Five Things I Wish I Knew Before Traveling to the DR

1 Mudslides are real.

We had grand intentions for this country. After our journey in Punta Cana with our coaching team, we were to spend only a moment in Santo Domingo before heading to the white sandy beaches of the isolated Samaná Peninsula. We booked an Ecolodge with open air huts and farm-to-table food. Only a couple bus rides before we’d connect with our host there!

A day before our departure to Santo Domingo, though, there were these incredible rains. So much so, that even our 5-Star resort lost power for a moment. The rain showed no signs of stopping. Suddenly our raw, yet stunning ecolodge looked like a rain-drenched, mosquito-infested, damp-heat nightmare. We canceled our reservation. Our disappointment was a blessing in disguise, because as soon as we arrived in Santo Domingo, we heard from a father-daughter duo who had just returned to the South from Samaná. They had witnessed a mudslide, got off their bus, walked across the mudslide, and continued on with a different bus. I have an adventurous spirit, but I refuse to volunteer for something straight-up dangerous.

Bottom line : Mudslides are real. Always choose flexible booking and lenient cancellation policies.

2 There is a dress code.

We were walking down the city streets of Santo Domingo. There is heckling and whistling… siempre. But one day was different… This man repeated this phrase many times as he continued to interrupt my personal space more and more : “Cuando trabajas?” “Where do you work?”

Why? I was wearing shorts.

The heat index was 104 degrees Farenheit. I’d been adhering to the noticeable feminine dress code for a few days : jeans. But I just couldn’t do it any more. I was too fucking hot. Apparently he thought so too. The heckling doesn’t happen as much in the touristy areas. At this moment we were a 7min walk outside the Zona Colonial. I gave him a wave (Think #BoyBye). Kaja gave him a glare (Think #SeverusSnape). We continued on.

Bottom line : OPEN YOUR EYES. Determine what the dress code is and adjust accordingly. Try to stay inside during the heat of the day, so you’re not tempted to stray outside the lines and draw unwanted attention. BUT if it’s noon and you’re hungry and hot AF, do what you have to do, sister.

3 Toilet paper is a luxury.

There were MANY a restroom that did NOT have toilet paper. I know. Ew, right? Gross on so many levels. We ladies prefer a different definition of “Shake it out.” Lord help whoever has to go #2 in that situation. Next level gross? If there is not TP for me, then that means that there isn’t TP for everyone else on this island.

Bottom line : Bring those freaking tissue packs with you everywhere you go.

4 The Sex Trade is here.

It’s here. It’s especially here in the beach towns. You’ll be able to tell who the working girls are, and they’ll be looking for you too. It doesn’t matter if you’re gal or guy; they’ll try to see if you’re interested. We didn’t realize how big it was in Boca Chica until we arrived. I personally don’t think it’s something to be afraid of, but it’s absolutely something to be AWARE of. With prostitutes come pimps. It was very interesting seeing it play out at the disco. That crowd didn’t file in until 2am, and we immediately filed out.

Bottom line : Be aware of what’s going on in the areas around you. If you don’t feel confident passing women with these jobs in the street, then you need to stay at a resort. Usually the locals, at least from what we’ve been told of this area, are more afraid of you than you are of them. Either way, don’t be stupid. Know yourself and your limits.

5 The buses are not on island time.

Everything here really is island time. Two minutes means thirty minutes. It drives me fucking crazy, so it’s been a good test of my patience. The BUSES, however, are NOT on island time. We arrived at the bus station an hour prior to departure, and the bus was full. Something got lost in translation as our friend at the ticket counter told us that we should get on the bus and pay then. We were kicked off the bus. It wasn’t cute being stuck at a bus station in the rain in the middle of a Dominican village with gua guas surrounding us. We quickly hopped on WiFi and grabbed the closest Airbnb possible, asking our host to send us a taxi she trusted.

So how did this happen? The bus systems are REALLY popular, and they don’t take reservations. This isn’t like Europe where you show up to the train station, and you’ll definitely get a spot. Quick tips?

•Pay attention to things like national and religious holidays.

•Ask locals which bus times are the least crowded.

•Arrive at LEAST an hour prior, maybe earlier.

•NEVER try to get the last bus as your only game plan.

•If you have no other choice but to grab the last bus, have a backup plan at the ready.

Ever been to the islands? Share your story, babe!

Mad love,

J

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