A few days ago, my hubby and I took a much needed quick four day trip to the Dominican Republic. It was our first time there so I can not really comment much on the country as a whole.
The Dominican Republic is located in the Caribbean sea on the island of Hispaniola sharing it with Haiti to the West. I knew nothing about this country except for its beautiful beaches until this trip came up and in the course of doing my research, I have learned so much already.
I admit I didn’t know that the official language is Spanish. I simply assumed that just because they are next door neighbors with Haiti that they spoke French. That makes communicating a tad bit easier then, thank God! So I brought it upon myself to learn a few basic Spanish words and sentences just to get us by while traveling there.
Our adventure took us to Samaná, a sleepy little town and municipality on the Northeastern part of the Dominican Republic. I’ve looked at many other popular places, Punta Cana, Santo Domingo, Puerto Plata, Bayahibe among others but this little rough gem caught my attention. It does not have the glitter and party vibe of the all-inclusives and other luxury resorts. In fact, it is the least known by Dominican natives and foreign tourists in general. As it is, it stands alone by itself, unique and waiting for you to explore its hidden natural beauty.
Fruit stands are abundant, “thousands” of motoconchos speeding and plying the narrow roads, locals are mostly outside talking or simply just hanging out watching the world go by and the children, so crisp in their blue and khaki school uniforms ready to go home from school. The scenery is rural and mostly agricultural, much like the Philippines.
Because it is a peninsula, it has the big waves of the Atlantic Ocean on the north and the emerald colors of the Caribbean sea on the south. It also has mountains and jungles, rivers and waterfalls. You really get the best of both worlds, with not a lot of tourists (except when the cruise ship docks) to boot.
We stayed at the Dominican Tree House Village which was roughly a 2.5 hour ride (done the Dominican way) from the capital city of Santo Domingo where the international airport was. They also have an international airport in Samaná which is much closer but there was no scheduled flight for us the day that we were arriving. We got picked up at the airport after days of debating if we really need to get a rental car or not, we ended up choosing safety and convenience over the freedom to drive anywhere. Our time was limited anyway so we could not explore the other areas as much as we want to.
This part is where I tell you about my short lived “love affair” with the Tree House.
After a long ride on the highway, we veered off the main road and onto a rocky and bumpy gravel road where there were little to no houses in sight, just coconut trees and more trees. In my mind, the adventure begins. And when I thought that it was all over, our van made a turn towards a dry river bed! Where’s the road?
We finally stopped and we were wondering where the Tree House was. The driver and his companion helped us out and picked up my back pack while my hubby carried his. They spoke no English so that really helped orient us. This was apparently the back entrance to the property. It was like stepping into a lush tropical jungle. Rows upon rows of bananas, cacao trees, coconuts, giant ferns, flowers and various plants can be found lining the pathways.
I was in awe of everything. There was so much nature around!
The main hall was impressive, made of natural materials. This was where we checked in too. Equally as impressive when we walked in was the open air kitchen with the staff prepping food for dinner. Everyone made us feel welcome instantly with their friendly “holas” and of course, our welcome drink, rum and coke.
Much to our surprise and utter amazement, we were given the VIP room, with no added charge, of course. But what exactly is in the VIP room?
You got more space than the regular cottages, table and chairs, an outdoor patio, your very own private toilet and an outdoor shower. It is much more higher up than the rest so you have to walk a bit further up the hill hence the separate toilet and bath. It is much more secluded with wonderful views of the mountain and the trees.
The rest of the cottages share a common toilet and bath, some with hot water (but who needs hot water in the jungle?), all interspersed through out the property. The rooms all with mosquito netting can accommodate a maximum of two people and except for the VIP room, has two hanging chairs.
The Tree House is surely an outdoor lover’s paradise. This was what we came here for. To unplug and disconnect from the world, no TVs, no wifi, no phones, not even a credit card machine! We truly needed this time off for ourselves, with Mother Nature as your backdrop, the sounds of the jungle as your music, and nothing but your flashlight to guide you back to your rooms at the end of a simple and freshly prepared dinner. Don’t get me wrong, I am afraid of bugs and other creepy crawlies but that does not stop me from enjoying the outdoors either.
Enjoying simple yet meaningful conversations with fellow guests while the staff make you feel at home, learning to appreciate the art of doing nothing and just listening to the jungle noise were the stuff I craved for. On our first night, I wasn’t able to sleep at all. The cacophony of sounds was assaulting my senses, from the crickets to the frogs to the loud squawking birds in the early mornings to the other unidentifiable sounds that serve as nature’s orchestra amplified by the echoes from the mountain across our room. I swear almost every living creature comes to life at night and has its own jungle call. I was in full sensory overload, in a good kind of way. I have never experienced such a thing in my life before. As the days passed, I eventually learned to sleep through the noise and still woke up bright and early from our natural alarm clock, that squawking bird. My hubby wondered if that bird ever took a day off.
At the end of our four day stay, after having dined with the rest and went on excursions together as a group, we bonded magically with the other guests and the staff as well. It was a good mix of people, young and old, all like-minded, almost sharing the same interests in travel and adventure, from all walks of life. It is this human connection that we all so desperately need in today’s world, a quick break from the harshness of daily living and immersing oneself with nature.
As we go back to our regular routines when we get home, the stories shared by the light of the fire whilst having a drink or two, the deep laughter enjoyed as jokes are told, and the memories we have had from the Tree House will remain buried deep in our souls.
And as the sun sets low over the canopy of the jungle trees, I fall in love all over again….