Finalizing our Location

Having made our own connections via the Internet, and reaching out to our extended network we had come up with two potential locations for our time in the Dominican Republic. The first was a resort which had been converted into an apartment complex, called Las Canas. The second was the guest house of the TEARS organization situated comfortably in a Barrio (slum) in the interior city of La Vega, not too far from Santiago.

Las Canas Apartments

Las Canas appealed for a number of reasons. First they had a pool which we knew could occupy the kids for hours a day. They had wireless Internet access that appeared reasonably reliable, an on site store, a cheap shuttle to town, and all the references we sought indicated it was very well run. Being that this choice would be an on-our-own experience we were glad that some English was spoken by the staff, and being near to the tourist town of Sosua we were sure we could get by. There was also Spanish tutors available in the town.

The disadvantages of Las Canas were no fault of the complex, but rather its lack of alignment with our goals (which were still forming in our mind at the time). Being so close to the shore we figured there might be too much English to force us to learn Spanish, especially with the other guests at the complex. Its distance from town, although probably making it a little safer, would limit our ability to get out for a break, or to mingle with locals. We countered this by arguing that we could use this as a home base location for visiting with many of the people and organizations we had connected with as a way to see the country and meet the people.

Overall the TEARS guesthouse appeared to be better aligned with our goals but had some major drawbacks of its own.

Tears Guesthouse

The TEARS guesthouse was really the exact opposite of Las Canas. It is a small (estimated 500 square feet) apartment on the third floor of a building they own. They offered it to us because it was empty under the understanding that we would cover the costs to get some of the major furnishings that were missing and care for it during our stay. The guesthouse was two bedrooms although we imagined they must be pretty small. They said there was power available roughly 4-6 hours per day, but with an inverter that they could keep the Internet up for 10-12 hours.

Guest house kitchen

Guest house kitchen

Front View

Front View

The guest house is located in a Barrio, which is the Spanish room for community but is used to refer to a poor or slum community. We would have never considered this on our own, but because there were two other people from the TEARS organization in the same building we took some comfort. The community is totally Spanish which excited and scared us. Immersion is great, but what if you really need to get something? Again, having some local connections helped alleviate our concern. Safety wise they assured us that the community is very accepting, and even protective, of people who are living among them and that they had never felt in danger. Although it sounded a bit crazy to us, one of the single ladies there goes walking at night on her own and doesn’t feel scared.

It really came down to the wire on this. So much so that we had booked our tickets into Peurto Plata before we had made a decision because we didn’t want plane ticket prices to rise any further. In the end, as you probably know, we went with the TEARS guesthouse. As our goals became more concrete it was clear that this was pretty much an ideal situation, we just needed to overcome some of our own fears and the challenges we knew we would face.

So on we went to the barrio…

View of Community

View of Community

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