff on the right for Altos de Chavon isn't clearly marked these days, but it's approximately 6km once passing the Casa de Campo entry. You've gone too far at the airport on the left. Since opening in late 2000, rural vistas along this route are gradually succumbing to development as locals and expats try to cash in on tourism.
Just beyond the airport, the highway descends into the Río de Chavón Gorge, which has served as backdrop for numerous Hollywood blockbusters. The lush river valley was destroyed during the 2004 hurricane season when four back-to-back systems culminated with Jeanne stalling as a tropical storm for 48 hours. Chavón drains the southeastern region, and massive flooding was so severe that Highway 3 bridge washed away under 20 feet of water and debris.
For the next 2 months, traffic was severed. Travelers arriving at the airport planning to stay at Bayahibe resorts were left to navigate like the locals. Watercraft that hadn't capsized or washed away now served as water taxis plying the coast and shuttling tourists with luggage between La Romana and Bayahibe. This unplanned adventure lasted until a smaller roadway was completed across the river, while construction of a new bridge proceeded in record time.
Heading into town on December 17, a burst of color accented the valley from Dominican flags lining the new bridge and furling in the gorge's wind tunnel. A stage had been erected, surrounded by chairs and event tents, for a dedication ceremony that would restore traffic flow. However, it will take decades for the river banks to return to an Edenistic appearance.
A word of caution: There are places to pullover on both sides of the bridge, and rarely will you pass without finding locals swimming in the river, especially near the north side's low-level damn. The country has an extremely high rate of deaths from drowning in rivers, so proceed with caution.
Once cresting the gorge still heading east, you'll see signs for the roadside community of El Limón, which is a perfect example of overdevelopment gone bad. Back in the mid-90's, investors constructed a monstrous shopping plaza of stone that housed an overpriced supermarket, a few small shops, and what was supposed to be office space. Business never took off, and today, the complex is an overgrown eyesore. Across from the plaza is a dirt-road intersection with an arrowed-sign pointing towards the small community of Boca de Chavón.
Of all my years exploring this region, I'd yet to make it to this bedroom community of Bayahibe, which is closer by boat than roadway. A few evenings before Christmas, a friend asked if I'd like to catch a ride on back of his motorcycle. Ráfa had always been a trusted comrade of adventures, this night proving no different.
From the Highway 3 turnoff, it's about 14km to Boca de Chavón, which conjures a feeling of being lost, even though heading in the right direction. The Dominican countryside is surreal through these parts, like a tropical Jurassic Park where nonchalant brahmas graze and nomadic goats roam. The dirt road winds its way, like you'll need to do around rutted potholes, with just enough curves to charm anticipation of what awaits beyond. Random farm houses are scattered; every time thinking one was abandoned, someone appeared out of no where with a wave and a smile. At no point were we passed by a vehicle; only other cyclists, horse and burro riders, and pedestrians all with recognizable saludos a "¡Ráfa!"
At the first signs of modern civilization, we pulled over at the communication towers. A roadside guard, positioned in a squalor camp, welcomed us and apologized for just finishing supper with nothing left to offer. The smell of grease from frying chicken over an open fire was tantalizing, dogs and giant chickens tangling over the scattered scraps. Ráfa gave a quick rundown and went back to the conversation while I explored.
North of the road overlooks the Río Chavón valley and the distant cliff-top structures of Altos de Chavón, with the newest Pete Dye golf course just beyond. The views were impressive, even with the scarred riverbanks from recent flooding. There's potential to explore farther along the gorge, provided you're wearing more than shorts and flip-flops.
To the south, the plateau eases into lower-elevated river bottoms, with the small community of Boca de Chavón situated at mouth of the river, as seen in the final Overview photo. The Caribbean shimmering at sunset, with Isla Catalina fading in the distance, outshines the construction cranes and bulldozers of mass development taking place along the Casa del Campo side of the river.
The road eventually becomes the main street in town, with one aspect I couldn't help but notice. Civil engineering at some point had painstakingly constructed curbing and sidewalks on both sides but had never returned to pave the street, unlike in Bayahibe, where streets were paved some years back, but without support curbs, flooding eventually washed away streets. Ráfa pulled over at a clearing that overlooks a small harbor on the Boca side and across to the rock barrier that protects Casa's new international marina.
Numerous buildings are springing up along the Casa boundary, but my attention kept refocusing on the palm-thatched Boca building extending over the water. A young man was waving from the balcony, Ráfa explaining this was a restaurant that survived by shuttling Casa de Campo guests across the river. Later, when putzing around, el muchacho had tracked me down and offered a brochure for the La Casita Ristorante specializing in Italian and International cuisine. I was surprised by the elegance represented in the photos. Unfortunately, they don't have a website, but contact numbers include 809/359-6155 or 809/556-5932. They open at 11 am and again at 6 pm daily.
