Sunday, April 5, 2009

Diving Into Dominican Culture




My idea of a family vacation always involves some cultural immersion. I don't go for that walled resort, only guided tours, eating -the-same food-you eat-at home stuff. You never get a true sense of a place if you only experience it from such a limited perspective. So I was pleased as I watched my 11-year-old daughter splash around in Dominican turquoise water with a new friend. They jumped out of the sea and decided to hunt for seashells. Next, they head to the hotel's theater to watch movies. It could be a typical family beach vacation except that my daughter's new friend Madeline is from Lyons, France and doesn't speak a word of English. Neither do most of the staff at the Oasis Canoa Resort in La Romana-Bayahibe, Dominican Republic. My daughter and the rest of my family were forced out of our cultural comfort zone and into the welcoming aura of Dominican friendliness.




Nestled into the Southeastern corner of the Caribbean island of the Dominican Republic, La Romana is a town steeped in sugar factories, baseball games and gorgeous beaches. Located 20 miles from La Romana, Bayahibe is a charming fishing village booming with tourism industry attractions. Unlike the more popular and party-focused Punta Cana, the La Romana area adopts a slower pace and attracts mostly European and Canadian families. We chose to stay at the Oasis Canoa because it offered the best bargains for our family of four as well as easy access to nature preserves and excursions into the surrounding towns. We not only lounged on beaches but we talked and ate with Dominicans and Haitians, bartered with vendors and got up close to snakes, crabs and turtles.




The cultural immersion started as soon as we stepped off the plane. The La Romana area is almost two hours away from the Santo Domingo airport so we booked a local transport company for the transfer to the hotel. I coaxed my husband, son and daughter into brushing up on their Spanish and that opened the door for lots of experiences. Our driver didn't speak much English but we managed to communicate and were rewarded with a tour through major league baseball player Sammy Sosa's hometown and a stop at a craft emporium filled with vibrant carvings and paintings. We walked by the whizzing motor bikes that everybody seems to drive and sipped coconut water from fruit plucked from nearby trees. My son was invited to join in a local baseball game and we were all greeted as long lost compadres.

16 comments:

Ebony Intuition said...

An island I have to visit one day.

Yvonne said...

...Ummmm....can you adopt me?

Fly Girl said...

Ebony, DR really has a vibe all it's own, you should visit.

Yvonne, sure, my daughter has been asking for a sister. You just have to explain to her why Miley Cyrus can't sing and why letting her undershirt hang out from her top is not cute.

Lola said...

Can't wait to go someday.

Been having problems receiving RSS updates.

Fly Girl said...

Lola, my URL has changed. I changed it on your blog so it should connect from there.

Wendy said...

How lovely. I have a cousin living and working in the Dominican Republic. Must go visit...

Jean-Luc Picard said...

A delightful jewel of a place.

A Cuban In London said...

Many thanks for your review. I was in Dominican Republic in 1999, in the north coast. Your report brought many memories back and your photos are spectacular. Many thanks

Greetings from London.

Fly Brother said...

Ay, mi dulce República Dominicana...como te extraño!

I awarded your blog the Lemonade Stand Award; stop by my spot to pick it up if you'd like.

As to your comment on São Paulo: the official promotional video ignored ALL the 'color' that exists in the city. But then, that's typical for Latin America. I still don't understand the hatred other Brazilians have for Sampa. There's no way in hell a city of 20 million people - 20 million Brazilians - can be boring; it's just not possible. The best cultural, intellectual, financial, and political minds in the country concentrate there. Please send me the link to that discussion group you mentioned. I've read that Brazilians suffer a severe inferiority complex when it comes to selling themselves (as evidenced by that bland commercial).

Fin de discurso_

Fly Girl said...

Wendy, Jean-Luc, I'm glad you like my description of DR.

Cubano, I'm glad I inspired fond memories for you. It's an unforgettable place.

Fly Bro, Muy, Muy, Dulce!

St. Maarten island said...

I've never been to Dominican republic, and i think that it is a very wonderful place. I really want to visit the place--someday i will.

Thanks for sharing your experience and your awesome pictures.

-brian

Fly Girl said...

Thanks for visiting Brian, St. Maarten is a wonderful place as well!

jen laceda said...

I NEED to go to the Dominican rep. now!!

St. Maarten island said...

You're welcome! Yes, St. Maarten is a really wonderful place. Check out their awesome beaches and the people are great.

-brian

Austin Condos said...

Domain republic is a grate place,i want to go with my family,when i found him self free i will go,
thanks for share grate experience.

Richard said...

Very nice, Thanks for sharing those information. I have to visit DR... SOON!

Ritch
all inclusive vacation