What Makes a Place Special?

It’s People.

No matter how many beautiful tourist spots there are to see, even with breathtaking sceneries, and no matter how jaw dropping the architectural wonders are, if the people are not friendly, and not welcoming and you, at the same time, haven’t interacted with a single person either, then that place will just be another check off your bucket list. Lifeless, soul-less, without meaning.

To me, the people you meet along the way are what makes your journey memorable, more colorful and worth talking about. The exchanges with the locals, young and old alike, regardless of the cultural, religious or language differences are what matters. In fact, it is in breaking down these obvious barriers and looking past them that you get to truly experience the heart of a place, a country and it’s people.

Meet some of the people that made our trip to Samana in the Dominican Republic special. They have touched my life in one way or the other.

From the smiling young boy named Jonathan who helped take away our bikes and then held my hand to guide me down the steep path to the riverbank, to Memem, the slightly crazy adrenaline junkie zip line guide, to Ramon, my horse guide, ever so gentle and yet despite the huge language barrier treated me like his daughter, to Jackie, one of the many wonderful smiling staff at the Tree House who made sure we had a wonderful time and to that random guy who proudly showed me the fried fish he cooked that day for lunch. If you just take time to look around you, listen to people’s stories and be in the Now, these are the moments that are extra special!


I also took some street shots that show how communal they are and that they like to be around lots of people, hanging out, having fun and talking. The streets are always busy and alive. They like to sit outside their homes or their yards and play loud music and sing or dance. One thing I have observed here is that the Domincans love their music!

The last photo at the bottom right shows a funeral procession, pretty much the way we do it in the Philippines, with some people walking and some in cars.


In your travels, do you take time to interact with the locals too? Are you interested to learn and listen to what they have to say?

14 thoughts on “What Makes a Place Special?

  1. I one hundred percent agree with you that the people make the country. A country with the most perfect sightseeing opportunities but unfriendly people is not one, most people fondly remember. My favourite countries usually stem from positive interactions with the local population. Without that you don’t get a “feel” for the country. I can see you why you liked the DR so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess as I got older my views on traveling have changed. It used to be just the usual sightseeing and taking pictures but now, I realized that the best way to see the locals in action is to go to their wet markets! I have also found greater meaning in making local connections and truly being interested in my surroundings for what it is and not just for a photograph’s sake.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I fully agree, that’s why when we choose places to stay, we usually like to be in a community less touristy. Just watching the locals go about their business and being able to interact with them teaches us so much. I’m sure as much as you learned from your trip, they were just as equally excited to practice their English with you or find out about your home and where you’d come from.

    Liked by 1 person

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