A few wealthy have invaded to build waterfront mansions secured behind walls, elevated views of the sea in exchange for floodwalls instead of beach. Otherwise, Boca de Chavón is a typical poor but proud Dominican village. I'd been wandering around when Ráfa called me into a backyard for introductions. The height of the afternoon coffee hour was in order, and I couldn't help but notice how everything was so immaculately kept, even the dirt yard swept free of leaves. Saying goodbye, we were detoured twice on the short walk to the motorcycle for more chatting and coffee.
We made a quick zip across the baseball field where local youth were busy indulging Major League dreams. The cluster of shacks behind the field was obviously the poor part of town without utilities and motorcycle paths doubling as roads. We stopped in front of a couple of homes occupied by young women followed by broods of youngsters. Ráfa slipped them both pesos, and whether some of the children were his or as part of the Christmas spirit, I didn't ask.
Shades of dusk were painting the skies as we prepared to make the Highway 815 turnoff for Bayahibe. We'd been chatting it up when Ráfa pulled into an overgrown lane and stopped. He quickly hopped off, looked at me, and spun around while unzipping. I had to laugh before joining him. Call it the consequence of Dominican hospitality.
Parque Central is heart of the downtown area and a recognizable landmark from which to base explorations of the city. Locals flock to the shaded benches concealed by lush vegetation all but shutting out traffic buzzing around the square. Under the gazebo are…Read More
Parque Central is heart of the downtown area and a recognizable landmark from which to base explorations of the city. Locals flock to the shaded benches concealed by lush vegetation all but shutting out traffic buzzing around the square. Under the gazebo are restrooms which tend to be hit-and-miss for availability. As a traveler, you'll attract much attention from shoeshine boys. Either wear comfortable sandals or tennis shoes, or be prepared to repeatedly make or break these childrens' survival efforts; a thorough spit-shine polish costing RD10.
Banks, internet cafes, Casas de Cambios for exchanging currencies, and Codetel telephone can be found in the immediate area, but I've always considered the daily life in general as the genuine feature. Some of the most unsuspecting surprises await inside places like the drug store, supply company or hardware store where business is conducted with nostalgic throw-backs to the 60's. Visions, even smells have served as comforts of childhood with chances to step-back into memories of when life was simple; an appeal La Romana has still managed to retain despite very obvious signs of progress.
Streets south of the center running towards Avenida Libertad are dominated with shops specializing in clothing and shoes. Dominicans especially love dressing-up their small children in lace-frilled dresses and stylish suits for boys; unique purchases beyond souvenir shopping. The area often feels as if it's in a permanent state of sidewalk sale since many stores take advantage of pleasant weather for moving racks of merchandise outdoors. There's no shortage of baseball caps, knock-off designer wear, and even truck loads of second-hand clothing parked curbsides that eagerly get pawed through.
Joyerías, (jewelry stores), have a better selection of amber and lorimar creations than you'll find in most tourist-related outlets. Prices reflect the higher quality, but merchants are often willing to haggle over prices; paying with cash guaranteed to net lower costs than using plastic.
The City's Outdoor Market
Across from the northern side of the park is the city's original Cathedral centralized within a large yard surrounded by a caste-iron fence. It's rather plain and unimpressive, and at no point have I ever found the yard or church open for a quick peek inside. Follow either one of the side-streets to find the outdoor market which is north behind the church.
Regardless of when you arrive, expect to find a frenzy of activities. Vendor boothes line streets and sidewalks surrounding the central block which has a cluster of buildings jammed with commodities. Casual browsing nets immediate attention from tradesmen, and while they'll insist you take a closer look, they'll also smile and take "no" for an answer, unlike high-pressure tactics found in some poorer countries.
There's numerous clothing and shoes available for comparative shopping with what's found in official stores. Similar products at the market will likely cost less depending upon your haggling skills. Initial asking prices are often double of what the vendor hopes to earn, and they enjoy bartering. While most local people encountered will only speak Spanish, vendors have often mastered numerous languages based on survival. Basic Spanish will surely help, but expect an interesting exchange, and don't be afraid to walk away to help seal a better price.
Opportunities for buying local music on downloaded cd's should be bypassed since there's no guarantee of overall quality, even if they've played a couple of songs. There are smaller walk-in booths with tourist-type souvenirs that are rather generic in mass production. A shopper is likely to find more original purchases among the house wares and things Dominicans consider everyday standards.
