This week we are staying in Jarabacoa. This small mountain village is not as small as it used to be when I would visit as a child. Now it has grown into a large, popular town. It’s eco-tourism and outdoor attractions are thriving, bringing in visitors from all parts of the world, especially Europe and the United States. My family and I are getting to stay in the house of my mom’s cousin, Guilla. Her and her three kids were the relatives and family that we had living closest to us during my childhood in Florida. Now Guilla lives again in Jarabacoa, where she grew up with my mom, and she paints and makes handmade soaps, all of which she sells from her beautiful Spanish home that she rebuilt herself.
If you have the chance to visit the Dominican Republic, I would suggest setting aside a few days to visit and stay in Jarabacoa. You can make it on your way from the capital city to less-frequented beaches on the north shore, like Sosua and Puerto Plata. For an adventure, you can continue along the coast from there, further to the north-eastern peninsula, enjoyig places along the way such as Cabarete (world-famous for wind-surfing), Las Terrenas, and Samana. After spending weeks in the busy and boisterously loud capital city of Santo Domingo, being in the mountains is soothing. While there are still the loud sounds, always typical of Latin cultures I believe, floating on the wind from town, it is relatively quiet and peaceful. It is also much cooler, although the mid-day heat can still be intense. This is why in the afternoons, we lounge on the front porch in the shade of the patio, enjoying the breeze and homemade rum cocktails as relief from the humid heat.
The surrounding countryside, called el campo in Spanish, is becoming a destination hot-spot for Dominicans from the Capitol City and other parts of island. This means that you can find a beautiful array of large, splendid homes large enough to house one, two, or more families. I visited one such house earlier this week with my friend Alma Olalla. She can coordinate an absolute dream-of-a-vacation for you and your friends and family in this tropical mountain paradise. The quiet and expansive vistas are the perfect place for relaxation, while just further down one of the mountain roads is the locally renowned Salto de Jimenoa, a splendidly refreshing and stunning waterfall with a large swimming hole to enjoy.
We’ve walked into town to buy avocados and fresh-baked bread, to visit our family and friends who live here, and to enjoy the swimming pool at the local the country club just up the street from us. More than anything, though, we have shared dinners with Guilla and her brothers and family. One night we ate at her brother Eli’s house, feasting on an authentic meal of sancocho, a traditional Dominican soup that can be served over rice. After eating we played guitars and sang, enjoying the rising full moon that appeared from behind the mountains on the other side of the valley. Down below our little hill-top, the lights of the town shone white and yellow, almost blending in with the large fireflies that were flying around us and in the tall grasses nearby. Now this is the way to really have a beautiful and authentic Dominican experience. If you don’t have family here, yes, your experience may be different, but just be open to making friends with the locals and I can bet you can enjoy such experiences as well.
To enjoy more photos of my time in Jarabacoa, enjoy my online photo album: Tropical Mountain Time in Jarabacoa