The Sights


I was reading about a hot air balloon accident that happened a few days ago and it got me to thinking about the safety of many of the excursions and other tourist (and non-tourist) activities in the Dominican Republic. This particular incident was with a Hot air balloon company in Higuey called DomBall. Apparently they had a “rough” landing and had to come down in a sugar cane field. None of the 12 passengers were hurt and in the end “all is well”. But this got me to thinking of the many other potentially life threatening activities available here and the general regard for safety concerns I normally see here.

Let’s start with a joke. In this joke it was mentioned “I’m not saying I want to kill all stupid people, I’m just suggesting that you remove all the safety labels from common items (i.e. ‘CAREFUL the coffee in this cup is very hot!’) and let nature run its course.” This kind of illustrates what seems to be a general attitude in this country.

Let me give just a few examples of things I’ve seen

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The Dominican Republic is one of the favorite locations for Eco-Tourists. People flock to the mountains of Jarabacoa for outdoor activities, and the beaches of Samana for Humpback Whale watching. While jarabacoa is great any time of year there is a distinct season for Whale Watching and that begins in January.

Humpback Whale watching Season

During the winter month the humpback whales begin their migration from the cold Northern feeding grounds of the Gulf of Maine and the east coast of Canada down to the warm waters of the Caribbean for their mating season. By mid winter, January the whales arrive and remain in the Caribbean through the early spring months. Mating season lasts from January to March and large numbers of Humpback whales can be seen in the waters near Samana of the Dominican Republic.

It is estimated that as many as 1500 whales mate in the waters of the Samana Bay and at any given time during the season there can be as many as 300 in the water giving sight seers (more…)

As part of an international beauty contest and the International Tourism Film Festival the Dominican Republic will be choosing a “Miss Dominican Nature” who will compete for the Miss Nature Crown. The new Miss Nature International will be an international ambassador in environmental protection campaigns and will be part of fund raising efforts for environmental protection.

Candidates will need to be single, at least 5’5’’ in height and between 18 and 26 years old. The candidate will also need to be well versed in the culture of the country they represent. While one of the other requirements is that the candidate be physically fit, there is no ward yet as to whether there will be a “Miss Nature swim suit competition” as part of the contest. (more…)

Most of the articles I write are more centered on foreigners living in the Dominican Republic. Today I thought I’d write more about the locals. If you are living in the campos (rural areas) of the Dominican Republic it is pretty hard to get a decent paying job. The average worker in the fields in my area make between $10 and $15 per day for 8-10 hours in the rice and other fields. While there are some higher paying jobs in the towns, maybe working at a colmado (small store), banka (lottery booth) or one of the other stores, competition is pretty rough and so the pay isn’t much better. Then you have the large companies like Barrick Gold, it is the dream of many of the younger guys here to get “empleo de minas” or a job at the mine.

Without a doubt the pay at the mines is much better and while I haven’t personally visited the mines, I have quite a few friends that work there and it would seem safety and other working conditions are not too bad. You can either stay at the mine, or if you live in one of the towns near Cotui there are busses that will pick you up and take you back home each work day. The biggest problem with working at the Barrick mine is they pretty much own you. (more…)

I don’t often write an entire post around a video, but I found this video to be interesting. If you are interested in learning about the Dominican Culture and people this video does a great job of describing the views of Dominican toward their culture and heritage.

It is interesting to note that the Dominicans are not the indigenous people of this island; this goes the same for the Haitians. Both are actually a mix of Africans that were brought in as slaves and French for Haiti and Spain for the Dominican Republic.

Even with this heritage in mind, Dominicans do not count themselves as black. (more…)

It’s interesting to watch how the American culture is coming into the Dominican Republic. My work at times takes me into some of the social networks like Twitter and Facebook, where today I stumbled on a Twitter trend clamoring for Justin Bieber to extend his Believe Tour to the Dominican Republic.

The point I actually found interesting is how just a few years ago the internet barely existed in the DR. Now it has become deeply rooted in the country with kids being able to access the internet even from deep within the campos (small rural towns). The fan club has been trying to get signatures for their internet petition to convince the pop star to come to the Dominican Republic. Judging from the over 14,000 likes the Justin Bieber Dominican Republic “official” fan club has it is safe to say that the internet is now playing an important role in the lives of many youths here. There is even a “Believe Tour to the Dominican Republic” twitter trend that is reaching the top trends for the Dominican Republic. (more…)

Professional BMX Rider Nigel Sylvester was recently seen tearing up the streets in the Dominican Republic. Sylvester was born in Queens New York and is well known for his BMX freestyle riding. He also has a BMX store in Queens selling BMX equipment as well as skating and street ware.

Nigel Sylvester Dominican BMX Video

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Well, this little piece of news should be spurring the young Dominican males to even greater heights of frenzy when it comes to baseball. The Rangers have been reported to have signed on a 16 year old out fielder from the Dominican Republic, out fielder Nomar Mazara and to the tune of a little over 5 Million.
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Teresa Giudice of the reality show “Real Housewives of New Jersey” was spotted vacationing in the Dominican republic recently. Apparently not everyone here is a fan of the star, during a bar room brawl started by Guidice spraying champagne on other patrons in the bar she was punched in the face.

After she was punched, of course her husband got into the fight and it continued to escalate and eventually involve a large number of people in the bar. In the end 8 people were arrested including Joe and Teresa Giudice.

This does bring up a good travel tip. Something to think about as you are visiting the DR or vacation. (more…)

Wal-Mart Dominican Republic

Wal-Mart Dominican Republic Style

During one of our beach vacations we stumbled upon a rather interesting sight. I bet you didn’t know there is a Wal-Mart in the DR! Well, it’s true (sort of), and we have pictures for proof. Now don’t expect the usual array of household items, electronic, automotive, garden and other items we’ve all come to know and expect while shopping at this retail giant. And the prices here were not exactly what I would call “mark down”. The DR Wal-Mart is a little more … well let’s say “Local”.

Ok, it’s probably not an official retail store but we did find it rather entertaining. And if you squint your eyes well enough so you block out the rest of the surroundings and only see the sign, you can almost get that nostalgic feeling with this little taste of back home (well, almost).

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