Category Archives: RESOURCES

All the information and resources you might need while visiting Dominican Republic.

Dominican Republic Holidays 2020

Holiday Calendar of Dominican Republic 2020 / Días Feriados 2020 Calendario

Dominican Republic Holidays / Días Feriados del 2020 and Important dates to remember.

Holidays – The Minister of Work announced the calendar for the celebration of the holidays for the year 2020 according to the Law 139-97 / Días Festivos – El Ministerio de Trabajo anuncia el calendario para la celebración de los días feriados para el año 2020, establecidos en la Ley 139-97. www.mt.gob.do

Be aware – On the long weekends the cities usually empty out as most people head to the beaches or the country. Hotels are usually booked to capacity with Dominicans enjoying these long weekends. The highways in and out of the city can be very congested with people coming and going.

The flag of Dominican Republic
The flag of Dominican Republic

January/ Enero

1 – Wednesday – New Year’s Day / Año Nuevo (How Dominicans celebrate Año Nuevo)

6 – Monday – Día de los Santos Reyes Magos – Epifania / Three Kings Day – Epiphany (what is 3 Kings Day?)

12 – Sunday – Día de la Resistencia Heroica/ Day of Heroic Resistance (this is the first year for this day to honor the men and women who fought for a fairer society)

15 – to End of March – Whale Watching (the best place to observe is the Samana Bay)

21 – Tuesday – Our Lady of Altagracia Day / Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia. (more information on Altagracia and a photo slide show of the Basilica de Higuey)

25 – Saturday – Chinese New Year (celebrations for the Year of the Rat in Barrio Chino / China Town)

26 – Sunday – Natalicio de Juan Pablo Duarte / Duarte Birthday celebrated. Juan Pablo Duarte was born on the 26th. (more information on Duarte).

Valentines Day decoration in Parque Rosado
Valentines Day decoration in Parque Rosado

February/ Febrero

1 through 29 Las Fiestas de Carnaval Dominicano / Dominican Carnival Parties Carnival Dominicano/ Dominican Carnival celebrations happen all month. The weekends are when different communities hold their parades and celebrations. Usually, the ultimate parade on the Malecon in Santo Domingo with the best of the best is held the first Sunday in March.

14 – Friday – Día de San Valentín / Valentine´s Day

27 – Thursday – Día de la Independencia / Independence Day – Día de la Bandera / Flag Day. Dominicans celebrate February 27, 1844 as their Independence Day. This the day the country declared its independence again and retook the name República Dominicana (Dominican Republic). A constitution modeled on that of the United States was put forth in November 1844.

March/ Marzo

6 – Miércoles de Ceniza / Ash Wednesday – The first day of Lent

19 – Batalla del 19 de Marzo / Battle of March 19 / Important battle for independence was fought on March 19, 1844 in Azua

30 – Batalla del 30 de Marzo or Batalla de Santiago / Battle of March 30 or Battle of Santiago. Another battle won in the fight for independence fought in 1844.

April/ Abril

5 – Domingo de Ramos / Palm Sunday

10 – Viernes Santo / Good Friday (long weekend from Thursday 9th to Sunday April 12th)

12 – Sunday – Domingo de Pascua – Semana Santa / Easter – one of the biggest vacation times here. How do Dominicans celebrate Easter / Semana Santa? Read all about it.

May/ Mayo

4 – Monday – Día del Trabajo / Labor Day (official day May 1st) (long weekend from Friday to Monday)

25 – Día de la Revolución de Mayo / Revolution Day

31 – Sunday – Mother’s Day. (Always falls on the last Sunday in May)

The dates of all the Patronales/ Patron Saints celebrations are on the Patron Saint Celebrations Page.

Procession to the Faro a Colón on Corpus Christi Day
Procession to the Faro a Colón on Corpus Christi Day

June/ Junio

11 – Thursday – Corpus Christi Day

July/ Julio

26 – Sunday – Father’s Day (Always falls on the last Sunday in July)

August/ Agusto

16 – Sunday – Restoration Day/ Día de Restauración (more information on Restoration Day)

September/ Septiembre

24 – Thursday – Día de las Mercedes / Our Lady of Mercedes Day. (more information on Las Mercedes)

The Faro a Colón / Columbus Lighthouse reflected in the rain water filled reflecting pool.
The Faro a Colón / Columbus Lighthouse reflected in the rain water filled reflecting pool.

October / Octobre

12 – Monday – Día de Colón / Columbus Day (Information about the Faro a Colón / Columbus Lighthouse)

November/ Noviembre

9 – Monday – Día de la Constitución / