If you like to check out the sky at night there will be something of interest to look at this Friday (10/24/13). There will be a lunar Eclipse between about 7:50pm and 11:50pm where over the course of 4 hours the moon will come into the shadow of the earth. This will be visible during anywhere on the dark side of the Earth during that time. This is the second lunar eclipse to happen so far this year.

Lunar Eclipse Viewing

Unlike a solar eclipse, lunar eclipses are safe to view with the naked eye. The moon does not get any brighter than it would normally. This does make for an interesting set of pictures where over just a few hours span you can take the moon completely lit through the stages where is it completely dark (in the shadow of the earth) and back to fully lit again.

If you plan on taking pictures it is best to use a tripod to hold your camera. You will normally need to use exposure times of 5 or more seconds to get a bright clear shot. Unlike when taking pictures of star trail you don’t want to set the exposure for much more than that, unless you are looking to have the moon move across a wide angle view picture changing as it goes along. NikonUSA has a good tutorial Lunar Eclipse Photography that explains three different methods to capture the Lunar Eclipse.

Of course if you want to see the lunar eclipse well you will need to get out of any of the larger towns and cities. The light produced around the larger cities like Santiago, Santo Domingo, Punta Cana etc, will make it pretty hard to get a good shot. This is a good time to visit a friend in the campos so you gat get clear pictures without a background haze from the city lights.

It’s party time again in La Vega Dominican Republic. While it always kind of seams like there is a party going on, the month of February brings it to new heights. Each weekend during the month of February there will be parties going on throughout most of the Dominican Republic but the most famous area is Carnival Vegano in Le Vega.

The carnival is known for its costumes and in particular the masks. Groups of people spend month creating elaborate costumes called “diablos cojuelos” , or Devils with the competition centering around who can create the most grotesque masks.

Part of the celebration include “vejigas”. Originally dried cow bladder but now can be made out of almost anything similar. These are used to whip people in the streets. (more…)

Monument to the Heroes of the Restoration

Monument to the Heroes of the Restoration

Santiago de los Trienta Caballeros (Saint James of the Knights) is located in the northern region of the Dominican Republic and has several places that are definitely worth visiting. As a resident of this fair city, I’m always open for places to go, and the Santiago Monument is one I would recommend for anyone who finds themselves here looking for something to do.

A Local Hot Spot
Situated on the corner of Avenida Francia and Las Carreras, the monument is a popular place. After any event of Dominican note, (like when Martha Heredia won the Latin American Idol, Amelia Vega won Miss Universe, or whenever the local Aguilas baseball team wins), the monument is where everyone heads to celebrate. The whole downtown area is impassable during these occasions, and it is probably wise to avoid the whole general area if you don’t want to get caught up in the chaos.

History
Designed by the architect Henry Gazón Bona and built by the dictator Rafael Liónidas Trujillo in the 1940’s, it was originally named “The Monument of Peace from Trujillo” in his own ego inflated honor. Standing 70mt (229ft) tall, it was crowned by a statue of Trujillo mounted on a horse, and the 365 stairs that lead to the top were set to represent the fact that Trujillo cared for his people every day of the year. That would seem to be a somewhat ominous message considering how he cared for them… (more…)

Santiago Centro Cultural Leon Jimenez

Santiago Cultural Center - Leon Jimenez

Art and culture lovers who are visiting or live around Santiago will find the León Jimenes Cultural Center worth visiting. An art lover myself, this is one of my favorite places to go and spend a relaxing few hours, when I have them to spare. Here’s some history and general information you may find interesting to know before you go.

Don Eduardo León Asensio Jimenes, a famous santiagueño and philanthropist, had a special penchant for encouraging growth in the visual arts, and sought in particular to contribute in the development of young artists’ talent. In harmony with this thinking, the León Jimenes Art Contest was started in 1964, in an effort to promote and exhibit the work of Dominican artists of varying ages. He also established a foundation to continue this work, and that foundation went on to construct the León Jimenes Cultural Center in 1999. (more…)

It’s a small town (60,000 inhabitants) in the central part of the Dominican Republic. It’s a place from which it is easy to get pretty much everywhere, you can take the gua-gua and in 2 hours you are in Puerto Plata, it is 2 hours to Santo Domingo, about 40 minutes to Santiago and about 3 hours to Samana.  City itself has very little to offer unless you are there in February. It’s a month of Carnival, one of the oldest Dominican traditions. (Check our website for updates and photos in February.)

If you happen to visit La Vega any other time, there are basically two things you may want to see:

  1. La Vega Cathedral

    La Vega Cathedral

    The Cathedral – it is situated next to the main park, impossible to miss. It’s a grey, concrete building, a mixture of Gothic and neo-industrial styles. Nothing impressing I am afraid.

  2. The ruins of the original city of Concepción de la Vega (now called La Vega Vieja) It was founded in 1495 by Bartolomeo Colombo at the Concepción fortress, which had been built by Christopher Columbus in 1494. When we arrived at the place we realized we were the only tourists. The entrance fee is 50 pesos. Even though the guide books say you can have a tour in different languages, the guide spoke only Spanish. He showed us the ruins of the Fransiscan monastery explaining where the library and bedrooms were. He also showed us the graves of the Taínos (pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles). He mentioned that there was a custom to bury them in a fetal position. (more…)

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