Mom visited me in Cofresi, west of Puerto Plata, for just over a week. She would spend her mornings out on the peninsula painting where the dogs could run wild while I was at work kickstarting the day. I showed her how to scout out the fresh mangos that had fallen from the large mango tree on the way to the beach. In the afternoons, I planned short day trips to see the many faces of this Northern coastal town.
Sosua- On the opposite side of the airport, Sosua has many British and German expats. We had lunch at the restaurant, On The Waterfront, which offered a fantastic view of the Northern shore from its patio dining. Afterwards, we walked down to the beach with its calm waters, soft sand, and obnoxious street vendors.
Laguna Gri-Gri– In Rio San Juan, about 2 hours away, this little ecotour takes you on a journey from its calm mangrove-lined river out to the rocky coastline along the sea. The boat glides into many protective alcoves where you can get out and snorkel.
Cabarete- This is where I liked hanging out on my days off. The one-street town is chock full of everything beachy: beach bars, beach shops, beach discos, beach bums (very nice people with sand on their toes). Cabarete is known for its kite-surfing, wind-surfing, and Camerones de Pape from Casa de Pape.
Teleferico in Puerto Plata- Botanical Gardens, a Christ the Redeemer statue, souvenir shops and a cafeteria are at the top of Pico Isabel del Torres overlooking the town sprawl of Puerto Plata.
Puerto Plata has its fair share of an expat community and displays the different nationalities through its many restaurants, especially in Cofresi. Los Dos was the outdoor terrace German restaurant run by Austrians which was just down the hill from the French and seafood specialty, La Papillon. Less than 10 minutes away in Costambar I had a few bars that served Americanized food, but if I continued down the pothole poxed street, I would find Le Sol del Mio, the Italian pizzeria where all the pizzas were baked in a brick fire oven. At least once a week I would drive down to the Rotisserie shack between Cofresi and Puerto Plata and get at least one, very fresh, full rotisserie chicken. As a special (and expensive) treat, my South African friends, Dave and Birgit took Mom and me to the Lobster House high above Cofresi where we could enjoy the breeze and Lobster Thermador.
Mom wanted to know where I do my shopping. Unfortunately, there aren’t a wide variety of stores in Puerto Plata. The closest mall is in Santiago where I shop for clothes, DVDs, etc, and a PriceMart (same as a Costco) where I can do bulk grocery shopping.
On a beautiful sunny day we went into town to at the Galeria de Ambar where we shopped for jewelry. The Dominican Republic is known for its broad range of colored ambers and a bright blue stone called larimar found only in this country.
Later, we went to Playa Dorada Resort where they have a small double story shopping center mostly with souvenir shops and a Pizza Hut. I found out early on that going to Pizza Hut was for special occasions, like birthdays. Playa Dorada also has a movie theatre where I would go to see films in English with Spanish subtitles.
On one of her last days in the Dominican Republic, we were walking the dogs on the peninsula, watching them dig for crabs and admiring the horses grazing.
“You’re never going to leave, are you?” Mom asked, more as a statement than a question.
“I like it here. A lot. I live near the beach, I have a maid once a week, and the fruit is fresh, really fresh. Yes, the electricity goes out at times, my car is full of rust and holes, and they run out of some of the foods I want, but I have more here than I would in the States. Plus the dogs have this huge area to play in unleashed, and my landlords love them. Really, what more could I want?”
To see a collection of my mom’s paintings, click here.