Orestes is a local who hosted me during my visit to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. I enjoyed the enlightening experience of seeing the city and learning about his country through a local’s eyes.
There are many wonderful travel guides. My personal favorites are the DK Eyewitness Guides. Full of beautiful images, they paint a picture of why you might want to see and experience the many beautiful parts of the world. I also find Lonely Planet guides particularly useful. Although they are not as graphical, they are full of detailed information that you really ought to know when going to a new place. Travel guides are becoming increasingly popular in the form of mobile apps for smart phones and iPods lightening the loads in our backpacks. Travel magazines like my favorite National Geographic Travel, are another great source of ideas and snippets of useful information.
Despite all of the wonderful resources available, the best travel guide is a local. Well-informed locals who wants to help travelers to experience the places they call home are the best sources of travel knowledge. Not every local desires to help or knows the information that travelers need. The trick is finding and learning from those who do.
Santo Domingo is regarded as the first city of the New World and served as the headquarters for the above pictured Christopher Columbus and the Spanish conquistadors.
Here I am seated on the walls of the old city of Santo Domingo and I am in awe. I feel this way for a number of reasons but first, because this is where life in North America started for Europeans. Although the Dominican Republic was not the first place Christopher Columbus landed, he did arrive here on his first trip in 1492. It was also the home of one of the early Spanish settlements and its first city, Santo Domingo, became the first capital of the New World. It is a land with a rich history.
Another reason I am in awe is because of the way that life here is lived among and upon these historical places. From where I am seated at the moment I am looking across a plaza at the old Spanish Palace of the Royal Audience. Last evening there were couples seated among the turrets here on the walls and enjoying each other’s company. In that moment I saw something new being shared among something old. The old walls supported new love.
We are familiar with the expression “You have to go where the wind takes you.” This is a sailing metaphor which as a sailboat owner I can confirm makes a lot of sense. You may have a destination in mind but your not going to be able to go directly to it under wind power. When you set out to go sailing you don’t really know what kind of route it will take to get to your destination. The wind determines that and the wind changes.
The other day while enjoying the waves at Juan Dolio beach in the Dominican Republic I realized that this metaphor also applies to the surf. When you step into the ocean you agree to go where the surf takes you. You can fight the waves but as one wave after another pushes you around you realize that you have entered into a force far larger and more powerful than yourself.