The beauty beyond the beaches…

We took a trip to the Dominican in April–one my husband earned through his job as a pharmaceutical sales rep.  We’d heard about the resort.  The beautiful beaches with sand as silky as cornstarch. The turquoise water.  The great food. All of that was certainly nice.

But what I came away with was something far beyond the fancy amenities and pretty setting.  And when I got home, I found myself appreciating even the simple things that I’ve always taken for granted.

We took a day long trip far from the beaches and up into the hills, where tiny villages crowded the edge of the narrow roads. Places  where the lack of consistent electricity means that families have no refrigerators, and will buy just what they need for the next meal, because they have no food storage.  Our guide said that in these villages,  one can buy half an onion and a handful of rice from a little roadside vendor–just what the meal calls for.  There aren’t any supermarkets out there.  The photo of the tiny market at left was right at the edge of the narrow road, where trucks and motorcycles whizzed past the young children playing.  The meat market, below, was in the open air.

The little pink “gas station” shown above was back in the hills, and we saw many like it–where someone can buy just a pint or quart of gas for their motorcycle.  We saw four and five people crowded onto little mopeds–shared transportation.

We saw a mother bathing her toddler outside, standing next to a barrel of water.  Visited a school, where the requirement of a school uniform means that some children can’t attend, because their family has no money to buy one.  A sign in the backwoods school we toured encourages young boys to grow up respecting women and treating them well, because a generation or two ago, women had few rights and their lives were much worse.  So many aspects of life in these rural, remote areas seemed challenging.

And yet, everywhere we went, we were so awed by the beauty of the land.  The vivid, cheerful colors used to paint the tiny houses tucked amongst the cacao trees.   The bright, beautiful smiles children gave us as they posed eagerly for  photos. Our guide offered fascinating glimpses into the lives of these rural people, and noted that tourism is eagerly welcomed in this country.  With crime levels on the rise in Mexico, he noted that the crime rate is extremely low in the Dominican Republic, and thus it offers a safe and beautiful destination for tourists.

What are your favorite places to visit, and why?  What is one place you’ve always hoped to visit?

Happy Trails!

Roxanne Rustand

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7 Responses to The beauty beyond the beaches…

  1. Cindy Gerard says:

    wow Rox. Sounds like a great setting for a book! thanks for sharing … so interesting.

  2. Kylie Brant says:

    DR is my favorite place to travel, as you know. But it’s definitely third world. We’ve been going for a lot of years now and it’s interesting to see the changes taking place in the country as a result of the relatively new tourism industry. Still the Punta Cana province is the ‘richest’ in the country and many places further away continue to struggle. As you found, the true life in the country is in the hills and mountains. The guide for our zip lining outing took us to a school the company sponsors. He asked that we don’t give people money because they’re trying to encourage kids to grow up and get jobs. He too stated something about classes to teach males how to treat females. They are really trying to change that poverty culture, but it’s slow. Many of the DR workers that we meet who speak English always ask where we’re from and when we say the States, their faces light up. “Ah, the USA. I go there someday!” You can tell that they see our country as the holy grail. And yes, the trip is always very sobering!

  3. Sobering is right. And I continually had to wonder at what the Dominican people thought of the tourists…the wastefulness in the restaurants, the comparatively expensive clothes, the fancy luggage, the fact that the visitors have the money to travel, the air of entitlement that I saw in some people (whose mommas should have taught them better, no matter how wealthy they are by world standards.) The people there were very friendly, and our guide said that the Dominicans are really grateful for tourism, because it has given the country such a boost. But I still felt a niggle of guilt.

  4. Leanne says:

    Roxanne, your pics are beautiful. I’ve visited some places in the Caribbean and felt that same niggle of guilt. I just have to hope my tourism dollars help a little and I usually try to find a way to make a charitable contribution. One place I’ve always wanted to visit is Switzerland! I’ve heard it’s so clean and beautiful!:)

  5. Gorgeous pix, Rox.

    We took a drive into Mexico years ago. We went with friends–he’s Mexican–in their car to Monterrey. It was my favorite kind of trip–educational. Learned way more than I can expound upon here, but one thing that still makes me smile is that when we crossed the border back into the U.S., hubby said, “Okay. I’ll never complain about paying taxes again.” We’d driven on crappy roads where we’d been stopped by “Federales” and then by “banditos.” Both apparently looking for the same thing, according to our friends–drugs to confiscate and sell. But the real eye-opener was the beautiful privately owned road we took on our return. We paid a steep toll to get on it. There was absolutely no traffic on it. Why? Because it’s a for-profit, privately owned toll road. Nobody uses it. Hooray for the U.S. highway system, among many other things!

    I love to travel. Love meeting people whose lives are different from mine. Amazing what variety we have right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. One of our favorite places to re-visit is New Mexico. Love Santa Fe!

  6. debradixon says:

    Roxanne! I so understand what you saw. We saw so much of that in Africa. Great pics of the “reality.” Even so, it looks pretty clean to me.

  7. What’s up, yup this piece of writing is truly
    good and I have learned lot of things from it concerning blogging.

    thanks.

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