I am a travel snob. I admit this without shame or reservation. When it comes to destinations, I’m basically a pain in the ass. I don’t do Cancun. I don’t do Nassau Paradise Island. Basically, I don’t do any place outside America where I might bump into large groups of Americans. I’d say I don’t judge those who do, but I do. So let’s call a snob a snob.
But the thing about prejudices is that eventually you find out they’re misplaced. And recently my judgments on travel were rolled up into a tight little ball, put into a pipe, and handed to me so I could smoke away my own arrogance. This was my first foray into the Dominican Republic, and I quickly learned to eat my words, happily, with a side of rice, fried plantains and a cold Presidente.
Before I actually set foot on the island, here’s what I knew about it: Punta Cana. Yep, that’s it. As far as I knew, every reason to go to the Dominican Republic could be found on the sugary shores of the all-inclusive resorts. All-you-can-eat, umbrella’d bevvies, glitzy casinos, and cheesy nightlife. So I wrote it off as another sandbar destination with American hotel chains and lobster-backed tourists who don’t give a damn about visiting anything beyond the borders of the pool deck.
How wrong I was. My first trip to the island took me to its rugged southwest coast, where I realized I don’t despise the DR after all… and actually I could become borderline obsessed with it instead. (…)