Foods dominate choices in the typical outdoor market environment that always manages to stir concerns of sanitary practices. Filth and waste are rudely alarming, especially along meat counters where processing takes place and flies swarm carcasses. Regardless of cringing, realize how everyone appears healthy and happy from consuming such questionable products on a regular basis. A bag of inexpensive mangoes, grapes, or bananas from the mountains of produce are great for snacking without fear of bacterial illnesses.
The largest building of the market contains a curious assortment of spices, herbs, and dry goods as well as botánicas selling items used for Santería worship. This area is also where you'd look if wanting to take home an authentic bottle of Mama Juana. Most of what's sold in tourist traps is priced higher and contains fewer ingredients. These bottles are loaded for the locals, and prices vary with size. If you know what to ask for, they specifically make blends upon request, including favorites that contain dried seafood and have legendary potencies. The 1.75-liter I requested cost RD300/US$10 with only the dry goods, but will last as long as I keep adding rum, red wine, and honey.
A Lunch Favorite
Located off the northeastern corner of the central plaza on the north side of Calle Eugenio Miranda, Trigo de Oro Café is an unsuspecting find. The French-run bistro and bakery is housed in a renovated two-story house concealed behind a wall. Awnings and a jungle-like canopy shade the entire yard, which contains the main dining area. The upscale ambience seems out of place, but prices don't reflect poshness. Inexpensive baguette sandwich baskets run less than US$5, the pastry cases and specialty coffees definitely worth saving room for.
The New Shopping Circuit
When leaving Trigo de Oro, heading left/east runs you into Calle Francisco de Castillo Márquez. Take a right on this street if you still want to shop. I was shocked by the number of wall-to-wall tourist-related stores that have opened within the last year. Most contain the same assortments of junk found everywhere with comparable prices, but if looking for unique treasures from the Dominican Republic, be sure and take a peruse through Corazón Latino located at No. 52.
Their selection of artwork, sculptures, and trinkets qualify as home decor and were certainly worth minimal splurges in price. They add a 5% service charge for using credit cards, and don't be surprised if the clerk needs help running the processing machine.
Continuing south will intersect back on Avenida Libertad at the corner of Jumbo Department Store's complex, where you'll need to check all bags upon entry. American Airlines has a new location in front and next door is an outlet selling more junk, but the best buys are in the store.
The Music Department has local percussion instruments and a section labeled Versión Economica, factory seconds of Latin music cd's sold only in the Dominican Republic for RD85/US$2.85. You'll need to pay for anything within this area before leaving. Perhaps you'll find other good buys within clothing and house wares, but my most-requested souvenirs are in grocery stores.
A 1-pound bag of Dominican coffee costs under US$2. Just across from the bread aisle is a section you'd never know to look for, but it's stocked with mouthwatering sweets, including Jalao, 16 coconut and molasses balls for US$1.65,Dulce Leche, various forms of sweet milk candy with a fudge texture in one-pound bricks, some containing fruit for US$1.30, and packages of tropical pastes, great for making side-dish sauces, for US$1.34. There's also a well-stocked liquor section with local and international spirits priced as cheap as duty-free shops. A recommended favorite is Ponche Crema de Oro, excellent rum cream for US$4 a liter.
The Deli is my other favorite place to eat, with an endless selection of creolle cuisine sold by the pound. There's an upstairs dining area great for people-watching and absorbing the brisk air-conditioning. At any of Jumbo's check-out counters, credit cards or US dollars are readily accepted, and change is returned in pesos based on daily exchange rates.
There's a taxi stand in the parking lot with rates posted, or there are other transportation connections along Avenida Libertad. Depending on the amount of purchases, tip the bag boy, especially if they've helped carry things outside. If you've driven with your own transportation, there is no parking fee, but questionable lot monitors also expect a tip for watching your car.
Top of the photo is south
Getting to Parque Central is an easy walk or taxi ride from the cruise-ship port. If arriving by público from Bayahibe, the van makes numerous stops and eventually passes through downtown. For public transportation transfers to other destinations, a shuttle bus leaves from the park's northwest corner for the main terminal west of town. From there, local and express buses frequently depart for anywhere between La Romana and Santo Domingo. The small terminal for east-bound destinations connecting through Higuey is on the right side of the central street, which heads north from the square.
