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.
This 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.
We 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…
Several 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…
5 responses to “Cabbin’ It In Cabarete”
WOW! Rachel, reading that made me feel like I was there! Thanks for the wonderful experience.
Keep it coming 🙂
I especially liked this part: “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…”
Yup, I know that feeling. Looking forward to the next installment.
I LOVED Cabarete. If I were to return to the DR I would definitely stay a few days there. Love your writing!
Awe… Thank you so much!! I love yours too, and your beautiful photos!! LOVE the DR. And soooo close to NYC!
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