Dominican Republic

Did you know that Christopher Columbus landed on the DR in 1492? Neither did I, until I strolled down the first street in the New World in Santo Domingo's Zona Colonial. We also landed here first and stayed at the charming Boutique Hotel Palacio just around the corner from the historical drag. After Santo Domingo, we traveled to the North Central coast and the towns of Puerto Plata and Cabrete, where we stayed at the amazing Natura Cabanas. (One day I will lead a yoga retreat here, so start saving now!) This was the highlight of our trip as we got to meet up with Patrick's old friend Amanda, her partner Hari and beautiful daughter Gaia. They showed us around Cabrete, the Old town of Puerto Plata, and to their home in the hills (pictured below), where we were served a homemade delicious lunch of Hari's creation. I love visiting people who live in an area and experiencing a new place with the backdrop of their stories. They're an awesome and inspiring family who I hope to see again real soon. 

We traveled next to Las Terrenas, which has more tourist feel than our other destinations and definitely a bit more expensive. Pleasant nonetheless, we enjoyed some downtime and an excursion to Parque Nacional Los Haitises, a good spot for birding but probably a little more trips to caves than we would have liked on our own. I might have enjoyed going on a trip to the nearby famous and secluded beaches like Playa Rincon a bit more. 

Trip highlights:

*Dominican Rum: WOW, super smooth rather than spicy as other rum varieities. It's hard to tell you're even drinking alcohol when mixed with natural fruit juices, so be careful! Favorite drink: Chinola Mojito

*Food: Fried Plantains, Empanadas, and lots of great European restaurants Favorite meal: all the dinners at Nautra Cabana, great flavor and artful presentation

*People: Dominicans are warm, helpful and funny. I felt really safe and welcome pretty much the entire trip. Including a random encounter where Patrick and I got lost walking back to Natura Cabana. A security guard offered to take us through a short cut on a enclosed wooded trail, whilst gesturing with his shot gun. We had to politely refuse to follow him into the dark woods and opt to go the long way around on the well lite street, just out of sheer ridiculousness and seasoned traveler's boundaries. The guard also chuckled a little. In the morning, we looked to notice it was about 10 feet through the trail to our hotel on the other side. 

*Walking: on long stretches of beach, historical downtown streets, small beach towns. Relaxing, interesting, and super easy to get around