29 Mar Dominican Republic – 5 rumours or why travel local
I was always attracted to Caribbean countries, and once I went there I couldn´t skip destination such as Dominican Republic. I knew only little about it and therefore I started to ask Mr. Google for some tips. Majority of articles and people around advised me to stay only in resort areas, for safety reasons. Those myths what I was fed with almost discouraged me to travel. Today I´m glad, I haven´t paid much attention to it and did my trip the way I´m used to – out of turistic places.
Here we go! Sample of rumours I have been told before I landed in Dominican Republic:
1. Stay away from locals. They are dangerous and might harm you!
I´m not telling that it is not possible. As everywhere around the world, there are people with good but also bad intentions. Of course when you travel to developing countries you have to be cautious, but not deadly scared. I have to say that we were really lucky with people in Dominican Republic. Even though our Spanish is pretty bad they were always willing to help us and treat us very well. I never observed any harmful behavior from their side. As far as you follow rules of the country, for example:
don´t walk trough dark streets at midnight or don´t look like owner of biggest jewelry store, people have no reason to harm you. However, you need to bear in mind that you are in developing world, so more you look like rich German senior, more attention you get. Especially of shopkeepers or baggers, who will try to get some money from you. That’s another situation in which contact with locals can save you from those annoying merchants.
2. For your own safety, stay in hotel resort! Otherwise, they will rob you!
This sounds a bit odd to me. Let´s just think. Why they would want to harm you, when you are the one who bring them money? While on other side, when you stay in the resort, all the money are leaking out from the country and locals don´t benefit at all. I believe, that if one comes to another country to enjoy its beauty, he should leave something behind for benefit of locals. Only people who profit from tourists in that case are European or American owners of such hotels. My recommendation is therefore opposite. If you want to fully enjoy your holiday and have an authentic experience, stay away from resorts and visit locals. They know area the best and showed us so many hidden places, we would be never able to find ourselves. Also stunning was their familial approach. Like one lady that showed us the fully packed fridge with local food with words: feel like at home.
3. Pay attention where you eat. Don´t eat street food or in local cafes!
Of course hygienic standards are different as in Europe, and one need to understand this before travelling to such country. Even though we were a bit afraid to try street food first, we had no other option, when we were in the middle of nowhere and hungry as hell. Since that moment we were only looking for local cafes and restaurants. That food was just delicious and I have to admit that people from Dominican Republic really know how to mix flavors. I will never forget the taste of gratin from green banana and papaya. After dining as local I was really disappointed with touristic restaurants there. Not only food was less tasty but also prices were much higher. We didn´t experience any disease, but of course it is always wise to be cautious in such countries. Avoid drinking tap water and wash your hands, but don´t be over suspicious.
4. It is dangerous to drive in Dominican Republic. Think twice if you want to rent a car without driver!
Ok with this statement I do agree partly. Yes I have to admit, that it is an adrenaline activity to drive in Dominican Republic. Roads are in terrible conditions, people drive as crazy (I bet majority of them had no driving license) and getting stuck in the middle of traffic jam, might cause you trauma. Once I almost left the car in the middle of traffic and wanted to run away. But, still it was part of an experience and I can´t even count how many times I freak out when someone was driving in opposite direction without the lights on. We were three girls and we survived. So it can´t be that tough, right? Actually, now after experiencing traffic in India, I would say, that it was enjoyable ride 🙂 Just make sure you get full insurance and car with higher spoiler, because roads are really bumpy. However, if you don´t feels like rent a car, there are local busses but you won´t be as flexible and also keep in mind, that you can´t 100% count on it.
5. Try to avoid parts close to Haiti. Even higher danger!
Now when I look back and think about our experience it makes me smile. I remember the day when we decided to explore boarders of Haiti. When we were driving, we were even afraid to open the window or buy the fruit from locals, because we didn´t want to get any disease (as malaria or cholera). Just an hour later we took 3 local hitchhikers who were squeezing on the back seat with my sister. Now I´m glad we took them, because they showed us incredible lagoon, where tourists don´t come at all. We enjoyed whole day there and guess what? Good news, we didn´t get any disease.
So, ladies and gentlemen. Now is the time to go beyond gate of all inclusive hotels and enjoy real vibes of Dominican Republic. I bet, that you will never regret it and you will be even surprised how much this country has to offer. Just don´t forget: If you go with open heart, people will be open with you!