Monthly Archives: December 2009

Mystery Stroll

Today, I present you with a beautiful mystery snapshot taken by the wonderful Lisa A. This will be the last mystery snapshot of 2009, so give it your best! Just so that we’re all clear, I’m looking for MANY MORE mystery snapshots, travel stories, travel discussion topics, and travel tips… from YOU.  Send ideas and photos to: travelswithtavel@gmail.com. Let’s make 2010 the most wanderlusty year yet, full of both wandering AND lust! Oh and see that little tab on the top right of the screen where you can sign up for an email subscription? Why don’t you go ahead and do that so I can stop harassing everyone on Facebook with my blog updates.

Now, back to the mystery snapshot.

Tell me where this is – the country, region, island, continent, exact spot… Whatever you’ve got! Then tell me why you think that, and any other comments/reflections you have about the image.

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Cabbin’ It In Cabarete

I had been to the Dominican Republic once before, but back then I was still learning how to really be in a new place. I was a senior in high school on spring break and went with five of my best girlfriends to a large all-inclusive resort called the Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort in Punta Cana. Unfortunately, as became a trend for me during tropical vacations, we were accompanied by a hurricane, which prevented us from touching the ocean and turned our five-day trip into one soggy blur of tropical drinks and thunder. But of course, we made the most of it and came back with plenty of stories too inappropriate to share in a blog almost ten years later.

Beach, Cabarete, Dominican RepublicThis time (a few weeks ago), I was traveling to the Dominican Republic under totally different circumstances. Within a few hours of being invited by my old roommate to Cabarete, where she would be spending the last week of a five-month ’round-the-world trip alone kite surfing, I had purchased flights. Six days later, I was cabbing it to the airport in the heavy grey light of East Coast winter. Less than four airborne hours later I was in the golden sunshine of Puerto Plata’s eternal summer, in search of a cab to complete the journey.

In just four hours, you can go from the dead of winter to the dead of summer. Four hours — that’s NOTHING! (Remind me why I don’t do this more often?!) I got in the cab sweating bullets from the quick transition, took off my inappropriately warm socks, stuffed my fleece into a bag, and savored the soft air on my exposed toes… Ahhhh, instant BLISS.

Cabarete, Dominican RepublicWe sped down what felt like the only highway in town — a rough highway-meets-dirt-road full of scattered rocks, patches of dirt, and potholes. A colonnade of palm trees shaded the journey as motorbikes buzzed around the cab like bees, taking uniformed children to school and husbands/wives/boyfriends/girlfriends to work. Some had three or four people stacked behind the driver, with not a helmet in sight. Little did I know, this would be how I headed to dinner later on. Motoconchos or guaguas, as they are called, line up along the streets waiting to give people a cheap lift into town. For my first night in Cabarete, Meghan and I decided to head into the main section of town for dinner. The second we exited the hotel, two or three Dominican guys were cutting across the road on worn-down motorbikes asking if we wanted a ride. I looked at Meghan, who seemed completely unfazed, and before I knew it, I had my arms and legs wrapped around a sweaty Dominican man, with Meghan holding on behind me. We zipped in the darkness around the rugged roads, along 10-ft drops, swerving between drunk drivers in what becomes a free-for-all of motorbikes and cars. I’m not gonna lie… I was NERVOUS! But, I guess, when in Rome…

I chatted with the cab driver, something I always do as a first step transitioning from English to Spanish-mode in a Spanish-speaking country. I always find that they are very excited to talk about how wonderful their country is, and I’ll talk about pretty much anything as long as it’s in Spanish. With the windows  rolled down and merengue swirling around me with the breeze, I let the Dominican Republic take over. That is the moment I look forward to every trip, the moment when an uncontrollable smile drips off my face like honey and my heart flutters in disbelief that so many beautiful things and places are just a few clicks (more than a few dollars) and a plane ride away…

Early morning. Cabarete, Dominican RepublicSeveral minutes into the ride, Spanish was  rolling off my tongue with less effort. I sat in the rickety cab, beaming as I savored the flashes of blue ocean that appeared between palm trees on this perfectly Dominican day.

I hadn’t even touched the sand yet, but from the front seat of that first cab ride, I was already long gone in the waves of Cabarete…

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2010 Travel Wish List

With the end of 2009 approaching, I would like all of you to take a moment and think about your travel hopes and dreams for 2010. For me, 2009 started in the Caribbean (St. Maarten) and ended in the Caribbean (Dominican Republic). But what a journey it was in between! And I don’t just mean geographically…

This week, I’d like all of you to share your travel wish list for 2010. It can be as many things as you’d like. Tell us where you want to go, why you want to go there, what you want to check off the bucket list, if you have any particular travel goals or dream destinations, if there is a certain activity you want to participate in (a mountain to climb, a race to win, a carnival to see), and then… tell us your FAVORITE trip or travel moment of 2009.

One of my recurring travel goals (echem, fantasies)  is to go horseback riding on the beach any and every chance I get. One week ago today, that is exactly what I did on a pristine beach in the Dominican Republic. I cannot explain why, but when I am galloping down an empty beach in another country, on a horse that is going as fast as I can possibly make it, I know that I am living my dream; I am absolutely, purely HAPPY. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

CHEERS, to living the dream in 2010.

Cabarete, Dominican Republic

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Berlin Art

Great guesses, people! I loved these responses: “That’s what it looks like behind my fridge…Has to be CA” (Ursula), “…looking through floor grates at a woman practicing flamenco” (Missy), “My guess is Europe otherwise I’m stymied”(Geordie), “The Red Light District in Amsterdam” (Susana), and “It looks like a woman being swallowed up or crushed by chords…Yet she’s smiling” (Jessi). Sometimes it’s interesting to just throw a very abstract image out there and leave it up to the viewer to make something out of it (or not). You all saw a different story. Isn’t that what art is all about? Well, that’s a whole other discussion entirely…

I’m not going to congratulate specific people but rather thank all of you who took a stab at this one. Here is Marie’s explanation of the photograph:

“This is a photo taken in Berlin this past May. It was at a guerilla art event in an abandoned bathhouse’s basement. There were galleries and exhibits all through this vast cavernous space. In one alcove was a grated floor. Below was this woman dressed up as part of the pipes. She was writhing on the floor while people standing on the grate looked down and watched her performance. She actually has gallery representation (although nothing tangible to sell). No one will ever guess. You had to be there.”

Thank you to Marie for sharing this unique shot and contributing to Travels with Tavel! I’m looking for more mystery snapshot contributors so pass yours along!

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Up For Interpretation

This week’s photo comes to us from the wonderful Marie Greener.

Rather than trying to guess the exact location of this photograph, perhaps you can try to interpret it

What is going on here? What do you see? Feel free to guess the country, too. And IT’S OK TO BE WRONG! Guess away…

Marie Mystery Snap

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