I Followed My Daughter To Las Terrenas And It Was Love At First Sight For Both Of Us
I traveled to the Dominican Republic for the first time in 2009 with my then 22-year-old daughter. She had just graduated college and had not taken a gap year as so many of her friends had done. Before she set out to start her professional life, she wanted an authentic volunteer experience in another country, not some canned adventure scripted from start to finish.
She found just what she was hoping for in a little fishing village called Las Terrenas on the northeast coast of the Dominican Republic’s Samana Peninsula. She volunteered for a small and little-known program she found online called the Fundacion Mahatma Gandhi. When we researched, we found that this was actually a couple who had volunteered their time for the community and whose efforts were supported by other volunteers from all over the world. When my daughter signed on, they were focused on starting a library, La Biblioteca Anacaona. The library has since been built, and now a bilingual school, as well.
It all sounded so wonderful at the time, almost too good to be true. I couldn’t help but feel a little protective of my daughter, so I offered to accompany her down to Las Terrenas to help get her settled in. I came as a worried mom, but I fell in love with the place the minute we touched down.
We arranged for a private service to drive us over the new highway from Santo Domingo to Samana. It was not the cheapest way to make this trip, and I have since tried most of the other possible methods, but it was really nice for our first time to have that door-to-door experience and chilled Presidentes to enjoy on the way. Presidente is the national beer. In fact, it seems to be the only beer.
When we arrived in Las Terrenas, Jose from the library met us and gave us a tour around town. I was staying only a few days, so I bunked with my daughter in the volunteer quarters. That was quite an experience. I discovered that five days is my limit for roughing it. We had a wonderful time, though, and my daughter so enjoyed volunteering that fall that she decided to return in the spring. I offered to accompany her again, this time for different reasons. I was no longer worried about my daughter traveling alone to Las Terrenas. I just couldn’t wait to see the place again.
For this trip, I booked a room in a little apart-hotel, as they are called, in the center of town. One day while visiting my daughter at the library, I met a couple also from the United States who had a place in Coson on the outskirts of Las Terrenas. They were retired schoolteachers, and the husband was donating his electrical skills to the library project.
My daughter showed me photos of the couple’s home. It had panoramic hilltop views, and the ocean was just a short distance away. There was a lot of outdoor living space and an infinity pool. My daughter called it her dream house. Looking at the pictures and hearing about this couple’s new life, I thought to myself: If retired schoolteachers can do this, why can’t I?
So started my quest to find my own little corner of paradise in the Caribbean. The next day I stopped in at several real estate offices and made inquiries. I was shown several apartments, all of which I liked, but all of which seemed out of my price range. I continued to look and made a connection with one real estate office in particular. The agents were friendly, and the owner was from the States. My Spanish at the time was nonexistent. In truth, it hasn’t improved much since, though I am trying to work on it.
I kept in touch with these agents by email between visits to the island. They didn’t give up on me but kept working to find just what I was after. Finally, they found something I both liked and felt I could afford.
My paradise may not be what you are looking for, but if your dream features sand, sun, and sea in the Caribbean, Las Terrenas is well worth a look. It’s a little off the beaten path, with lots of pristine beaches and outdoor adventure close by. You have to come and see for yourself.
Continue Reading: Maps Of Santo Domingo And Samana, Dominican Republic