We spent over three months in the Dominican Republic: long enough to get a real flavor of the country and to explore it pretty widely. By the time we left, I felt it was a place where I could happily live, but in which I would hate to have to do any serious business. The country, and the people, are just lovely. So let’s start with that!
We spent most of our time in the Dominican Republic (DR) based in Luperon. This small town, famous as a haven from hurricanes, was a safe and secure base for us. We felt completely confident leaving the boat there to explore the island and even to return to the US for a visit. Even as Hurricane Matthew passed close by, we never experienced winds over 30 knots in the harbor. The “Boat Boys” make it easy to live in the harbor there, providing excellent security and all manner of services to boaters in the harbor: water, fuel, laundry, boat cleaning, moorings, etc. We used the services of both Papo and Handy Andy, and found each had their strong points. Also – FYI, don’t misunderstand the term “boat boys”, these guys are respected businessmen and pillars of the community.
The people we met there, whether cruiser, expat, or local, were welcoming and friendly – always ready to give advice or show us a favorite place. The locals indulged our barely intelligible Spanish with warm smiles and occasional friendly corrections. I never felt like they were annoyed, and, to a one, they graciously tried to help us find what we were looking for – even when we didn’t know how to say it!
Sure, Luperon has some downsides: The water is dirty here; you wouldn’t want to swim in it and no one does on purpose. It is one of the loudest places I’ve ever been, with constant music competing for your attention from places across the street from one another. Trucks blaring advertising from huge speakers mounted on top and motorcycles racing by constantly interrupt conversations. The town is far from picture perfect. Grimy might be a good way to describe it, but somehow it all adds up to a pretty cool place. Luperon also possesses a large share of beauty and dignity. I found I could wander around endlessly taking random photos. As you can see!
As with any place, it’s really the people who make it special, and Luperon did not disappoint on that front. I’ve written previously about the baseball games Alan enjoyed there; the Dominicans are serious about their “beisbol” but were hospitable enough to always take it easy on the gringos. We met bartenders, shop owners, officials, kids, teachers, lawyers… each one as gracious as the last. It’s a very warm and welcoming culture. We managed to find ways to get involved with the community to make a positive and lasting impact, hopefully repaying a bit of the hospitality we enjoyed there.
The cruisers there were equally welcoming. Suzanne and Veronique taught yoga classes from the veranda of an abandoned marina that were a wonderful addition to our lives. Norm – the owner of Wendy’s Bar – really looks out for the interests of the cruisers. Fran, Dave,Wendy, Andrew, Cliff, et al were all smiles and advice for us newbies.
Some of the cruisers we met there left Luperon at the same time we did and are on their way south.
We keep track of one another loosely. It’s like we’re playing a protracted game of tag with Sarah and George on Mirador, Mike and Marjolaine on Basta, Leandro on Alaussa, Daniel and John on Arcturus, and Peter and Lee on Notre Voyage. I look forward to seeing them all in other beautiful places and will always smile when I see their boats in port!
So that’s a little taste of some of the good parts, tune in next time for some of the not so good, namely, checking in and out of the country through an ever-changing maze of officials and regulations.