Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Rebeca in Haiti Volume III: Crossing the border to the Dominican Republic

Expatriates working in so-called high security or hardship posts are often compensated with more vacation days and higher salaries or pay allowances than their colleagues working in easier/safer locations. The extent of these depend on the organization or company but it seems to be the norm. More than perks, these benefits are put in place to guarantee that people will be able to handle the stress of living in an unfamiliar and potentially dangerous location, often away from their families, and be able to successfully carry out their assignments. 

Most expats in Haiti told us that they needed to get away every three months in order to keep their sanity. It didn't have to be an extravagant trip but at least a hop across the border to spend a couple of days in the dominican republic. To enjoy the beach or maybe to experience more exotic pleasures unavailable in Haiti such as going to the movies or the mall...

When I joined my fellow intern, she had already been in Haiti for about 6 weeks and the country was still considered a hardship post. The designation remained so until the end of september. However, as interns we did not have access to the same benefits as legit expatriates do. As if being younger, and having less international experience would exempt you from going insane! On the contrary... I guess the logic was that we wouldn't need to take days off since we were only going to be there for 6 months. However, when September came around, I could sense that the combination of our lack of privacy, not being able to walk around alone, curfews, and transportation issues were starting to get to us. It wasn't as bad for me as for my fellow intern who had gone over the 3 month mark.

Playa Diamante in the Dominican Rep.

Our supervisors were more than happy to give us a couple of days off. Initially, we had thought about maybe visiting to other islands nearby but travelling within the caribbean is crazy expensive! In the end, we booked a trip to the Dominican Republic for the first week of october. Taking the recommendation of some friends, we decided to check out the capital Santo Domingo, and "Cabarete" in the North Coast. My friend came to meet us from New York and we had such a crazy, fun Holiday together. Cabarate is kind of a weird place in that it seems to have become a refuge for retired european adventure travellers who might or might not be running away from the law and young people who are really water sports. Maybe in relation to that, it is sadly also a hot spot for prostitution.  On that cheerful note, do scroll down for pictures...

*Santo Domingo*

We first stayed in a pretty awesome and super cheap Hostel called "Condominium Parque" and on our way back, we stayed in a Hotel called Paseo Colonial, which was pretty grim. We only spent 2 nights there but it was nice. We got to go to the movies, do some shopping, eat some mangu, and some orange juice with leche condensada. Pretty solid place.

Pedestrian Shopping Street in Old Town

Louisa, fellow intern, housemate, and friend

Old Town

Old Town


Kelsey :) my friend who came from NYC


the town

We stayed in this awesome hostel called Cabarete Surf Camp where we met all these weird, awesome people. We divided our 5 days there between surf lessons in the morning, massages at the beach in the afternoon, food, and drinks in the evenings. It was great.

Surf at Playa Encuentro

Surf, playa encuentro

Surf camp



Cabarete, wind surf is huge there

Playa Diamante 


Surf in Cabarete is also pretty good



When we came back, it was incredible how much that little week reinvigorated us. Personally, I never actually felt like I needed a break, I only realized how much I needed it when I returned and saw my productivity and well-being increase significantly. Ironically, what kept stressed me out in Haiti were more the security restriction rather that any actual danger that I encountered. Going to the dominican and feeling free to go anywhere, while not having such a drastic change in scenery allowed me to recharge batteries. I guess never underestimate the power of a vacation!

No comments:

Post a Comment

or connect with me on twitter @rearaniva