Ask Mr. Nerd: The Dominican Republic
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Ask Mr. Nerd: The Dominican Republic
Travel dates: February 25-29, 2016
1. What were your initial impressions of the Dominican Republic?
My initial impression, while we were looking out of the window from the airplane, was "wow, this is gorgeous." After we got off the plane and started walking through the airport, I thought "this looks just like Jurassic Park!" quickly followed by, "it's so hot. I can't breathe!"
2. Describe the culture in three words.
Simple, laid-back, ingenious.
3. How would you describe the general atmosphere in the Dominican Republic?
The Dominican Republic seemed pretty laid back, but the locals always seemed to be doing something or going somewhere. I don't think I saw anyone from the DR relaxing on the beach or drinking their delicious Brugal rum. The interior of the country is quite poor; though it's a lovely place, I'd say the overall atmosphere outside of the resorts is one of quiet desperation and survival.
Note from Mrs. Nerd: This is an interesting answer. On the one hand, the locals were always busy but always cheery, and they greeted us with a smile and a wave as we passed them. I had several lovely conversations with people who lived nearby. Their energy was contagious! There is poverty in the DR, but if they're desperate, they don't show it. On the other hand, I talked to a tour guide who mentioned that he and his wife had worked for resorts for many years, but neither of them made enough to ever travel or even go on vacation, as they needed the money to buy food and fix up their house. It was incredibly eye-opening, especially in a place that cares for so many vacationing tourists.
4. What was your favorite part about staying in Puerto Plata?
I loved lying on the beach with access to unlimited food and drinks. There's nothing more relaxing than reading a good book (I read The Martian by Andy Weir; it was amazing) on the sand and feeling the warm ocean wind on my face.
5. What was your least favorite part about staying in Puerto Plata?
The lack of affordable access to sunscreen. (Note from Mrs. Nerd: Yes, this was pretty awful. We got terribly sunburned, and the cheapest bottle of sunscreen ran for $15-20 a pop, which was enough for maybe a day with how much time we spent in the sun.)
6. Would you recommend staying at a resort or more locally?
I would definitely recommend staying at a resort. The local area was very rough, and we were a little concerned about safety and sanitation.
7. What was the most interesting thing you noticed during your stay?
I found the way the traffic flowed—or didn't flow—the most interesting. The traffic is a total thrill ride. We were in no less than 2 close call collisions each time we got on the road (either on our tour bus or from the airport to our resort and back), and the lights and lane lines are merely suggestions. People fly by on motorcycles with two or more people on each one, sometimes carrying heavy loads, and cut in front of us several times. And yet, we never witnessed an actual accident. Very interesting.
8. What was your favorite memory on resort? How about off resort?
On the resort: My favorite memory was swimming in the ocean after having a Pina Colada.
Off the resort: I deeply enjoyed going on a whole day outing, and I specifically loved when we got to go snorkeling in a reef just off a small sand bar.
9. Would you recommend other people take a tour of the area?
Yes. It's a beautiful area with many wonders to be seen. Just be sure to bring extra sunscreen if you go on a day outing, and apply it EVERY time you go in the water. Sunscreen washes off, and the Caribbean sun is brutal.
10. What is one piece of advice you'd give someone interested in going to the DR?
Bring some cash. You don't need much, but it's good to have for tips and emergency purchases. They do take USD and other currencies. Also, make sure to bring lots of sunscreen, avoid the tap water, and consume as much rum as you can (because it's delicious).