A Dominican Culture Tour
- Where to Go
- The Best of the Dominican Republic
- A Nature Lover’s Dominican Trek
- The Sexiest Dominican Beaches
- Historical Dominican Road Trip
- A Dominican Culture Tour
- Carnaval and Its Masks
- Planning Your Dominican Wedding
- Dominican Adventures
- Golfing the Dominican Republic
- Dominican Music and Dance
- La Ruta del Mango
- Day-Tripping in Monte Plata
- The Best Small Resorts
There is much to be seen in the Afro-Caribbean culture that is the Dominican Republic; the time of year you visit will determine where your focus should be. Here are some ideas to get you thinking about where to go to experience the art and culture of the Dominican Republic.
Santiago is a city that holds history in its hands and mixes the story of the folklore of the Dominican people with modern art. Start at the Monumento a Los Héroes de la Restauración de la República to learn of the history. Then go to Museo des Artes Folklórico Tomás Morel and on to the Centro León to get a good dose of Dominican art and its impact on modern-day society.
Take a drive through Salcedo and travel the Ruta de Murales. The entire town is painted with various artists’ works. Some are heavy in political content and historical figures, and others are still lifes or portraits. Regardless of the theme, these murals have created a town-sized art museum.
A visit to Higüerito de Moca will show you the potters’ studios that make the typical “faceless women” dolls. These dolls have become evocative of the Dominican race-less face. Our race and ethnicity cannot be pegged down to facial traits and is, therefore, in the imagination of the onlooker.
In Yamasá, visit an organization of organic cocoa farmers who have banded together in one production plant. Learn the entire process that makes the Dominican Republic the number one exporter of organic cocoa in the world. Cocoa has been an indigenous product since the Europeans began settling the island and has become an integral part of the Dominican diet.
Farther down the road, at the Cerámica Taína Hermanos Guillen, see where the family Guillen keeps the Taíno pottery art alive in their studio. If you’re here in June, go to the brothers’ Fiesta San Antonio to experience the musical traditions of gagá, gajumbe, and bambulá. The Guillen brothers are generous and serve a typical comida crilloa with free drinks. Look for it on the first Sunday before June 13.
Festivals are perhaps the best way to feel the pulse of the Dominican culture, which is so tightly tied to dance and music. If you arrive during the Merengue Festival in Santo Domingo (July–August), make your way to the Malecón to feel the beat of the island all night long.
Feel the beat of the Afro-Caribbean congo at the Día de San Miguel in the September festival of the patron saint of Villa Mella in Santo Domingo.
At the fiesta patronal of Baní from June 15 to June 24, you will see a flirtatious folkloric dance called sarandunga danced in celebration of San Juan Bautista. Its Afro-Caribbean rhythms use instruments like the tamboreros and guireros.
© Ana Chavier Caamaño from Moon Dominican Republic, 4th edition