I recently traveled to the Dominican Republic for the first time. Experiencing another culture, another country for the first time, is so much more memorable when you fully immerse yourself in their culture. Instead of staying in Santa Domingo, we stayed in Barahona in a compound in the middle of the village. If I would have stayed in a resort in the city I would not have had the wonderful opportunity that I did to learn about the culture and build lifelong relationships.
Sights, Sounds, Smells, and Snacks
Every morning I woke up to the smell of fresh coffee and the sound of roosters welcoming the sun as it rose over the ocean. They locally grow and roast their coffee beans, so when I say each morning I had a fresh, delicious cup of coffee, I mean it. One day we took an extremely bumpy ride up the mountain to visit the mountain village. While there I got to see some of the coffee plants, and try a cup of coffee Dominican style. They brewed us some fresh coffee that they had sweetened with lots of sugar; it was dark and sweet.
During my time in the mountain village, we went for a hike to see a breath-taking view of the ocean and the city of Barahona. On our hike we found some grapefruits. Our guides cut them open for us and loaded them up with raw sugar for a refreshing snack. Their fruit was so fresh and full of flavor.
Culture and Community
The fruit and coffee weren’t the most memorable part of my trip, however. It was the people and the culture that made my experience so unforgettable. The people that I met were full of love and life. Up in the mountain I met an 80 year old man, Miguel. He had such a passion and love for his village. I also met an elderly woman and even though we didn’t speak the same language she greeted me with a big smile and a warm hug. How I wish I could have heard her story! One thing that amazed me was how close knit the people of the village were. They were like one big family; it gave a whole new meaning to the word community.
During my short time there I fell in love with the people and the culture of the Dominican Republic and cannot wait to go back. Next time I hope to be more familiar with the language, and plan to bring a hammock for a relaxing siesta in the sun.