In the Caribbean of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic part 3

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(Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco)

Following up from my previous series about the Dominican Republic, my adventure in the Santo Domingo, Dominica Republic was amazing. I stayed at the Beaterio Guest House in La Zona Colonial.

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(Outside Courtyard at El Beaterio Guest House; Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco)

This guest house was amazing and seemed like something out of a movie. It’s location on Calle Duarte was a safe one and I never had any issues. The front-desk attendants were well-educated Haitians and their customer service was impeccable. I spent a lot of time exploring the streets of Calle Duarte and Calle Esconde. These streets lead me to La Plaza de Santo Domingo which was similar to the Spanish colonial center of the city commonly known as “Plaza Mayor”.

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As I explored this area, I came across so many taxis. The taxi drivers in Santo Domingo are competitive and can be found all over the island anytime of the day. I was able to find a taxi driver that was willing to work with my  budget and he was so hungry for business that he accepted whatever I offered him. While on my journey, I had to get a haircut and I had a Dominican barber exclusively for the past 3 years. I ran onto Tony’s barbershop. Dominicans are experts when it comes to hair care, salons, and grooming.

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(Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco)

    Since I was in the Caribbean, I had to explore the beach. I visited Boca Chica and relaxed in the calming waters. I noticed that there were a lot of street vendors selling fruits, shrimps, glasses and other things directed towards tourists. Having a very common Dominican last name, I was able to blend in with the other Dominicans. I helped the street vendors by translating for them and helping them make a few sales. Therefore, I spent the entire day receiving free fruits, shrimps, and even a pair of Burberry glasses (they were knock-off but I really appreciated the gesture). After spending so much time at the beach, I returned back to La Zona Colonial and had good food, a Presidente beer, and good music to end the night.

Stay tuned as we continue our journey in the Caribbean as we explore Jamaica.

One Love. Peace!

Barbados on a Budget

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(Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco)

  Ever dreamed of that getaway trip to the care-free Island of the Caribbean? Of course you have! Now more than ever that dream trip is attainable and more affordable than you would think. I recently took a trip to St. Lawrence Gap, Barbados and you can too! One of the inexpensive times to go to the Caribbean is during the month of October. Countries such as Barbados are not affected by recent hurricanes and receive less tourism compared to top Caribbean destinations.  Once you arrive at the award winning airport, the first thing you will see is Rihanna (I’m not complaining). I advise you to have your country’s currency converted into Bajan dollars at the Grantley Adams International Airport once arriving because using foreign currency will be more costly.

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(Arrival at Grantley Adams International Airport; Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco)

            My family and I checked into the 3-star hotel called Dover Beach Hotel for the cost of $566.01 for the duration of 7 days (That is just $80.85 a day!).The hotel includes a bar, a pool, a gift-shop, and a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The room also includes a kitchen with a stove, microwave, a refrigerator,and a balcony overlooking the beach. They even give you your first alcoholic drink for free as complimentary (Who is going to turn down free drinks?).

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(Balcony view from hotel room; Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco)

This hotel is a hidden-gem for various reasons. First, the hotel is located on Dover Beach so the beach is literally steps away form your room. Secondly, the hotel is located in the St. Lawrence Gap aka The Gap. The Gap is a 1.3 km stretch in the Christ Church parish that has bars, restaurants, gift-shops, hotels, beaches, and even carnival events. My favorite place was Pronto Bar because of the cheap prices on both food and drinks. I recommend the fishcakes and the pina coladas. 860

(St. Lawrence Gap; Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco)

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(Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco)

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(Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco)

Thirdly, the area has very good public transportation with buses, taxi-vans, shuttles, and private taxis.  I took the bus for only 2 Bajan dollars (cheap is always good!). We took a 2 dollar mini-van to Oistins to the Supermarket. A tip for keeping cost low on food is to buy from the supermarket and prepare your own food. Oistins also has a fish market with fresh fish from the sea. Buying fish from this market was a lot cheaper than fine dining at the local restaurants. At this same market, every Friday and Saturday, there is a huge fish fry with people drinking, dancing and partying. It was so much fun that I had to stay stay away from the rum punch the next day. 235

(Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco)

  The party never stops in Barbados. While adventuring on the Gap, we ran into a small carnival. There was high-energy, dancing, free rum- punch (you will encounter this a lot in Barbados!), and loving Bajans. Make that dream trip to the Caribbean as it is more affordable than you may think!

