Thursday Dec 2, Day 5

Today we were in Samana, Dominican Republic. It was a bit overcast this morning. Around 8:30, we headed down to deck 1 where we had to catch our tender. This country does not have a dock for ships, so our ship has to dock about a mile away and we take small boats in. I was told often the ship uses the life boats to tender, but here they used a local speed boat service which was nice as the trip only took about 10-15 minutes. (would’ve taken a lot longer using the life boats).

I had a tour lined up for today with a private guide. I found him highly recommended on a website ( as well as a friend used him last year. I also had 2 other couples from our roll call join us. The tour guides name is Terry and he is from the USA (Pittsburg born). His wife is from the D.R so he’s lived here the last 8 years he said.

As we headed off in an open air vehicle, it was starting to rain. He said not to worry because chances are when we get over to the other side of the island, it’ll be clear. We had an almost 40 min drive to our beach. During that time, he told us a lot of neat facts about the island and tidbits of information most people wouldn’t know. We passed a beach where Terry said would’ve been the first place Christopher Columbus would’ve landed before Santo Domingo but he was chased off by Indians.

We saw lots of tiny shacks that were basically the equivalency of a grocery store. He said most people go here before each meal to buy the supplies they need for just that meal. Most people don’t have transportation to get into the bigger towns, plus they can’t afford to stock up like you and I do. Nor could they chance something spoiling before getting a chance to use it. He said they walk into these stores, ask for say 5 pesos of tomato paste, the clerk dishes some out of a large container into a baggie, and that’s how they get the stuff they need for each meal.

We also saw these small tables with beer bottles sitting on them. He said those bottles are NOT beer but gasoline. A lot of people have mopeds they get around on. If they drove into town to fill up, they’d waste half their tank of gas getting back again. So someone buys a big thing of gas, divides it up into the beer bottles and that’s what individuals buy to refuel their mopeds.

Terry explained the school system here. They have lots of tiny schools within walking distance of the students. Most are only 1-2 rooms big. They can’t fit all the students in at one time, so the kids are split up. Elementary students go half the day, then middle school goes the other half of the day. Each group gets about 3hrs of schooling each day. He said there are high schools located in the bigger towns and it’s up to the students to get themselves there, which he said most do.

As we drove around, we were definitely reminded that we were in a third world country. You’ll see some scenery pictures when I eventually share my photos from today. But despite that, it is a very beautiful country, untouched by the common touristy things like other Caribbean countries are. Their language is Spanish. So it was nice to be able to understand what those around me where saying and to be able to converse when needed.

We finally arrived at the beach La Playita. It was breathtaking as we pulled into it. And yes, by this point in time, the rain was long gone and it was sunny out and temperature was in the mid 80’s! You had the mountains in the distance which made for a gorgeous setting for the beach.

The water was a beautiful clear blue and you could easily see the reefs that were spread throughout the beach. It was amazing how far out we could walk and the water was still so shallow. Terry went out and snorkeled a bit and found a sea urchin for the kids to see and hold. The kids found some neat shells as well to bring home.

Our lunch was included in our tour. The restaurant sat right on the beach. We had a typical family style Dominican bbq.

Bbq chicken, grilled fish, fried plantain, rice, etc. It was amazing!!!! He said you never know what fish they will have. They serve whatever they just caught that day. He said the chicken is fresh too! LOL (you see them running around everywhere).

After lunch, we took more pictures, played in the water and laid out in the sun. About 2:30, we headed out.

We asked about stopping by a school to drop off school supplies we brought with us. (thank you to those of you who donated supplies!) We got to meet a small elementary class of 9 students. Our kids gave the teacher the bags of things we brought along and the students thanked them. We also took a picture of our kids with the class together.

There were so many interesting things Terry told us about this country, I couldn’t begin to list everything. He was a wonderful tour guide and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him to anyone.

We set sail a little before 5pm. We truly enjoyed our day in the Dominican Republic.

Next stop is St Thomas tomorrow!

Have a great evening!

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