Tuesday, July 10, 2007

first day of program


I have been travelling to Dominican Republic since 1976 and have made more than 15 trips during that time ranging in duration from 3 weeks to 6 months. In that time drastic political and economic changes have occurred. The country went from being led by Balaguer for a 20 year period to a series of elected presidents.
When I first visited some of the two way main roads were narrow and made of dirt in some places. These roads have become 3 lane highways in each direction. The capital had one main mall (Plaza Naco) consisting of about 12 shops. Currently there are about 6 malls to rival any one that you would see in Florida. Lastly, for the American traveler there are a slew of fast food chains such as McDonalds, Pissa Hut, KFC, Baskin Robins, etc. The industry has also exploded increasing from a few hotels in Puerto Plata to a strip of hotels in the entire region including Sosua and Cabarete. Many people would agree that the country has advanced by western standards.
Yet with all this advancement Punta Cana still seems to be another world and not a location in Dominican Republic. As when enters the resort and sees the facilities it feels as if you should be seeing this on TV with Robin Leach. Unlike other tourist hotels in Dominican Republic, Punta Cana is not an all inclusive and all the menus have prices in dollars, which is very strange for a country that only accepts pesos wherever you may go. At other beaches you will encounter many Dominicans enjoying their country. Most of the Dominicans at Punta Cana resort belong to the staff. To be able to get any type of Dominican dishes you have to make a 30-45 minute drive to the closest town (Beron). Even though Punta Cana is very peaceful and tranquil, it lacks the festive nature and vibrance (la chispa) of the people that inhabit this island. Punta Cana seems to be more a place for a megastar that want to get away from the papparazzi and hide away for a week or two.

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