Experiencing a country and culture from a locals perspective always creates the best memories. While travelling in the Dominican Republic, I got to experience the country through the eyes of a local which made the entire journey much richer.
One of the main reasons why I love to travel is because I get to see first hand different ways of life. For me, it’s very special when I develop a lasting friendship with a local from each place I visit. Not only are people generally awesome, and I love making friends, but you also get introduced to off the beaten path and authentic experiences.
Siya (my husband for those who are new) and I spent a week exploring Dominican Republic, outside of the all-inclusive resorts. Since we would be filming our 1-week DR adventure, we hired a driver named Moises to take us around the island to make things easier with filming. About a week prior to our adventure, we had a pretty set itinerary for our trip. We knew each day where we would be and generally what we would be doing. Our plan was to spend time in Santo Domingo, Punta Cana and Puerto Plata. Since spontaneous travel is what we live for, we ended up adding a lot more to our days and experiencing places and things we couldn’t have planned ahead of time.
Our trip to the Dominican wouldn’t have been as awesome if we didn’t meet Moises. Moises became much more than a drive and tour guide, but a good friend. He knew so much about the culture and places around the island and took us to some pretty great places off the beaten path.
My favourite memory from the entire trip was when Moises took us to his parents house for lunch. His parents live in a gorgeous house located in a beautiful neighbourhood. He spent his life growing up here. While the design of the house was very beautiful, it was the backyard that truly captivated me. It had many exotic fruits, vegetables and medicinal herbs growing everywhere. From one corner to the other, you could find dragon fruits, mangoes, avocados, oranges, coconuts, lemon basil, aloe, cilantro, and even mamey. There were different herbs that cured stomach flus and fevers and even a Higüero Tree which bares gourds used to make bowls and cups. You can’t get any more organic and local than having all of the produce you can imagine on your own property. This backyard was a dream!
Once we took a tour of the house and tasted some delicious fruit, we sat down for a home made meal. Steamed broccoli, potatoes and avocados from the garden happily made their way to my plate. Then came the steamed rice and beans followed by a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade (again from the garden). A very lovely lady who has been helping out Moises family since he was a young boy cooked the meal. Some would call her “the help” but Moises called her family.
The rest of afternoon was spent walking around the garden, tasting more herbs and fruits and petting the family dog. It may seem like a simple laid-back day, which it was, but it was also my favourite day on the entire trip. For me, days spent with locals, doing as they would even if you weren’t there are the best travel experiences.
What has been one of your best “local experience” during your travels?
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Kristen Sarah is a full-time traveller, tiny home owner and adventure junkie. She has one of the leading YouTube travel channels and is the head honcha of award-winning travel and lifestyle website, Hopscotch the Globe.