Higüey, República Dominicana
Recently I posted about my time in Punta Cana, República Dominicana. On my last day, I left the beach to venture into a local city called Higüey. Although it is a city, it is nothing like New York or Chicago. In Higüey, it is rare to see a building with two floors. Our tour bus didn’t have windows, so local children would run up to us, smiling immensely and handing us flowers.
Our first stop was a local ranch just outside the city. I absolutely loved the first half of this stop, which consisted of a trail ride on the horses. However, I lost interest during the second half, a cigar-making demonstration. The other participants enjoyed it because the Caribbean cigars were superior to that of the U.S., but I had no interest in trying one.
Next we toured a historic church called Basilica Catedral Nuestra Senora de la Altagracia. This was my favorite part of the day. The church was huge, and although it was built in a modern fashion, it contained antique treasures, including a beautiful painting of the Virgin Mary. Upon entering, I was given a white skirt to wear because my shorts exposed my knees. I would have been perfectly content just staring in awe at the beautiful cathedral, but I also loved learning its history, such as the fact that Pope Francis has visited twice!
After a lunch of rice, beans, chicken, and local coffee, we hiked through a canopy of cacao and coffee trees to a lagoon, then headed to the house of a local family. They gave us a tour of their home, which was smaller than a typical American home but well-furnished. In their backyard, they kept animals and grew a myriad of plants, including cacao and fruits. They gave us samples of hot chocolate, cacao butter, and coconut oil.
This excursion was the most interesting part of my trip, and I felt like I saw more of the Dominican in Higüey than I could in weeks at the beach resort. If you ever find yourself soaking up some sun in a foreign land, I highly recommend exploring a local city. I guarantee you will meet people and see places that are impossible to forget!