A short distance up a hill southeast from the Super Pola food market in the town of Sosúa located on Hispañola’s storied and postcard-picturesque northern coast you’ll find George’s Oasis Bar – a place where his sign so aptly declares: “local people meet.”
Catty-cornered adjacent to our newfound home in the Trade Winds apartments and on the ground floor of the Casa Mañana apartments George’s Oasis Bar is a small, unassuming open-air, sunlit, casual easy-going venue. A locale which feels much less like an impersonal bar and more like your best friend’s patio or covered porch – if that patio or porch was in the Heart of the Caribbean on an island where the air still rings with a vague, distant threat of hurricanes and is alive with ghosts of infamous pirates and shipwrecks.
As any experienced drinker worth their weight in top-shelf sauce knows; it is in just such a bar one meets the most interesting if not entertaining people. George’s Oasis Bar features a solidly sordid and enticing cross-section and collection of, as a sign behind the bar proclaims; “schemers, dreamers, losers, boozers, misfits, and all assorted fleeing felons.” All of whom not only compose its clientele but are also entirely welcome here – so long as they can handle their alcohol and pay their tabs.
From former truck-driving hooligans of the far-off frozen north to guitar-strummin’ tropical golf cart suicide jockeys in the Heart of the Caribbean.
There is Ed the Canadian truck-driver, who with his sweet, fun-loving, occasionally dog-stomping (utterly unintentional by the way!) wife Dawn, are the textbook definitions of endearing, welcoming, warm, and gracious. I don’t know how many times Ed has driven the lot of us around town in his island cart, to the beach or an ever-revolving lineup of various restaurants in search of food, fun or adventure. And I’ll tell you with the sort of ultra-creative, thrill-seeking, adrenaline-junkie-like tactics the Dominicans employ when they drive one could do no better than to have a former truck-driver who has driven from Saskatoon to El Paso. Those 4 million road miles over 37 years come in more than handy in a land where traffic signs, turn signals, and driving etiquette of any kind are routinely ignored, and glowing red stop lights are a mere suggestion at intersections! Ed’s wife Dawn truly knows how to appreciate every sunset in its full tranquil sky-painting glory. One gets the sense that bathed in the aureate glow of the beach sunset she’s in the realm of spirits in silent, rapt communication with a particular angel.
Fittingly, owner George Knaskov is one of the most storied and fascinating denizens in his establishment. Born in Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia, his parents walked to Austria in 1944. From there they were relocated to Brazil in 1949 where George spent his formative years, fell in love with his adopted home, and pursued an education in engineering.
For the next 43 years, George worked as a consulting engineer for numerous breweries traveling the world installing breweries as part of the job.
Within a few hours, one gets the impression that nearly every expat in the area, and other bar owners, stop into George’s for ice-cold beers, wines, mixed drinks of various intoxicants blended with conversations about our fair village, local events, other towns, and regions around the island. They talk about the faraway places they called home and the people who still matter to them no matter how distant they may be. There is much discussion of the travels, adventures, mishaps, and misfortunes that defined and made them into the hapless wondrous creatures they now are at this point. Not that they won’t evolve into even more refined and improved versions of themselves – it’s just that I am very content with the versions I have met here in the now at George’s.
We are all brimming with faults and imperfections mirroring the alcoholically-enhanced libations we hoist to our life-baked hearts and parched souls. It’s our faults that most characterize us. Our faults announce most clearly and loudly proclaim who we genuinely are. It is our faults that we can never seem to leave behind no matter how hard we may try. It is our faults that give us eternal purpose in trying to overcome them and develop our characters beyond them.
And that’s the thing; there is a continually rotating cavalcade of bars, restaurants, cafes, grills, colmados (Dominican markets that double as bars), and other similar establishments all throughout the fascinatingly warped and debauched adult wonderland of Sosúa. But there are precious few with the heart, soul, and character of George’s — the bar being an extension of the fascinating man himself.
If you’re just looking for a drink, go anywhere. But if you’re looking for a very local experience with people who will likely become your friends,
George’s Oasis Bar is most definitely the place where local people meet.