Friday, April 21, 2006

The 2nd-Choice Game

Josh and I have a theory that in the Dominican Republic it is a tradition to ask for something you don’t want so that you can get what you actually do want. I like to call it the 2nd-Choice Game. Of course, not knowing the rules of the game ahead of time, we spent the whole weekend asking for our 1st-choice only to be told we couldn’t have it. I’m sure the Dominicans thought we were playing the game, too, and were quite happy to have our 2nd-choice. And, in reality, we did discover that “last choice” isn’t always so bad.

Let me give you a few examples. . .

1) When we arrived to the D.R. it was about noon on Good Friday. Being a very devout Catholic nation, we quickly discovered that virtually everything was closed. So we settled in for a nice afternoon in the hotel and planned on attending a jazz concert at a local restaurant (concert, date and time listed in a local weekly tourist guide) later in the evening. At the appropriate time, we hired a taxi and made our way to La Briciola, nestled in the heart of the Colonial Zone. Much to our surprise, the sign on the door read (in Spanish), “Closed for Observance of Good Friday.” So, we settled for the dinner at a local pizza chain (the subject of the next example) down the street. Had we asked to be taken to The Pizzareli first, I have no doubt that we would have ended up at La Briciola.

2) The Pizzareli was hopping when we arrived (probably because it was the only place open in a city of about 2.5 million residents). We got seated at a table and after perusing the menu, decided we wanted two Fantas, an order of breadsticks, and a combination pizza. When the waiter arrived, we placed our order. He quickly informed us that they didn’t have any Fanta, and wanted to know what else we would like. I asked for mineral water (listed on the menu) and Josh asked for Coke (listed on the menu). A few minutes later, the waiter came back and said they didn’t have Coke and they didn’t have mineral water. Being the very bright guy that he is, Josh said, “Well, what do you have??. . . Sprite? Okay, we’ll take two Sprites.” Our Sprites arrived and were delicious. Why didn’t we think of that in the first place!? Oh, and by the way, we never did get those breadsticks!

Note—One reason we suspect this little 2nd-Choice tradition is a national sport the locals play with tourists is this: while we were sipping on our Sprites, we saw several other tables being served Fanta and Coke. Probably their 2nd-choices!

3) One our guided tour of the Colonial City on Saturday, we ended up at another pizza place for lunch (our only choice on the tour). We pointed to the #1 Lunch Special pictured on the poster next to the register—a personal pepperoni and a soft drink. You can guess what happened with the soft drink (see example 2 above). This time, however, the game got even more exciting. When our pizzas arrived, they weren’t pepperoni; they were Canadian bacon. We asked the server why we didn’t pepperoni and he simply said, “Oh, we don’t have any more pepperoni.” I think we would have gotten pepperoni if we had ordered ham instead.

I have at least 5-6 other examples I could cite to document the 2nd-Choice Game, but I’ll spare you. After a while, we agreed that the game was quite fun and really increased the mystery of being a tourist in the Dominican Republic.

No comments: