About a month ago I spent a week in the Dominican Republic, on a work-related trip. This may easily have been my 10th visit to this wonderful island, so I have to admit I am a fortunate person indeed. As in every previous stay, I really enjoyed my time there, even though I was on work mode for the most part and despite the fact that I came down with a terrible flu a couple of days after arriving, which I blame on my crazy travel and all those hours spent among airports, airplanes and hotels.
I stayed in the Punta Cana area most of that week and my being working and sick at the same time prevented me from enjoying the fantastic beaches as much as I’d have liked to. I am glad, however, that I did make the effort to join some colleagues on a culinary adventure one night: we left the resort to have dinner at a vegan restaurant called Amaluna, located in the area known as El Cortecito.
It was a surprisingly delicious experience! Amaluna is a truly hidden gem and it features creative dishes that are not only unique in flavor but also beautifully presented. That night they had two 4-course menus to choose from (one Mediterranean and one Indian-inspired) as well as a fabulous tasting option. All vegan, all tasty as well as gorgeous. I didn’t miss meat at all that evening!
This was the first time I traveled to the northern area of the island too. I paid a short visit to Puerto Plata, a picturesque colonial town featuring Victorian houses and a boardwalk (or malecón) with kiosks where you can stop for a drink or snack. Puerto Plata used to be Dominican Republic’s main tourist attraction but these days it is not visited as much. Things have started to change lately, however, and it will be soon included in the route of some cruise lines, which should boost the local economy.
If you are considering a trip to this area and you’re a beach lover or into water sports (windsurfing, kite surfing, paddle boarding, etc.), you must also visit Sosua and Cabarete, which are not that far away and are both very charming places.
It does take several hours to get here from Punta Cana but the trip is totally worth it, especially because of the sightseeing. El Cibao is simply an amazing region, full of mountains and a lot of greenery…it almost feels like a different country (it actually reminded me of Costa Rica a lot)!
Another highlight of the trip was, of course, the crazy way Dominicans drive cars and ride motorcycles. I honestly don’t know how there aren’t more accidents…it was nerve-wracking! On the other hand, I loved seeing children have such a good time just by riding bikes or playing ball, sometimes with a branch as a bat…that’s exactly what childhood should be about, being active and having fun! The one other thing that I found fascinating was that, despite the poverty around, I also saw a rather high number of luxury cars. Apparently, not only there is significant wealth in the island but also some Dominicans find absolutely justifiable to spend a lot of money on cars. I was once told that the Dominican Republic has the highest number of luxury cars per capita in the world. I'm not sure if this is accurate or just an urban legend…
This trip was also very special to me because it gave me the opportunity to get to know some friends a bit better, to meet interesting people that have now become friends and to reconnect with old friends that I hadn’t seen in a couple of years.
The timing couldn’t have been better, as I really needed a reminder about the value of the people in our lives and the power of friendship.
I must mention as well that I was very spoiled during this visit by the Dominican people: my colleagues made special arrangements to bring me medicine and deliver special food to my hotel room when I was not feeling well while in Punta Cana, and I had the best tour guides during my short visit to Puerto Plata, my friends Moisés and Julissa (former 'playenses').
I just want to finish this post with this thought: one of the things I like about going back to a place I’ve been to before is that I have the opportunity to re-discover things that I know already but at the same time I know I’ll also have totally new experiences, based on a series of factors: my mood, the reason for my visit, my travel companions, etc. This trip definitely delivered in both aspects, I truly enjoyed the things I was familiar with already and I embraced the new ones. Hope to be back sometime soon to explore more of the ‘bella Quisqueya’!