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(Carnival in St. Lawrence Gap; Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco)

Panama: Roots, Culture and Arts

Panama is a well-known tourist destination but there is a hidden Panama not often viewed by the common tourist. Just like any other country, Panama has both wealthy and impoverished area. For the unconventional traveler, these areas can be dangerous but they also hold so much culture and arts.

San Miguelito is a district in Panama City, Panama that has produced athletes and music artists. On October 11, 2017, the national Panama football team defeated Costa Rica with the final score of 2 versus 1. This matched was the official game qualifying Panama for the World Cup for the first time ever. The Panamanian president Juan Carlos Varela commemorated the date by making it a national holiday. Football player Luis Tejada was one of these players. He is a native of San Miguelito and proof that not everything from the ghetto is bad.

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(Photo courtesy of FIFA)

Another area is Colon. This is the central of Afro-Panamanians. Portobelo, Colon was once a slave-port and is now a UNESCO world heritage site. Every year on October 21st, Panamanians take a 53-mile pilgrimage with the Negro Cristo (Black Christ) statue in order bring blessings and miracles to their lives.

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   (Photo Courtesy of Playa Community)

  Yet, another area is Rio Abajo. This is the birth place of Reggae star El General. This Grammy-award artist started what is now called Reggaeton. Before there was Reggaeton in other countries such as Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic, El General started the tropical sounds of reggae beats, drum patterns, and the Jamaican  influence  to Latin America.

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(Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco)

In the interior of Panama, a small jungle like area called “Chilibre” borders both Colon and Panama City. I have family here including my father and this is my 2nd home ever since he was deported back in 2002. Every time I’m in Chilibre it is a humbling experience. This area has influenced me so much that I made a music video to expose the world to the other Panama not mentioned in travel guides. Panama has more than what meets the eyes.

Be the first to see the world premiere:

 

Panamá: El Paraiso Escondido

Located in the center of the Americas, the Republic of Panama is a hidden paradise with more than just the Panama Canal. Welcome to a paradise of rich & diverse culture, unforgettable cuisine, and a adventure awaiting.

Panama’s people are diverse and comprise of different ethnicities, cultures, and languages. It’s official language is Spanish but due to migration movements, global influences, and tourism, there is more than just a Spanish influence. For example, the building of the Panama Canal sparked large migrations of people from Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago. Panama also has a hundred year presence of Chinese that is central to Panamanian culture. The indigenous community of Panama is a rich and large one itself. The Kuna are one of Panama’s indigenous groups. In cities like Colón, you also see Panama’s African presence that dates back to colonialism.

The food in Panama is a seafood lover’s treasure. Panama is an intriguing country which translates to Fish in an indigenous language. My favorite fish is Corvina. There is nothing like fresh salt water fish. I visited Mi Pueblo in the Amador Causeway (take me back!). There is no shortage of seafood in Panama.

An adventure awaits in Panama!

We are back!

A message to our followers, we would like to apologize for not posting anything for a long time. We were out making new adventures! There will be new posts coming very soon. Here is a preview of what’s to come.

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-Panama

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– Jamaica

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– Barbados

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-San Francisco, California

Hope to see you all very soon!

Turin, Italy

Turin, a city in the northern part of Italy. Known for being the place where don bosco lived and did his missionary work. The picture above was taken right outside of the city. The northern Italian landscape is very beautiful.  

The main attraction in this city is the basilica of our lady help of Christians. The church was built by Don bosco. It was a former safe haven for poor teenagers and children.  

This is the square/center for the Basilica. 

The whole church was built by a man with little money. This is the original designs.

So finally, I will explain who Don bosco is. He was priest that founded an orphanage for poor childern, mainly abandoned boys. The priest is considered as a saint in the catholic religion. His miracle, according to the catholic faith, was he kept giving food to the needy when his food supply should had ran out. He kept finding food in his bag to give to the homeless, when by logic, there should not been any food left to give out.

Thank you for taking your time to read this post. Next week, we will go to the mountains in Italy. Stay safe and healthy.