Where do you go if you want to stay warm in March to try out your new kayak? As far away as possible. Nobody can suspect that summer is breaking out in Germany at that time. As far away as possible means even further than the Canary Islands – on Fuerteventura there was just a snow record.
The Caribbean offers a good balance of travel time and warmth. And for this very reason you can travel to the “DomRep”, which is notorious for package tourism, very cheaply. But it doesn’t have to be package tourism; there is a lot of country and culture away from the hotel strongholds.
The Dominican Republic shares an island with Haiti, which we know well from the news at the latest. Natural disasters ravage the country and poverty per capita is higher in hardly any other country. Many Haitians work illegally here in the Dominican Republic.
I land in Puerto Plata in the north of the island and travel a few stages to the southeast to fly back from Punta Cana.
Puerto Plata is a good base to adjust to life in the Caribbean. I am accompanied by Jessica.
The city is not particularly big and tourism is modest. The package travelers are carted directly into their all-inclusive resorts and only a few locals and very few individual travelers remain at the exit. That’s probably why no one is thinking of setting up something like a shuttle bus to the city.
The lady of our accommodation kindly collects us. Through the night and a tropical rain shower we get from the airport to the city.
“DomRep” in backpacking style – is it possible?
Actually, it should be the dry season, but the downpour, which even washes away entire cars in the next few days, bears witness to something else and thwarts many of my plans. Most of the time the rain starts around 2pm and doesn’t stop until midnight. So you have to hurry up with your activities.
In Puerto Plata there is a little brother of Christus Redender who speaks on a mountain, who is known from Rio or Lisbon. There is also a beautiful tropical park. Puerto Plata has a pretty tiny town center, but that’s about it.
As in most Caribbean countries, two stimulants are particularly common: rum and tobacco. A lot of it is also produced in good quality in the Dominican Republic. I don’t miss out on tasting it extensively on site.
The Brugal distillery can be found on the outskirts of the city. Tobacco manufacturers can even be found in the city center on the large square.
Creoles are friendly and cater to tourists. But they are not pushy and accept if you are not interested. But it doesn’t look as if many individual travelers come through here. People seem to have adjusted to tour groups.
We find a Creole restaurant and are curious about what the local cuisine has to offer. However, what is traditional does not always have to be good. What looks like macaroni in my bowl are all parts of an animal that are tubular. Esophagus, vessels, arteries… with tomato sauce.
After a few bites, my stomach turns and I have to admit that this dish is an interesting experience, but not a treat.
I learn that people used to eat this dish often since the Creoles, being slaves to the whites, got leftovers. But why people let such a court continue to exist is not clear to me.
Local cuisine is not good by default…
In the afternoon it’s raining heavily again. It doesn’t want to end and the water masses are frightening. In no time the streets turn into raging rivers and we wade through the floods.
The next day we learn that three people died in the storm.
After a few days, we take a guagua to Las Terrenas, the entry point to the Samana Peninsula.
There we spend the next stage at one of the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever seen and hope for better weather.