This is written to you Barry and Liane with special emphasis towards Jose, Louis, Claude and Marie Josee, Johnny, Willie, Dr. Brea and so many others. We (Sandy and I ) have talked and talked about this trip almost every day to reinforce our memories of that time we would not forget that experience. You took us on a beaches tour one day; we visited Playa Preciosa . Sandy and I agree, our time with you was precious.
Your attention and consideration were and are beyond compare.
Sandy and I have discussed the apparent and obvious differences of the respective cultures, the cooperation of people living their life, the idea of community, the obvious lack of duress and stress, the fresh foods (wow, the foods are supreme). Yes, we were on “vacation”, so to speak, but not really…
Just a touch of background about Sandy and I. We are from the Appalachian region of North Carolina.
The mountainous area of this region has a “hard-scrabble” reputation. There is a phrase here that is still commonly used: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without “. Not saying that technology is not good, nor that there are not better ways to do things. However, the dependence on one’s capabilities and self-sustainability should not be dismissed as unimportant. This is something both Sandy and I appreciated from early on about the DR and as Sandy and I have both seen it seems to be a common trait of both cultures.
We were not really on vacation….
I first came to the Dominican Republic of the year 2011. I had been reading about “Medical Tourism” for some time as he needed some dental work. I looked for some opportunities in the DR and stumbled upon Puerto Plata and a dentist who had a good reputation. This reputation consisted of contacting others who had been there, and I contacted them via email. This experience turned out quite well. I visited this dentist three times in three days. Imagine that! In the United States (unless it was an emergency), that visit would have been once a month for three months. Long story short: It cost us quite a bit less money, I had better service, and the Dr. did not use mercury amalgam. BTW he spoke quite good English. Good for me, as I cannot understand the ‘rapid-fire espanol’.
“He wanted to go back to the DR… for more dental work? No, because He liked to be there”.
Sandy came with me the next time. This time we were on vacation. Sandy could not believe the beauty of the land and the ocean. People were nice to us (this is not usual were we live, unfortunately). We loved the food, we were learning: ‘yo comprendo un poco espanol’. (but we were learning and were considering a move.
Then, we came back to ‘vacation’ five more times averaging once every six months. We could not wait to get back to the DR.
One day I was home and just a wee bit sick of a respiratory problem. I didn’t want to focus on books and paper articles (I read a lot, or have read a lot).
So, why did we say we were not on vacation? Because we wanted a better life and we were looking for something better, better for us that is. What did we see? Did we see more TV channels, more digital experience, more WI-Fi ? No, we saw more life, more living of life. We saw more passion, more care as a possibility in the DR. Mostly, we saw an opportunity to live. TO LIVE!
We had ruled out several countries: Bryan had been to Guatemala, had looked at Ireland, been in Mexico. We had both looked at other countries…. Israel, Greece…….. wow, and no. Panama, Bolivia, Costa Rica, no way.
Bryan and I had never considered an island nation. We were wary of the notion of not being able to be comfortable with the notion of nowhere else to go.
Now we laugh. If we lived in Columbia, were would we be able to go? So, what’s the difference? Except, except, except that we might have the freedom to grow food, have water, and live life and have love, friends and people who care.
There have too many changes in Columbia, Panama and others. Sustainability and stability seem to go hand-in-hand.
BTW, a ‘law’ has been passed in this NC state, just as an example:
Growing your Local Food Business in North Carolina. Getting Started
Business and tax issues are important to any farm and food business, no matter how small-scale.
“One must understand whether it is necessary to register a business with a state or municipality and how and when to pay the required income, sales, and property taxes…..
this section introduces resources that are available to assist in navigating these requirements.”
So much for the “liberty gardens” of our parents generation.
When Bryan was home for a few days with his respiratory problems, he was biding time and looking at the internet for more information on the Dominican Republic. That’s the day he found the scoundrel, Barry, at DREscapes. Sandy was coming home from a temporary job for a mutual friend in the oil business…
Bryan: “Sandy, you gotta see this!… This guy does Tours along the North Coast of the Dominican Republic. That’s just the area we have been wanting to see!”. “Look at all of these videos and articles!”
“He thinks like we do”. “we oughta sign up with this guy”. But, we were both cautious, too many times we had seen “too good to be true”.
We stayed in one of our favorite places near Cofresi for four nights. Then we were to meet Barry at Puerto Plata airport and continued our stay in the DR. We met Barry at the airport in Puerto Plata. Only now, we were trusting Barry to do what he said he would do and what we said we would do… no contract, just trust. Not the Gringo style heh? Just trust and a mutual word of promise and voluntary agreement.
Barry did not let us down. And to this day I pray that we did not let Barry down in his expectations.
So, Sandy and I shook hands with Barry, climbed into his Toyota and headed South and East along the “Interstate 5”. I believe I can speak for Sandy when I say that our hearts were high. Barry had arranged for us a place to stay. Indeed, it turned out to be quite a nice accommodation. It was reasonable in price, clean, well appointed and comfortable. We settled in knowing that we had a dinner date with Barry and Liane. Though a bit tired from that days activities, we were all to happy to take victuals with out new acquaintances. What a nice ice breaker, what a nice (exceptional) meal. What congeniality. We will never forget that day.
I have been scared out of my skivvies in several places, Tel Aviv for one, at two o’clock in the morning. Customs and passports were a nightmare if only because of the long lines and having no clue of the language. Mexico City was not so conducive to entry either, though I arrived by bus. None of those places (and more) scared me more than Chicago or NYC or L.A. (Do not leave the hotel…) Those days are long gone. Who likes to be abused? Who likes to be bullied? Who cares to be scared for nothing? Sadly, this is now common.
I am tired. Need I say more.
This culture, the culture of my hearth and home has no raison d’être, n’est pas? The feigns and offenses and feints and obfuscations are now effete. Who might not see these untruths that one might be assailed with on a daily basis? There is no representative of truthful media, is there? No.
So, would you care to know about our experiences in the DR with Barry?
We have seen chocolate made from the cacao, it’s delicious, best chocolate we’ve ever had. The accommodations were excellent, the weather was great, met many very nice people, (short note here, so many people were people we wanted to get to know better, we enjoyed their company and conversation so much). The beef was superlative, as was the chicken, and fish. The vegetables were so fresh and natural, not to mention delicious. If you like food, this country is great. Barry took us just about anywhere we cared to go. Always accommodating our wants, desires and needs.
We cannot speak highly enough of our experiences with Barry, Liane and the others mentioned previously (and others not mentioned).
Is this what you need to know?
I’m sorry, but our feelings run much deeper. And, strangely, difficult to express in words. You have to see it to believe it.
But you wanna know what?
“It ain’t what ya get…. I’ts what ya give”.
In my opinion, this culture has an open heart to people who want to live and let live. Passion is to see in the musica and grace. It’s just too easy to see, unless your heart is hard. If so, maybe this is not the place for you.
I’ll not bore anyone with abstract ideas (or ideologies) of what I believe or think. As Barry has said, not any one place is for everybody.
I was surprised… I never intended to chose the DR. It chose me. Come to the DR, meet Barry, meet people who live love and laugh. Decide for yourself.
I am reminded of an old musical from the musical Broadway ‘Cabaret’… (Cabrera)
“Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome!
Fremde, etranger, stranger.
Gluklich zu sehen, je suis enchante,
Happy to see you, bleibe, reste, stay.
Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome
Im Cabrera, au Cabrera, to Cabrera!”
O.K., so I changed Cabaret to Cabrera….
Sandy and Bryan