Salcedo is a town for painters to love, Dominican historians to make a pilgrimage to, and for women of any nationality to come and pay homage to, and it will all be apparent by the first sight of the water tower on the Carretera Moca–Salcedo.
Salcedo, home of the famous Mirabal family, is 14 kilometers east of the town of Moca  and 22 kilometers west of San Francisco de Macorís. The water tower has a hand-painted mural of the three Mirabal sisters, who are revered in Dominican history and became martyrs for Dominican liberty and women’s rights. The day of their murder, November 25, has been declared as the International Day Against Violence Towards Women. Dedé Mirabal, the last surviving sister, still lives in Salcedo.
Accommodation choices are slim in Salcedo. It is best saved for a day trip to visit the sights. However, if you must stay, an option is Hotel La Casona Gran Imperial (Calle Doroteo Tapia 51, tel. 809/577-4468, RD$350–1,000). Be careful what you book; if you don’t mind sharing a bathroom (five or six of the rooms share a bathroom), then go for the lower price. But if you want your own, then you need to specify and pay the higher price. The rooms are clean, but the “Gran Imperial” title is stretching it. The hotel is centrally located and will do if you get stuck in Salcedo. Not many windows.
Throughout the town, you will see countless colorful murals along the Mural Route, which travels throughout the town of Salcedo and onward to Tenares. The bulk of its murals are in Salcedo. One theme that is represented in the murals throughout is the presence of butterflies in many of the paintings. This is in reference to the Mirabal women’s codename in their fight against Trujillo.
Murals are painted on fences, on government buildings, houses, and on banks. Murals are absolutely everywhere and they have become a sense of pride for Salcedo and a defining character for the town. Meander through the streets by car, hire a motoconcho (you can find one by the Plaza Central), or just walk, but certainly take your camera.
Ecotourism and sustainable tourism are on the rise in the Dominican Republic , and in the land of coffee, there is no better combination than The Coffee Route (Calle Prof A Regalado 5, tel. 809/577-1475, www.larutadelcafedominicano.org ). This is a cultural, educational, and ecological experience. You will walk (different degrees of difficulty) or ride on donkey back while observing coffee plantations, blooming tropical flora, and mountain scenery and enjoying the local hospitality. You will be escorted along the still-undiscovered-by-mass-tourism trail by expert ecological guides. You will stay in local homes and eat local food. You will visit not only coffee plantations, but also cocoa producers and other local cultivators.
You will taste the Atabey (the Taíno word for “Mother Earth”) and Jamao (located in Salcedo) coffee, visit local craftsmen, and dine at restaurants. It is a well-rounded and educational tour looking at the rich and the impact that coffee has had on the culture of the Dominican Republic.
There are two routes to chose from and packages within each: the Route of Atabey (one day RD$1,910, three days RD$5,205) or the Route of Jamao (one day RD$1,745, three days RD$5435).
The Museo de Hermanas Mirabal (9 a.m.–9 p.m. daily, RD$30) is the house that the Mirabal sisters grew up in. The house has been “preserved” with period furnishings and personal belongings. While the interior may be cheesy to some, to those who know their Dominican history or even just love the book In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez, the Mirabal home is tantamount to a pilgrimage spot despite its forced sentiment (the girls’ dresses and their personal affects have been laid out as if they have just left). In the beautiful and meticulously kept garden are the graves of Las Mariposas (The Butterflies, their underground codename)—Patria, Minerva, and María Theresa. You can pay your respects to the martyred women.
During the first week of August, a blazing hot time of year to be in these parts, hundreds of people gather their art and sell it at the Feria Artesanal. You will be able to purchase pottery and other Dominican handicrafts like woven baskets, carved figurines, and paintings.