We have arrived in the Dominican Republic. We’re “beachy people” again! Yay!!!
We’ve been taking the last week to settle in and get a lay of the land but we’re finally ready to share some first impressions with you.
But first… where are we??
And second.. what’s it called?
Well, in English we use the abbreviation of DR (or “The DR”). But in Spanish it’s abbreviated as RD – Republica Dominicana. I’ll stick to DR for you guys so as to avoid any confusion. You’re welcome.
So here are some of our observations from the first week. In no particular order, and subject to change after a longer time here. We are still in our honeymoon phase where we are looking at real estate as if we’re planning to stay forever. That’s the typical honeymoon phase we tend to go through in a new place. We know from experience that will change.
Or will it?
Only country bumpkins or tourist gringas would be caught dead in Medellin without SOME SORT of high heel on. But not here. It’s all flip flops, all the time. If shoes are even worn, that is. Everyone walks around in various stages of undress, mostly wearing bathing suits with some dress or loose shirt thrown on the top. The women of Medellin would be horrified. Very little makeup is worn and most people look like they’ve spent way too much time in the sun… like 40 years too long. Learn from this, Niñas…. sun exposure is good for you, but in moderation! I gotta admit, though, it’s nice to not feel like you have to get all dolled up to leave the house. The “just rolled out of the ocean” look is totally acceptable.
The Turtles: “You’re killing me”
Unfortunately, we are back to not being able to drink water from the tap. I get a little dagger to the heart every time I order water at the restaurant and it comes in single-use plastic bottles. With a little more time and routine I’ll start to bring my own from home. We are carrying our own bags, a habit we developed in Medellin. So there’s that. But all the carry-out food and restaurant leftovers come in Styrofoam. Styrofoam!!! ARGH.
Dear Airbnb Owner
We are staying in an Airbnb while we look around for our longer-term housing. It’s just MEH. We arrived from Miami at 11:30 pm, which is never a winning scenario. Haley’s shower routine is always at night so she was none too pleased with the non-functioning hot water. We figured out quickly that you have to flip a switch to power on the hot water heater but it didn’t get it warm enough, fast enough. We debated about which country we previously had to flip the switch to heat the water. It was Dubai, Fam. Trust me, I remember. Having 19 countries under our belt means that we’ve usually experienced these types of differences in other locations.
You’ll be happy to know that by night #2 we figured out how to get it piping hot (although for a very short duration) and Haley was content. But in general we are not fond of this Airbnb. The bones of the house work well and the exterior is nice but the overall lack of care for the interior just doesn’t make you feel very comfortable. The moldy coffee grounds left in the coffee maker were not impressive. The location works great for walking to stores, the beach and the one main road in town. So there’s that. It’s just too bad when you see a place that has great potential but it’s under-attended. (Owners are great, though. So that’s good.)
Gracias for the GF
I have been following a gluten free diet for about 10 years and Haley joined the club about 6 months ago for health reasons. (Thanks genetics! #sorryHaley) Gluten free options are always a question wherever we go. There is none of our fabulous GF quinoa bread to be found but we found GF waffles and enough GF mixes at the store to get us what we need. Haley and I are content.
Oh the Moto
Motos (motorcycles) are prevalent, just like Colombia. But with the “devil may care” life-risking behavior that is more reminiscent of Thailand. They drive with minimal lights, dark clothing and cruising along at a very slow speed on a fast moving highway OR a very HIGH rate of speed on roads that are supposed to be slow. It’s like they have a list of techniques in the “I want to die” game and they just choose which one they want for each trip. “Moto taxi” service is popular here, wherein if you have a motorized two wheel vehicle, you’re qualified to give someone a ride for a price. Sounds safe, right? I think I’ll stick to our own car, car taxis or the bus, thankyouverymuch.
Moto users also wear no helmets, they pile as many people as they possibly can on the back and they pass your car ON ALL SIDES. Before turning left or right in a car you really have to do a 360 scan of your car to make sure no one is passing you. We have a rental car here but so far Dan is the only driver and he is driving verrrry slowwwly, mainly due to the constant stream of
unsolicited and unwanted helpful advice from the right seat driver. #sorrynotsorry
The Star of the Show: The Beach
Yep, the beach. It’s here, and it’s gorgeous. The water and air temperature is amazing, the humidity seems relatively low and the sun is warm and comforting. The waves are great and the sand is too. While playing in the surf, men in semi-official-looking uniforms try to sell you things while ladies insist on braiding Zoe’s hair for a very good price, “just for you”. The good news is, they all seem to take a gentle “no gracias” with a smile and move along.
There are plenty of restaurants situated on the beach we live near who will happily set up a chair for you ($2 to rent all day) and bring you food and drink (that aren’t too terribly expensive). There are no huge hotels, as the building ordinance (we assume) says they cannot build higher than the palm trees – which is about 3 stories. And parallel to the beach is the one main road through town. It’s easy to cut through the hotels or restaurants to get to the main road from the beach and vice versa. When we go to dinner we discuss whether to take the beach route or the road route. We know where all the foot showers are. After a few days in the Airbnb we managed to get sand everywhere in the apartment so now we know better.
English? Spanish? We dunno, Mon.
There’s a lot of English spoken in the area that we’ve been hanging out. But listening to the Dominicans speak to each other it’s a whole different language. We pick up a lot of Spanish words but they are strung together so fast, and missing half of the word. Every once in awhile we pick up a “Mon”, Jamaican-style. Which makes us laugh and want to say “mon” all the time. It’s fun, Mon. When we speak in Spanish at stores and restaurants we always get a surprised and quizzical look. They ask where we are from and we tell them it’s complicated.
That Caribbean Vibe
It’s hard to describe the vibe but it’s definitely very relaxed. Our favorite reality show films in the Caribbean and on one episode the crew was getting ready to go out on the town. Someone said “You don’t have to look too perfect, remember this is the Caribbean”. That stuck with me and it’s true. Everyone is very relaxed, there’s no hurry, no one seems to be stressed and no one looks like they spent too much time getting ready that morning. It’s like everyone is on vacation even if they are working. If you see someone in a shirt with a collar, you think “oh wow, they are dressed up!”. Other than the fact that I have all the wrong clothes from trying to look nice in Medellin (and no mall anywhere nearby to correct this tragedy), I like this vibe. It reminds us a lot of our first Worldschooling adventure in Pedasi, Panama, but with more tourist amenities that you’d find in Cancun, Mexico.
More to Come
You know there will be a lot more to say about our new country, The DR. We’re looking for an apartment to rent, going to check out dive schools and other activities for the kids and we’ve got a few visitors lined up. We’ll be here for just over 2 months so we’ve got a lot of ‘sploring to do in a short time. Stay tuned for all the deets!