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Travel And Adventures in the Dominican Republic

Caribbean Sea

Caribbean Sea

My Trips To The Dominican Republic

I made two trips to the Dominican Republic (DR). The first trip was in January, and the weather was lovely after the cold of the United States, plus nature is still in bloom.

I flew into the Santo Domingo Airport, enjoying flying over the beautiful blue, sometimes turquoise, ocean with numerous islands below. Even at 44,000 feet, you could tell that most islands were too small to be inhabited.

I came to visit my son and his family and to see the wonderful sites of the DR. They live in a small town about two hours west of the capital. Santo Domingo is the oldest colonial city in the Americas

adventures-in-the-dominican-republic

On To Azusa

My son picked me up at the airport, and the first shock was the volume of traffic in Santa Domingo. It seemed more chaotic than what I recalled from visiting Mexico City. Two lanes didn’t mean a thing to the Dominican people.

Often three vehicles with a few motorcycles thrown in was the norm for a double-lane road. My son’s explanation was:

"The Dominican people have their own system of driving, which seems to work for them."

It didn’t seem to work as well for my nerves though!

We made it safely to my son’s home in Azusa. Once we were away from Santo Domingo the two-hour drive was much easier and more interesting as we traveled through many small towns and numerous fields of produce.

There was still a lot of traffic, and the quantity of supplies and the number of people loaded on a moped or motorcycle was impressive.

Now I knew where all those mopeds went that we used to see in the late 1970s and early 1980s!

General Facts- Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is the Eastern part of Hispaniola, and Haiti is on the Western end. Weather in the Dominican Republic is typically sunny, with an annual mean temperature of 80°.

Hispaniola is in the path of many hurricanes, so this is a concern if you are traveling in the fall of the year. It is a Spanish-speaking island, and they love baseball!

There are a large variety of things to do when visiting the DR, as they have white water rafting, fishing, scuba diving in the Caribbean and in caves, plus hiking in the beautiful mountains where bananas and other fruits are readily available on the trees.

adventures-in-the-dominican-republic

A Day in Azusa

My son and his wife are missionaries. They built a church, and they managed a medical clinic through a government contract.

The clinic was primarily for the very poor people of El Prado, which is located right next to Azusa.

The day I arrived we had a great meal of foods indigenous to that area, and that cloudless night we climbed onto the roof where it seemed like we saw a million stars as there are no big city lights to affect the view.

The next day we went to the produce and meat market, which was quite an adventure. “Americana’s” was uttered frequently by many of the merchants. Everyone was smiling and friendly.

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Vegetables were laid on the ground on clothes and meat was left uncovered, which attracted the flies. There was a cow’s head and they were just about to slaughter a young goat, so we quickly left that area (without purchases!).

I was amazed at my grandson’s ability to communicate, as he was so young. I was pretty well stuck with Hola, Gracias, Adios and Bueno. We also went to the beach to enjoy the beautiful turquoise water and deep blue sky.

Tourists Days in Santo Domingo

Touring and shopping in Santo Domingo is a treat, and we spent two days in the city spending the night in a hotel. There are several historical sites to visit. We took a guided tour and walked through the fort and heard about the history of the island.

First we toured the Alcazar de Colon which was built by Columbus’s son Diego in 1510, and it has now been beautifully restored.

The Spanish built a castle called the Fortaleza Ozama in the 16th century with a medieval style at the entrance to Santo Domingo. This castle is the oldest formal military castle still standing in the Americas.

The center of the national government of the DR is the National Palace in Santo Domingo, which has the President’s office and the National Congress.

We visited the Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor. The front has a golden-tinted coral limestone facade. The high altar is chiseled out of silver. This church houses a beautiful art collection and ancient wood carvings.

Also in the Zona Colonial is the Mercado Modelo, a busy market where you’ll find Dominican coffee, cigars, local produce, straw products, wood carvings, jewelry, crafts and many other items. Remember to bargain! You can get a better deal.

The DR has the most extensive cave system in the Caribbean. The caves are interesting to explore, and many contain painted and etched artwork done by the indigenous Taino Indians, dating back 1,000 to 3,000 years.

48 Hours in Santo Domingo. Dominican Republic 2021.

Vehicles Often Overloaded

Vehicles Often Overloaded

Barahona Visit

We visited Barahona, an hour west towards Haiti from Azusa. People visit here to see the landscape. The environment includes mountains, lakes, unusual vegetation and a fantastic coastline.

There are 3 national parks, and Parque Nacional Jaraqua contains Laguna Oviedo. It is home to 60 species of birds and home to the largest population of flamingos. This is a protected environment.

This park also has Lago Enriquillo, the largest saltwater lake in the Antilles, located 45 meters below sea level and home of the American crocodile.

The third park is Parque Nacional Sierra de Bahoruco is mountainous with rainforest-type vegetation. It is so interesting to have such distinctly different environments in a relatively small area.

Grandson and I

Grandson and I

Puerto Plata and Samana Bay

People travel to Puerto Plata to see the annual migration of the Humpback Whale as they travel from the colder Atlantic to the warmer, shallow waters of the DR where they mate and give birth to their young.

There is a winter population of over 1500 Humpback Whales.

Later in the season you can watch the calves follow their mothers. There are cruises available to see the whales up close. There are several lovely hotels in the area as well.

No trip to this area would be complete with a tour of the Brugal Rum Factory, as their rum gets rave reviews.

In this general area you will see a lot of tobacco growing. Many of the best growers from Cuba settled in the DR when Castro came to power, and they are known to make high quality cigars.

7 MUST SEE SPOTS in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

In Conclusion

Dominican Republic travel is interesting, and you will see multiple types of environments if you travel to various locations on the island. The mountains are gorgeous.

I loved walking up to a banana tree and eating the ripe banana immediately that tasted wonderful. I also enjoyed the food of the DR. It is not too hot and spicy but seasoned very well.

I found the people to be friendly and usually smiling. There are many DR resorts with some having all inclusive packages. I particularly enjoyed the tour in Santo Domingo, as well as the bargaining in the market. I thought it was a very interesting and fun place to visit.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Pamela Oglesby

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