Taking a vacation has many benefits.  It helps relieves stress, refreshes your perspective and also helps you bond with your family.

I chose the Dominican Republic (DR) The population is over 10 million, it’s both affordable and beautiful.

I visited a country called Puerto Plata.  I will tell you the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good

  • The people are the best thing about Puerto Plata. They have a strong sense of family that was refreshing to see.

  • The literacy rate is 91%
  • The national sport is baseball.
  • Brugal – drink up some great tasting rum. Visit the rum factory.

  • Cigars – some of the best handmade cigars come from DR.
  • Mamajuana is their national drink. It’s a mixture of honey, red wine, and rum soaking in tree bark and herbs. They say it’s like viagra. 
  • Merengue and bachata is the main type of music. It’s a mixture of West African,Taino and European music. It’s fun to dance to.
  • There are many places to visit and things to do. Such as ziplining, buggies (big Jeep-like vehicles then you ride around town) , horse back riding, dive into waterfalls, dolphin encounters, outback safari, kayaking, snorkeling, jet ski etc…

  • Weather is great. It’s usually 28 Celsius every day. So you can swim in the Caribbean ocean it’s salt water leaves skin feeling soft.

  • Larimar stone is only found in the DR. The people use it to make great jewelry, they say the stone lasts forever. It’s a beautiful blue.  Some say It keeps negative energy away.

  • Amber is formed from trees the DR has the perfect conditions to grow these. This is highly sought by scientists. They also use this in many pieces of jewelry.
  • Nice resorts, plenty to choose from such as Playa Bachata, Senator, Cofresi etc…
  • Massages on the beach at a cost of course
  • Presidente – Is the national beer some people say the taste is similar to Heineken beer.

  • Hospitality – I went off the resort and the people were the same. They were very welcoming they treated me as if I was family. (Only go off the resort if you have a trusted person with you. I also let the front desk know exactly where I was going) When I was leaving to return to Canada I felt the affection.

The Bad

  • Aggressive salespeople on some beaches, it can be overwhelming but I will explain the reason for this in the Ugly section.
  • The water is toxic. You cannot drink straight from the tap.

The Ugly

  • Most Dominicans are poor. The average person makes $200 a month. So they rely heavily on tips to simply survive.

  • Spanish is the official language which most people speak but to get a good job you need to speak German, French or English fluently. (Very sad fact)
  • Prostitution- women selling themselves for money. This is legal but pimping and having a brothel is illegal. The problem is some of these women are very young and it’s a booming industry. I wanted to get a few women to discuss this but there was safety concerns.

  • The people pay no taxes. The government offers no social programs to help people if there are no jobs etc..
  • There is no healthcare some people are literally left to die because they have no access to funds.
  • There is a lot of friction between Haitians and Dominicans.  Please see the links below for the history.
  • They rarely use black faces to promote their resorts because of fear of losing white customers.  The photographers at the resort are usually black but they are not shown. Instead the bottom picture featuring white people is used. I was told marketing is important and the Managers want their customers to feel comfortable visiting the resort.

Carla’s take

Visiting DR was great. Being a tourist your treated like a princess. Especially if you are at an all inclusive resort. Your food and drinks are covered so you are eating lots and drinking many Caribbean blue, pina coldas and strawberry daiquiri.

We as a society have a duty to look deeper at our surroundings even when we are on vacation to see how we can make a difference.

I see the colonialism and racism in the DR.  A group of people forced to live a certain way because the cards are being stacked against them due to European interest.

It’s not easy for the people of the Dominican Republic to travel to another country because of the government rules. Most people especially blacks are forced to be the countries “lower class” forever.

I travel to relax but I also travel to learn.  This was an awesome experience.  I discovered we as a people have a lot of work to do to reject racism worldwide.

Tips

  • Bring lots of tip money (small bills such as $1 US funds) and tip generously if you can afford it.
  • There is a $20 (US funds)fee when entering and departing the country so set that aside.
  • Use the safe in the room to secure your passport, money or other important documents.
  • Treat your room the way you treat your home, don’t be a complete slob.
  • Check the stores at your resort they may offer data for your cellphone at a very affordable rate.
  • If you prefer not to tip, bring lots of gifts to leave for the resort staff such as soaps, toothpaste,toothbrush, calculators,school supplies etc… Visit Dollarama and stock up on some gifts.
  •  Book excursions while you are in the DR, you can get a better rate.
  • Review what’s acceptable on the plane prior to packing your carry-on.
  • take some medication with you just in case you have diarrhea, headache, allgeric reaction or nausea.
  • consider seeing your doctor a week before your trip and see if there is anything you can take to make the trip more comfortable.

Check out these great  documentaries on the Dominican Republic and let me know what you think.

Adios

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