We came to Cabrera, Dominican Republic and stayed for two weeks from late June to early July. We came with our whole family along with my daughter in law and our grandson. The below comments will be as honest as I can be. I want to say first of all that Barry and his team showed us a view of Cabrera that would have been hard to see if we came in from the cold as a regular tourist. Everything that he said he would do before we came was fully complied with. He would get an A in truth in advertising. Although we were tourists living in a rented house, we got a taste of what it would be like if we moved there. In addition to getting to know what it would be like to shop there for food, going out to restaurants and buying everyday necessities, we really got to know what counts the most in a country: the people. We developed warm friendship with Barry and Liane, Johnny, John, Denise, Willie and his family. We were provided with a driver par excellence, Milano who is just a great guy (my grandson had a special relationship with him).
Regarding food all I can say is that I was impressed. Other than two very bad days of the flu, my stomach was in great shape. Although I’m not a heavy meat and dairy eater, I found the quality of both excellent. Even though we stayed in the house for two weeks, we only had breakfast there and ate out the rest of the meals. So because most restaurants, like over here, don’t provide the most variety of vegetables, our dominant food was meat, fish, rice and plantain. All the meat we had, whether it was beef, pork or chicken tasted very fresh as though the animal was alive the same day or at the most the day before. The fish was outstanding and of course like the meet very fresh, probably caught the same day. I never had sea bass taste so good at such a reasonable price ($2‐3 a pound).
It didn’t matter where we ate; the food was always great. It could be that the food, because it is not contaminated with GMO or hormones, installed in my gut lots of good bacteria which protected the lining. As an example after a bout of two days of flu I had an immense appetite. No matter how much I ate and stuffed myself, I would not get a bloating feeling or acid reflux (unlike in the states). Oh by the way I had one of the best pizzas ever in Cabrera which pleasantly surprised me. Also I want to mention the delicious smoked crab that Barry took us to eat.
Boy I was dreaming of having that and cream cheese with Liane’s wonderful bagels. Regarding the restaurants I really loved the slow pace between ordering your food and receiving it. It bugged the hell with some, but I liked it. It makes eating out more of a social event where you can talk and bond with friends before you eat (just don’t go there starving). I loved the idea of bringing your own rum if you wanted to. There’s no manager there who will deny you the right and no corkage fees. You just bring your own rum or if you want to you can buy the restaurant’s. It’s as simple as that.
Being from southern California one of the things that disappointed me in Cabrera was the lack of variety of vegetables and grains. To be fair, however, California is a Mecca of fruit and vegetable variety. The climate in California is so varied that you can almost grow anything there. And coming from an urban area means that everything, if you can afford it, is at your fingertips. So Cabrera, like any rural area in the world, has a lot less than in an urban area in southern California. But what it does have is so much better than what you get at my city in terms of freshness and health. There’s always a give and take in life. Barry explained to me that if you drive a half hour into Sosua, two hours to Puerto Plata or three hours to Santiago, you will be able to get pretty much anything that you want. And since time in slow pace Cabrera takes on a different meaning than fast paced southern California, big deal if it takes longer. Also being a tourist I wasn’t in tune with the times that fresh vegetables are delivered so it’s possible that once I live there I will be able to obtain a lot more without driving too far.
In conclusion on the food question I didn’t agree with the typical Dominican diet that I experienced myself, heavy on animal products and starch with an over intake of sugar. They seem to put sugar in everything. However, once we move there we will just eat to how we are accustomed. We will have the freedom to eat how we want to eat.
There’s nothing much to say except beauty, beauty and more beauty. The beaches were phenomenal with bluish‐greenish water as were the off roads and rivers. My main activity would definitely be hiking and swimming when we decide to live there. I never once got tired of seeing lush green vegetation everywhere one went. I hardly scratched the surface. I can imagine feeling like a child again exploring new roads and new vistas walking or in a jeep.
One thing that hits you most is that there is not much presence of the state. You don’t see that many cops over there. And the few you see act just like any ordinary public employee without any in‐your‐face demeanor. You just feel like you can just say hello and have a chat. You just don’t see any threatening cops walking down the street with their huge batons or guns with the swagger typical of those in the US. Everything seems to be in order regardless even though you may see the occasional goofball driving down the street at night without their lights. There are no security cameras anywhere in the street except in banks so you don’t have the feeling of always being watched. You even have the freedom to wear your seat belts or not (I do because of safety concerns) so the nanny state is definitely not present. You are treated like an adult and not some child that has to be scolded by the law if you don’t behave.
I liked the creative use of public spaces for night life. No need to have an expensive liquor license if you want to open up a place to drink. No need to rip off young people with ridiculously expensive western style clubs who want to have a good time on Saturday night. Just use existing car washes for karaoke and dancing. It’s really great. Since they’re only used in the daytime, make use of them at night. It’s a great rationing of public space. Again as I mentioned above people are free to bring their own rum to the car washes. You just feel so free and
you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to have a good time.
Two recommendations to make to people considering visiting or moving to the north coast. If you’re fair complexion be sure to have lots of sun blocking lotion applied on you especially when you go to the beach. The sun is very very strong there. I have an olive complexion and I got really burned just being in the ocean for 45 minutes. Or you can wear fast drying shirts for the ocean. I also highly recommend learning Spanish if you are going to live there. You can get by without it but you miss out on developing good friendships with the locals. Spanish is probably the easiest language to learn. I know that if I lived there, within a few months my somewhat good Spanish would change to fluent.
In conclusion I personally could live there, notwithstanding the differences in climate, culture, variety of food and infrastructure. As I said before there’s a give and take in any place that you want to live compared to the US. But the positives outweigh the negatives and even the negatives will improve in the future. Your stress level will go way down, nature will beautify you, the beaches will stimulate you and the people will warm you up.