Written by Jose Kevo on 14 Mar, 2002
If coming from Bayahibe by publico, you'll ride across the bridge spanning the Rio Salado onto the bustling 4-lane Ave. Libertad. You'll need to immediately visually locate the long, narrow parking lot-type passageway which runs parallel to the left/south of here. It's where…Read More
If coming from Bayahibe by publico, you'll ride across the bridge spanning the Rio Salado onto the bustling 4-lane Ave. Libertad. You'll need to immediately visually locate the long, narrow parking lot-type passageway which runs parallel to the left/south of here. It's where the publicos wait for departing back to Bayahibe. A one-way ride either way is 20-pesos.
The publicos make several stops into town, though I suggest staying on until it arrives at Parque Central which is the focal point of the city. The Codetel office is located on the eastern side of the square as are three smaller bank branches which can serve you without the wait...unlike always crowded Banco Popular which is located south on the street on which you'll enter the square.
For transportation transfers on to larger regional gua-guas and private lines, the station for buses headed to Higuey and San Rafael de Yuma/Boca de Yuma is on the street heading north out of the center and located across from the east side of the church. Buses heading west for San Pedro de Macoris, Juan Dolio, Boca Chica and Santo Domingo depart from a station off the northwest intersection of the square.
If you need to purchase anything not found in the local colmado, there are two megastores equivalent to our Wal Mart Supercenters. Directly behind the church is the open-air city market and one block north of there is a tall pastel-orange building which contains ORENSES Department Store. An even larger selection can be found at IBERIA - a pleasant walk through the city two blocks west from Orenses and then three blocks left/north along Calle Francisco Ducoudrey. Both stores readily accept major credit cards. Be advised they check all bags...and while I never had anything missing, you might consider leaving any valuables that won't fit into pockets back at your hotel and to carry your camera.
One block north of Iberia where the street is the large public hospital center, though unless dire emergency, you'd be wise to seek out a private physician.
If not walking, taxis are everywhere; motorconchos even more abundant. Anywhere on a motoconcho in the city cost RD10 when with local friends, RD20 when a tourist by myself. Might I suggest for motoconchos you at least wait until you can flag down an older, more experienced driver to minimize risk.
*For maps, Lonely Planet's DR Guidebook has about the most detailed one for the city.
Written by Jose Kevo on 09 Mar, 2002
Gone are the days of landing on the all-but concrete cowpath that split Casa de Campo''s golf course before being processed through an open-air, make-shift terminal. A new International Airport opened January, 2001 as signs of the times feeding the area''s booming tourist industry…Read More
Gone are the days of landing on the all-but concrete cowpath that split Casa de Campo''s golf course before being processed through an open-air, make-shift terminal. A new International Airport opened January, 2001 as signs of the times feeding the area''s booming tourist industry as quickly as the overbooked planes can land! The new facility is located along Highway 3 halfway between La Romana/Casa de Campo and Bayahibe''s resorts making it about a 15-minute ride either direction.
The new airport has a large, enclosed processing area when arriving where you''ll purchase and fill out your mandatory $10 tourist card. Thankfully, its air-conditioned as the speed/efficiency of clearing customs has not improved! Luggage is lined and waiting in a grand hall before exiting the terminal. Perhaps the biggest new bonus is there''s a Currency Exchange Center located seperately outside in the front of the terminal so there''s no need for independent travelers to make the peso run into La Romana as in the old days.
A spacious, open-air check-in are for departures is now available with plenty of seating outside or air-conditioned inside once you''ve cleared security and customs. Concession vendors are located both inside and out as well as a large Duty Free Shop beyond the security checkpoint.
*Mandatory departure tax, now accepted in Pesos or your country''s currency, was $11.
American Airlnes is till the only States'' carrier serving La Romana-LRM with daily flight connections through Miami-MIA, San Juan-SJU, or Regan-DCA. I still highly advise calling to reconfirm you flight within 24 hours of departure so TAKE NOTE - I''ve AGAIN called AA to let them know their printed contact number of 200-1122 for La Romana/Puerto Plata airports is STILL not a working number, nor has it ever been when calling from Bayahibe. Use the number listed inside your ticket envelope for contacting bilingual agents in Santo Domingo.
Resort tourist are picked up by bus/vans. Otherwise, there''s no publico/gua-guas, so independent travelers take private cabs which can be rather expensive unless you''re willing to haggle...which I wasn''t in just wanting to get home paying $30/RD500; the same I''ve paid for the older, farther away airport. Make certain they understand you want to go to "el centro de Bayahibe pueblo".
When returning to the airport, make arrangements in the village center. They''ll send a publico to where you''re staying to pick you and your bags up for RD200. Remember this so it can be your bottom-line haggling point when catching that private cab when you arrive. This is also where speaking confident Spanish CAN make a difference.
Written by Brit in the US on 24 Jul, 2001
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…Read More
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.