Chelsea Johnson is a student at Middle Tennessee State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. Chelsea recently participated in service-learning abroad with ISA Service-Learning in Santiago, Dominican Republic.
When going to the Dominican Republic, it is a MUST that you visit Salcedo, the home of Casa Museo Hermanas Mirabal (House Museum of the Mirabal Sisters). Known as Las Mariposas (the Butterflies), the Mirabal sisters fought against the Trujillo regime, ultimately being assassinated by the dictator who was in turn assassinated a few months later. This museum was truly a treat for me because of how interested I was in it prior to going to the Dominican Republic. Not only did I get to stand in the home of the Mirabal family and feel an emotional connection, but I got to meet a historical figure. I spoke with and got the autograph of Dede Mirabal, the last surviving Mirabal sister. She is 88 years old and still kicking!
4. Puerto Plata
Puerto Plata is an amazingly beautiful city. It is small, tight-knit and extremely colorful! From what I saw, the two main forms of transportation are cars/buses and motorcycles.
I’d advise that you take the teleférico (cable car) to the peak of Mount Isabel de Torres to see the statue of Jesus and get some pictures with the beautiful greenery. Also, don’t forget to explore the 16th-century San Felipe Fortress and take a dip at Playa Dorada, the local beach!
3. La Romana
I know that you may be tired of me saying this, but La Romana is also extremely beautiful! The most famous attractions there include Altos de Chavon (Chavon Heights) and Casa del Campo! This area looks very ancient because its architecture is made up of stone and brick buildings, stairs and walkways. When you get to the center of Casa del Campo, you reach Altos de Chavon and are able to see miles and miles of green land, a river and a ton of cows!
2. Bayhibe/Isla Saona
Of all of the beaches that I went to in the DR, Isla Saona was in my top 2 favorites! The water was crystal clear, but freezing, and the area was pretty secluded. We took a boat to the island and the ride lasted about 2 hours, but on the way back, we took a speed boat and it was AWESOME! It was my first time on a speed boat and it was an AMAZING experience! Before we got back to Bayhibe, we stopped off at la Piscina Natural (the Natural Pool). There I had yet another first time experience when I swam with the starfish!
1. Santiago–Home Sweet Home!
Last but not least is Santiago, the first city that I touched down in and called home for my period abroad! This city is beautiful and congested! The most amazing attraction in Santiago, to me, is La Aurora. La Aurora is the first cigar factory established in the DR! They produce top-notch cigars that are distributed in the U.S. I took a tour of La Aurora and was absolutely amazed at the process of cigar making. I even bought a box!