Planning for the DR
When my boyfriend mentioned the idea of taking an October vacation to the Caribbean, I began planning straight away. I’m from Southern California, and even the mild Seattle autumn is enough to leave me dreaming of beaches lined with coconut trees and azure water lapping at white sand. I was ready to shed my Northface fleece and unpack my bikini from storage.
We chose the Dominican Republic because it’s known from its gorgeous beaches, but is cheaper and less touristy than other countries in the Caribbean. Planning for the trip meant research for me. I knew exactly what I had in mind when I pictured myself on vacation – up close and personal with the people, the culture and the beauty of the DR and far, far away from anything resembling a Club Med. This proved to be a bit more difficult than I originally thought. Most of the guidebooks I purchased exclusively featured the all-inclusive, resort route for trips to the DR, and I knew nobody who had actually visited the country. Eventually, I spoke with a co-worker whose friend had been married in the DR and she recommended the mellow beach town of Las Galeras, a small community near an extremely isolated and breath-taking beach called Playa Rincon. We were set.
Now, with less than a week before our trip, I find it difficult to concentrate on anything beyond Google-ing pictures of the DR. We have managed to make adequate preparations though, like booking a hotel (something I’ve been told is recommended, even when traveling in the off-season like we are). We have also researched various aspects of our trip, like renting a car and scuba-diving, and discussed the pros and cons of each (both can be risky in the Dominican Republic – any sort of automobile accident can put you in jail, and there are no recompression chambers or emergency medical service provided for evacuating a diver in need of help in all of Hispaniola). We have also ensured that we are up-to-date on our shots, especially Hepatitis A and B.
I find packing for any trip exciting (“I’ll need my bathing suit for the BEACH! I’ll need a sundress for the MERINGUE FESTIVAL!”) but there are a few less interesting items we are making sure to bring with us. Sunscreen is a must for me (my nickname was “Powder” as a kid…) and we’ve been told that mosquitoes are rampant in many areas, so bug repellent is necessary too. We will be flying into Santo Domingo, a city that receives rainfall year-round, so my umbrella will be coming from Seattle with me.
Before I sit on my suitcase and pray for it to zip up, I will also be sure to include my journal and my camera, two of the most important things to bring on any trip I take (besides my passport and my Green card!). I’m sure this will be a trip I will want to document and remember for a long time to come.