And so we find ourselves in the Dominican Republic and liking it to say the least!
On the northern edge of the Caribbean Sea, the Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola.Â Haiti is to the west, and the island is basically the only thing shared by the two distinct cultures.Â Haitians have French and African roots, speaking a unique Creole language, and Dominicans are of African, Amerindian, and Caucasian descent with a predominantly Hispanic culture.Â
The Dominican Republic is far more developed and affluent than its Haitian neighbors, and enjoys far greater political and social stability as well.Â Depending on who you ask, there are many reasons for this disparity.Â Dominicans have strong opinions regarding Haitians and various stereotypes including work ethic and issues of entitlement, all evidenced by harsh border policies.Â But I think the more valid reason lies with the satellite picture of the border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.Â Itâ€™s clear who has effectively utilized their natural resources, as are the repercussions of not doing just that.
The northern shore of the Dominican Republic is called the â€œAmber Coast,â€ home to the worldâ€™s largest amber deposits.Â About 130 miles northwest of Santo Domingo, Puerto Plata lies at the base of Mount Isabel de Torres which is topped with a smaller version of Rioâ€™s â€œThe Redeemer.â€Â Near the old dock, the fort (Fuerte de San Felipe) marks the beginning of El MalecÃ³n which is an ocean side street and strand with amazing views and tons of restaurants and shops.Â Puerto Plata hosted the windsurfing World Cup in 1988, and for you 80â€™s music buffs, Falco died in Puerto Plata in 1998 (Rock Me Amadeus!!!).
Christopher Columbus landed in, and named,Â Puerto Plata (â€œPort of Silverâ€).Â Impressing Columbus, Puerto Plataâ€™s silver-like appearance is attributed to many different possibilities: a) mist on Mount Isabel de Torres; b) the silver-looking leaves of the native guayaba trees; or, c) the striking color of the water at sunset often likened to the shimmering of a thousand silver coins.Â Puerto Plataâ€™s nickname is â€œLa Novia del Atlanticoâ€ (The Bride of the Atlantic).
In a nutshell, the Dominican Republic is a very beautiful place â€¦ the mountains are lush and tropical, the ocean is Caribbean blue, and the coastline is rocky and picturesque.Â The most beautiful part of the Dominican Republic is the people â€¦ not only are they physically attractive and prideful of appearance, but they are also friendly, genuine, interesting, and just generally good natured.Â You would be hard-pressed to find the sourpuss Dominican.
Itâ€™s been hard work sorting out our boat problems but frankly, weâ€™ve been having a ball here in the D.R.!Â From previous Caribbean experiences, we knew that Presidente is the undisputed King of Beer â€“ and it is absolutely delicious.Â Andy sorted out our Dominican baseball alliances very quickly and provided us with good material for â€œwater coolerâ€ discussions with locals.Â Weâ€™ve had fresh lobster and shrimp every day, and made new friends at our favorite local restaurants, Polanco and Ponderosa del Mar.
A pleasant surprise has been merengueÂ which is the Dominicanâ€™s national music and dance style.Â At the average bar, the bad dancers would be borderline fantastic by American standards.Â Our first day here, we were taken to La Canita, which, at 3:30 on a Wednesday afternoon, was packed with a small crowd of semi-pro dancers, tearing up the dance floor to ear-splitting merengue.Â We loved this place â€“ it truly was one of our favorite bars ever.Â It is, however, by no means unique â€“ there are â€œLa Canitaâ€-type establishments (â€œRancho Tipicosâ€) to be found more frequently than Starbucks in Seattle.Â More Pictures