Have you taken a trip with the goal to understand and experience another culture (with or without kids)? Contact us if you’d like to share your information on a “Cultural Travel” page like this.
Right after graduate school, my husband and I spent two years living in a Mayan community in Guatemala, working in education and international development, immersing in the local culture, and forming lifelong friendships. Ten years have passed; we have two kids, a house, non-profit careers and our passion for travel is still there.
When I earn a month sabbatical, there’s no question how I want to spend it. The definition of a sabbatical is to take a break from work to rest, travel, study and pursue your dreams. Mine is spending at least two weeks in a Spanish-speaking country, renting a house in a local neighborhood, and introducing my kids to adventure, travel and most importantly how the majority of the world lives. It’s our first international trip as a family of four. The Dominican Republic seems like a good fit.
When we arrive, we find our driver Ismael and load into his minivan. Over the next hour and a half we wind through Dominican towns, making our way to the coast. Chickens, banana trees, tiendas, street vendors, motorcycles, tin roofs on cement block houses, music. This is what Guatemala looks like—Kenya and Cambodia too.
Day 1: After a wakeful night with two sick kids, a rooster starts crowing and the birds are stirring in our thatched roof home in Cabarete. I get my first view of Choco National Park out my window. It’s breath-taking. And by afternoon the kids are over their 24-hour bug.
Day 2: We go to the beach on motoconchos. We’re approached by many vendors selling jewelry, hair braiding, trinkets, massages, woodwork. They’re all members of an association and have uniforms and badges. I’m shocked by their organization and politeness.
We devour calamari, ceviche, papas fritas and two cold Coca-Colas at the Front Loop. The kids proclaim they love calamari. The Swiss owner decorated the bar for the World Cup. Soccer fans from all over the world converge on this small restaurant to cheer on their teams. The locals could care less about futbol, they are baseball fans.
We return home on motocochos. It’s the heat of the day. We retire inside for siesta with fans pointed on us. Once the pool is in the shade around 4pm, we venture outside to swim. We hear bachata (Latin music popular in Cuba and the Dominican Republic) playing from houses nearby. Locals walk by us greeting, “Hola, buen tarde” through the fence. (…)