Tag Archives: Islands

Visiting Cuba: My First Impressions


Like most who return from a first-time trip to Cuba, I’ve struggled to write about it.

I’ve struggled even as the cultural visitor that I was, on a people-to-people tour. In essence, a tourist like everyone else.

The truth is that I had no plan to post anything on my blog at all, because this wasn’t for work for a change. It was for cultural and educational purposes–I’d always wanted to visit Cuba and understand it. It’s also a neighboring country to the Dominican Republic, and yes, I did need to know a little of it from that standpoint. But I wasn’t on assignment, and I wasn’t there as a travel journalist… although, it’s always hard to put that hat away.

I’ve received numerous messages asking me about my impressions or perspective of Cuba. The most recent question was: tell me in one word, did you love it?

After I answered, I began to wonder–how much can one judge anyway after 11 days in Cuba, across several regions? Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t favor writing about a place after a short stay. That’s why most of my writing sticks to my expert destinations.

But that’s the thing. There are times I traveled on press trips for a short time, and came back enchanted (the reverse is also true). I spent a week in Martinique and returned with plenty of positive impressions. Four days Continue reading »

It’s Carnival Season in the Dominican Republic

Dominican CarnivalThe most exciting and and most important cultural season of the year in the Dominican Republic is here: Carnival. Or as we say here in the DR, Carnaval. 

Last Saturday night, with the end of January, Puerto Plata held its annual Gran Gala de Carnaval and the selection of Puerto Plata Carnival Queen. Aside from the beauty pageant side, the four-hour packed show was a gorgeous showcase of the DR’s cultural diversity, with various comparsas dancing in vibrant costumes, iconic Dominican carnival characters (more on that later), and an infectious energy that is just a snippet of what’s to come this month.

Unlike other Caribbean countries, the Dominican Republic celebrates carnival with parades for six weekends–not just the days preceding Lent–in every major city and province, including Santo Domingo, Santiago, La Vega, >> Continue reading »