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Saturday, 8 April 2017

Dominican Republic

In May 2014, I visited the Dominican Republic (DR), one of my most remarkable destinations ever. The month of May wasn't a smart choice as I quickly learned. I am not sure what I disliked most: the heat, the humidity, or the mosquitos sucking the blood from my ankles and leaving me with itching bites. I recommend visiting from September to March/April.

During the planning of my visit, I noticed that the DR is on the same island as Haiti. Many Haitians work in the DR to escape poverty. Both countries still have a love-hate relationship, ever since the Haitian invasion of 1805. Being called black is an insult to many (black) DR women, who consider themselves Afro-Latina unlike Haitian women who are proud of their African origin.

My reason for visiting DR was reconnaissance for a possible emigration in view of (early) retirement. For others, the DR is either a refuge location to escape civil or criminal law, or for sex tourism. I opted for Sosua rather than Punta Cana and a hotel rather than a resort. This would allow mingling with the local population.

The Dutch hotel in Sosua was close to a great Italian bar, cafe and restaurant that also featured a choice of Italian ice cream and desserts. Several restaurants impressed me by their excellent price/quality ratio. The owner of another Italian restaurant, a former F1 driver, made vitello tonnato just for me, after I noticed this classic was missing on his menu. It took him a few days to find the meat and he still excused himself for its quality. It was excellent.

Beachlife in Sosua is a little complicated as beach resorts block access to the beaches. If you pay close attention then you will notice that there are semi hidden paths to the beaches. The official Sosua beach is disappointing given its remote location and its small length and width.

Nightlife in Sosua is impressive but only in the weekends when the number of tourists explodes following the many American visitors, mostly black and male. It's quite funny to see their DR girlfriends arrive at the hotel by motorcycles, carrying their big suitcases.

DR women are impressive in various ways. They spend lots of hours in many small hairdressing shops to straighten their curly (Afro) hair. At daytime, they often walk with umbrellas or anything else to protect their hair from rain. Allegedly, DR hair stylists are the best in the world. The DR also features an impressive number of divorce lawyers which makes you wonder.

Sleeping in Sosua wasn't easy but not for the obvious reason. Noise in Sosua continued 24/7, despite being at the edge of the city center. Everything what can drive, will drive and regardless of driving skills - or license. Honking in the middle of the night is normal for warning other drivers. Indeed, my hotel was located at a crossroad junction.

After 2 weeks, I decided that early retirement was premature as I was saddened by the look at the hotel bar expat visitors. Drinking and smoking seemed to be my future and I do neither.

Since some weeks, I suddenly miss travelling again. I noticed some remarkably touching words from Helen Steiner Rice: "And memories are priceless possessions that time can never destroy. For it is in happy remembrance that the heart finds its greatest joy."

Uptown Funk (2014) by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars