This was my 40th trip in my almost 20 years of traveling to the Dominican Republic.
I started out taking Caribe tours to Barahona and returning to Hotel Casa Bonita in Bahoruco for my 3rd time. The water from the rivers is a bit cooler in the winter and there were less tourists-at night I needed to wear a long sleeve shirt for the cool evenings.
The area is as gorgeous as ever. In the past few months the people have been busy collecting stones that they will sell. The stones had been swept down from the river to the beach due to the major rain storm that occurred a few months ago.
I spent 3 days with friends finding people in the area to give out photographs that I had taken from my previous time there.
Then it was off to Club Dominicus Beach Hotel in Bayahibe to relax for a few days. That hotel was the first in the Bayahibe area and I would still highly recommend it. Great white sand beach, tranquil water, really good food, and a great disco and pizzeria.
On the 27th of February, Independence Day, I went to La Romana to photograph their celebration which included many colorful costumed celebrants walking about in the Parque Central.
Now I was ready for my main goal, which was to photograph Carnaval in Santo Domingo. I had already photographed Carnaval in La Vega, Santiago, Monte Cristi, Bonao, Puerto Plata, San Pedro de Macoris, & Guayacanes. All were different and I had a great time photographing each of them.
The main difference of the Santo Domingo Carnaval is that the best costumes from many parts of the country all come together to parade down the malecon.
Before arriving I was warned to be very careful of pickpockets and other thieves working the parade so I took the proper precautions-kind of like walking in a crowd here in NYC.
The parade started about 3:30 pm and was still going strong in the early evening.
There was a large police presence and I did not feel in danger at any time.
I got there a few hours early to search for the best viewing spots. I spent most of the time near the Obelisk as it is wide open there. There were a few restaurants open to eat lunch. Many vendors were arriving in the time just before the parade and I could feel the energy building. Children were flying their kites, large speakers blared great music, including energetic Merengue Mambo and Haitian gaga music.
I was with a Dominican friend of mine and we were granted access to photograph the parade alongside the marchers and participants.
The quantity and variety of costumes was amazing.
There were large groups of people with lazo fuertes (from Monte Cristi) and when they all snapped their whips it sounded as if hundreds of fireworks were going off.
I was also amazed to see a small army of Robalagallinas proudly showing off their colors.
I stayed until about 6:30 PM and had a great time.
While in Santo Domingo I had an enjoyable stay at Hotel Conde Penalba which had a wrap around balcony with a view of El Conde.
You can see my photos here at DR1 in the media gallery section and I will be posting them on my own webpage at Welcome.
All in all another great trip with lots of great food, new music, new friends, and new memories.
Paul Gerace