Dominican Republic is located in the beautiful Caribbean. The country shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. Dominicans are extremely friendly. They enjoy their beautiful music and are known for their bachata. Meringue and salsa are also part of their favorites. Some of the most breath-taking resorts, beaches, and historic places in the Caribbean are located in the Dominican Republic. The oldest city and the oldest Catholic Church building (the Gothic Cathedral Primada de America) in all the Americas are found in the heart of Santo Domingo, the capital. This Cathedral is about 5 centuries old. If you ever visit the country, you have to go to the Colonial Zone (Zonial Colonial) district. While you are there, don’t forget to stop by the Cave, The Three Eyes (Los Tres Ojos).
When Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas, he landed in Mole Saint Nicholas which is in the northern part of Haiti. He and the settlers built their first city in Saint Domingue which is called Santo Domingo. In those days, Haiti and the Dominican Republic were one country. The country was called Hispaniola. Hispaniola means Little Spain. After that period, the country became a colony of France. It was one of the most prosperous colonies of France. The French used to refer to it as The Pearl of the Antilles (La Perle des Antilles). After Cuba, the island of Hispaniola is the largest island in the Caribbean.
The climate is inviting all year around. The terrain comprises high mountains, rainforest, savannah, waterfalls, and beautiful hills. Pico Duarte which is considered as the tallest mountain in the Caribbean is also in the Dominican Republic.
If you fly to Dominican Republic and land in Punta Cana, a touristic airport and local musicians will make you feel that you have arrived to a relaxing destination. You can feel the atmosphere, breathe the tropical air, and embrace the warmth of the people. As you drive only few miles you find yourself in the midst of the most luxurious resorts in the areas of Punta Cana and Bavaro.
In the city of Higuey stands the beautiful Catholic Church, La Basilica. The only one that exists in the whole Caribbean. On January 21, people travel from several countries to participate in the pilgrimage. During that week, the entire city is full of visitors from all over the DR and many other countries. There is currently another Basilica being built in the city of Bayaguana. The region of Altagracia is known for its touristic attraction.
The Dominicans are also excellent in the kitchen. One of their popular dishes is called La Bandera (The Flag) which has white rice, bean source, and chicken. Describing this meal only with words does not do it justice. You have to taste it. Years ago, a friend of mine, Greg Ropper, who served an LDS mission in the Dominican Republic, went back with the Lift a Life organization. He had one of the people he had met while he was there cooked La Bandera for our team. All the visitors commented on how delicious it was. If you want to talk about fruits, we can fill a book on that subject. There are over 52 types of mangoes. One of my favorite fruits is passion fruit. I drink this juice with great passion.
About 10 years ago, a Dominican friend (Socrates Alcantara) took me to the farm of his in-laws. They picked some fresh cherries and made a pitcher of cherry juice. There is nothing like drinking fresh cherry juice in the middle of a hot day. What about drinking fresh coconut water after watching a friend climbing the tree. Ask the volunteers who have been on humanitarian service with Lift A Life. They will tell about their experience as they observed our friend, Mingo, climbing coconut trees to pick some fresh coconut for them. I have a ritual when I go to the Dominican Republic. I have to have my sugar cane, my avocado, my passion fruit, my mango, my guandules (very delicious bean) and my everything else.
While Haitians are known for their passion for football (soccer), Dominicans are famous for their love of baseball. All the 30 major baseball leagues in United States have their camps in the Dominican Republic. I witnessed young children playing on the street in the DR. A child would through a bottle cap and the other would hit right it on the dime with a simple stick. These children don’t need beautiful field or equipment/uniform to go out there and enjoy a baseball game. When you visit the poor villages and towns, if you bring a baseball, a bat, you instantly become the most popular person.
Come with us to the Dominican Republic! You will have a great time. At the same time, you will change a life; learn a new culture; and return home with a change of heart.
Authored by Illens Dort