The Real Dominican Republic
When people hear Dominican Republic, they immediately think of Punta Cana, the Mecca of all-inclusive binge drinking and gluttony. This breaks my heart every single time. I have had a love affair with the Dominican Republic for years going back to when I first stumbled upon a mountain top property in Las Terrenas listed online. My fascination with the Caribbean country that shares an island with Haiti was ignited! In 2012, I finally traveled to that mountain top property, and my love for the country grew stronger. I was surrounded by beaches, mountains, jungles, and a very kind community. Even before leaving, I vowed to return. The Dominican Republic had captured my soul and my entire being.
From that first trip to whenever I return, I immediately feel an energy surging through my body upon arrival. Maybe it’s the warm weather mixed with the fresh air and the excitement of being immersed into the country’s natural beauty.
When in the Dominican Republic I feel inspired, I feel alive. Sitting behind a computer is nearly impossible. Sitting with a cup of Dominican coffee on a balcony overlooking the ocean is desirable. Days are spent walking the beaches, strolling through town, giggling with the locals as we try to charade our way through a conversation. Bachata music can be heard echoing through the mountains and shopkeepers seen dancing the Meringue whenever the mood strikes.
Dining takes place at plastic tables set on the sand with fishermen’s boats moored to the beach mere steps away as you devour their catch of the day cooked in fresh coconut milk and washed down with a bottle of Presidente. Venture to a fruit stand to discover Avocados the size of your hand or even your head. For spare change a man will take his machete to a coconut and pop in a straw for a taste of the creamy and delicate milk. The words ‘local’, ‘free range’, or ‘organic’ are rarely seen since there is no need to separate the good from the bad. And, McDonald’s who?
Adventure is always only footsteps in any direction. The country is a natural playground for us humans. The most obvious are the beaches that each carry a personality of their own. There are beaches for kite surfers, for board surfers, for sipping Mojitos on loungers, for untouched beauty, and for simple gratitude. A swim in the ocean purifies the soul as only the sea and its healing salts can.
Going inland, you’ll find a country dotted with mountains. The Dominican Republic is home to 4 of the 5 highest peaks in the Caribbean creating diverse geographical landscapes and cultures. Rivers that carve through the Cordilleras form a natural water park for leaping off waterfalls, sliding down limestone chutes and rappelling rock faces. All of this happens while shaded underneath the rain forest’s canopy.
The people of the Dominican Republic are incredibly hospitable and genuinely caring. I giggle when remembering the many interactions I’ve had with the locals. There was the woman who taught me the word ‘peligro’ my very first day in the Dominican Republic when she saw me venturing toward a crumbling stairwell. In Las Terrenas, I was picked up by the police. Not because I was up to no good, but he found me walking on the side of the road and offered me a ride into town. My favorite was when I dipped into a ‘Lingerie’ shop to buy nude underwear for the white dress I had purchased. She spoke only Spanish, so the charade that ensued had us both laughing.
This is the real Dominican Republic. The country I so dearly love. A slice of paradise that whisks you away from the concrete, hustle and bustle of life in the States. You can’t help but enjoy the slow life because it’s so deeply entwined in the Dominican culture. You’ll quickly learn about the Dominican 5 minutes, then learn to appreciate it.
The DR is a country that is raw, it’s genuine. There is a sense of community where all are welcome. There exists an adventurer’s paradise beyond the gated resorts of Punta Cana just begging to be explored. With the enchantment of its natural beauty, the Dominican Republic will quickly leave its long lasting mark on you as well.
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