Jessica Perkins on Voluntourism in the Dominican Republic

Posted By : travelshore/ 19 0

Being a university student I always wanted to go travel to another country and do a volunteer project. Throughout my studies in Physical Geography, I became very fascinated with the Caribbean and saw it as the perfect place to go on a volunteer trip. After a lot of searching, I decided to go with a student only project in the Dominican Republic that incorporated learning Spanish, working in a small village both building and teaching kids, and also an adventure portion. A well-rounded program that would give a raw insight into the countries culture, natural environment, and charm. Turns out this was one of the best experiences I had ever gone on and was an eye-opening, life-changing experience.

Getting to volunteer in the village for a couple weeks really let me get to know the children and families in the village. Throughout the volunteer project, we helped build a wall and sidewalk to the elementary school in the mornings and taught the children about how to be environmentally sustainable citizens in the afternoons. The people in this small village were incredibly friendly and invited us into their culture with open arms, always inviting us to the domino and meringue dance nights at ones’ house or on an afternoon hike to a secret swimming hole. Immersing yourself in a culture like this is truly the best way to understand another way of life. It really draws the line between going on vacation and being a traveler. It forces you out of your comfort zone and keeps you on your toes and ultimately gives you an incomparable experience than staying in a fancy 5-star resort could never do.

This program also incorporated some adventure on the weekends and after the volunteer portion was over. Everything from zip lining to caving and windsurfing. All in the stunning nature of the Dominican Republic. Some highlights included Diamond Beach, Los Haitises National Park, Laguna Du Du Park and of course, sipping pina coladas in fresh pineapples. The rich history of the country was also fascinating learned through walking tours of cities like Santa Domingo and Santiago. Spending 6 weeks in The Dominican Republic also helped my Spanish, by the end of the trip I felt comfortable to walk into markets and practice my Spanish in a real environment.

If I had spent more time I am sure it would have become even more natural. By the end of the trip, I didn’t want to leave but had to leave a day late due to a hurricane and flight delays which seemed like a blessing and curse all at once. All in all, I would recommend heading to the Dominican Republic with a company like Travelshore to guarantee an ultimate well-rounded experience of adventure, culture, volunteering, and any other surprises the vibrant country has to offer. You can’t beat a trip led by locals who know the country and the secret spots better than any traveler would.

You have not been to the Dominican Republic if you never left the resort

Posted By : travelshore/ 18 0

After spending 4 months in the Dominican Republic and traveling to every corner of the country, visiting as many beaches as possible, sleeping in some rusty motels, I believe that I can honestly say “I have been to the Dominican Republic”.

I was fortunate to the opportunity to have;  tasted the traditional-style cooking, mingled with locals, tried new sports such as; kite-surfing, zip-lined in the jungle, jumped into natural pools of water, hiked through caves, enjoyed local festivals, explored the mountainous villages, snorkeled amongst the reefs, travelled by local transportation such as; guagua’s (large caravans), cars, vans, pickup trucks – packed with as many people as possible, buses, taxis and motorcycles, I can’t forget -speedboats, practiced my Spanish, slept in Dominican-style motels with nada-inclusive anything, enjoyed the entertainment of local musicians and traditional bachata and merengue music playing from loudspeakers built into vehicles and storefronts everywhere!

As I was leaving to head home from my fun-filled adventurous trip, I was in line at the airport with my family, chatting with a few other travelers, I asked them, ‘How did you enjoy your trip to the Dominican Republic?’. With an unhappy face, they replied, ‘The entertainment at the hotel was not that great.’ They had stayed at one of the most popular well-known all-inclusive resorts. I asked them if they had a chance to leave the resort, but they did not.

So their only experience of Dominican Republic was all based on what they had done while staying at the resort.

Don’t get me wrong, I am sure that the pools are great with servers at your side offering refreshing cool drinks, food is delicious with a large fabulous buffet and a fancy air-conditioned room with fluffy clean white sheets and pillows, not a mosquito in sight, friendly 24-hour maids at your service and a beautiful private beach where only guests have the pleasure to enjoy while relaxing on a long beach chair. I am sure you can imagine a few other fine luxuries while staying on the resort.

You may be one of the travelers who only enjoy what is offered at the resort, possibly you are a bit timid to explore what is beyond -Or- you just have no idea what else is offered in this mysteriously beautiful country. Whatever the reason may be, I really hope that each person could have an opportunity to enjoy some Dominican-local time! The people are so friendly, charming personalities that will welcome you with a smile!

When I came home, my Canadian family thought I was so brave for visiting all of these places. I don’t feel brave but I am not scared of people. Most people are good. Of course, it is always important to keep your valuables locked up, take only the amount of cash needed for the day(no need for credit cards either), be friendly, support local gift shops, practice a little Spanish and give a little extra tip to your driver! You will make so many friends and don’t go wandering off in no-man’s land. Always listen to your intuition and I promise you will have an enjoyable adventure!c_column_text]I have truly enjoyed meeting some of the most lovely Dominican people. They made me feel so safe and they really go out of their way to make you feel at home! I already miss the clean beaches and local faces! We will definitely go back and hopefully for much longer!

I have truly enjoyed meeting some of the most lovely Dominican people. They made me feel so safe and they really go out of their way to make you feel at home! I already miss the clean beaches and local faces! We will definitely go back and hopefully for much longer!

I invite you to find out more information about traveling to the Dominican Republic at travelshorecentre.com!