Some things about the Dominican Republic that you may not know…
The Dominican Republic is a diverse and uniquely interesting country. It’s much more than beautiful beaches and swim up bars :).
The Dominican is synonymous with baseball
Over 800,000 DR kids play organized baseball. The US professional baseball leagues boast over 100 players who originated in the Dominican Republic. Many of the world’s greatest baseball players are Dominican: David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, Miguel Tejada, Juan Marichal, and Sammy Sosa. Local baseball is like watching a professional game; the players are incredible.
From January through March, Samana Bay is home to three to five thousand humpback whales who return to give birth. The DR is a leader in environmental and sustainable tourism. Approximately 25 percent of the country’s land and coastal shores are preserved as national parks, reserves and sanctuaries. The DR also boasts the highest peak in the Caribbean (Pico Duarte reaches 10,417 feet) and also the lowest point (Lake Enriquillo exceeds 129 feet).
It’s not a small country
It’s actually pretty big! The Dominican Republic is 48,670 square kilometres. East to west (at the widest point) it is 390 km across! North to south is 265 km. I often have potential buyers visit the Punta Cana resort area and ask if we can get together to look at property for a day or two. They are very shocked when I tell the it’s between a 5-6 hour drive from Punta Cana to the north coast!
Dominicans are not just of African descent
As a result of colonialism, slavery and indentureship, most Caribbean people do have African influences in their genetic makeup. The Dominicans are no different; however, DR people are a mixture of African, Spanish, and Taino Indian!
Muñecas Limé: Faceless Dolls
The Muñecas Limé dolls can be found all over the Dominican and are made to represent the diverse ethnicity of the people – and to remind us that we are all the same :). The dolls were first created in the 1980’s but their significance gotes back to the 1500’s. The dolls often carry pots or flowers and represent the varied roles of the women of the DR.
The DR is credited with creating and developing the Merengue style of music, which is fast-paced, rhythmic dance music. It’s everywhere, from taxis to city streets. Dominicans are very proud of it and love to dance!
A Pretty Blue Stone?
The Dominican Republic is the only place in the world where the blue, semi-precious stone larimar is found. The government has begun restricting the amount exported.
Sugar, tobacco, cocoa and coffee are four of the DR’s main agricultural exports. The DR is the #1 exporter of organic cocoa in the world. Many of the world’s famous cigar manufacturers have production plants here in the DR. Dominican cigars are as good as Cuban. The Dominican Republic is known as the bread basket of the Caribbean because it grows, farms and catches almost everything that’s served for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The North Coast is also named the “Amber Coast”. Dominican amber differentiates itself from Baltic amber by being nearly always transparent, and it has a higher number of fossil inclusions. The Amber Museum in Puerto Plata houses the famous amber stone with a prehistoric mosquito preserved inside, which can be seen in the box office hit, “Jurassic Park.” Amber is a fossil tree resin found in only a few places in the world.
Mamajuana is a special DR drink that contains a combination of rum, red wine, honey, herbs and tree bark. The taste is similar to port wine and is recognized as an aphrodisiac. It is served as a complimentary liqueur after restaurant meals.
History, History, History
The DR is the oldest country of the Americas and was discovered by Christopher Columbus on his first trip in 1492. The capital city, Santo Domingo, is the site of the first Catholic cathedral, first university, and first hospital. The city of Santo Domingo was also the first seat of Spanish rule in the Americas. A visit to the Colonial Zone of this historic city is a must. This special area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A traditional lunch: The Flag (La Bandera)
Find any Dominican restaurant and you can have a typical Dominican lunch of three basic ingredients: meat (usually chicken or beef), red beans and white rice. Sometimes salad is also added. This is a staple meal here and is very tasty!
A Watersports Mecca
The north coast town of Cabarete is known as the kiteboarding capital of the world. Enthusiasts from around the world come here to experience the unique bay. Windsurfing is also a beloved sport in Cabarete. A bit further down the road at Encuentro Beach, you’ll find all the surfers! For those who want a tamer ride, stand up paddle boarding has taken off; you can do it along the rivers and on the ocean.
A Great Beer
President Beer is a national staple and served in every restaurant and resort. It is now exported to many other countries around the world.
Plantains are Not Bananas
Tostones (tos-TOE-nays), which are small, fried plantain patties, are often a side dish at meals. They are excellent and often take the place of french fries.
Us punctual North Americans find the habit of arriving late to everything very frustrating. When asked when someone is coming we say, “8 o’clock normal time or 8 o’clock Dominican time” :). It’s a slower pace of life here for sure.
Many Dominicans will point by puckering their lips in the direction or person they are referring to.
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