Having never been to the Dominican Republic we had fairly high expectations of what we would find and so far it hasn’t disappointed. We found the Dominican Republic to be packed with interest, history, fascination and some pretty crazy stuff given that the island is only 400km long and 265km wide!
It’s so geographically diverse with cloud scraping lush green mountains, the highest peak in the Caribbean as well as desert scrubland, historic colonial architecture and postcard worthy beaches. So it’s no wonder we need a bit of time to explore it more!
We often see families of four plus their shopping or random gas bottle or whatever they’ve just gone out to collect, all piled on a small motorbike with no helmets in sight. Frightens the bajeesas out of me but they drive along with complete tranquility.
They see the surprise on our faces and just laugh at us! I love seeing the older women who ever so elegantly ride side saddle, they’re pretty cool!
The Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. Christopher Columbus arrived here in 1492 on his first voyage to the New World and claimed the island for Spain. It has the oldest cathedral, monastery and hospital in the Americas and has been ruled by Spain, France and even the Dutch tried to raid it! It’s grown to have 11 million people of which 16% are white, 15% black and over 70% of mixed race.
We drove from the north east to the capital of Santo Domingo in the south, through some really dodgy areas so it was no surprise to learn that 40% of people here live in poverty with 4% in extreme poverty, yet the locals sitting on their plastic chairs, huddled on the street corners, having their afternoon chats were full of smiles and eager to say hi to us, which was fine from the security of our car!
We’ve just done a 3 day passage sailing from the east coast right around to the north west coast and the landscape was spectacular.
While it’s in the Caribbean it’s very different to most of the chain of islands. For a start, the peaks are mostly higher but there’s more variation in the size and shape. Some are sheer light beige cliffs, some with flat table like fields on top while others are small and smooth like Tele Tubby hills and yet others have a concertina effect that zigzag along the waters edge. And they’re almost all interspersed with thousands of palm trees and a variety of greens; talk about tropical jungle!
Attempting to speak in Spanish again has been fun and also a little embarrassing as I try to remember what’s Spanish and what’s Italian!
The DR is a very Latino culture wrapped up in some very Caribbean traits which makes for some wildly contradictory sights. It’s glorious to be surrounded by some of that Latino culture again and we’re looking forward to seeing more of this interesting country.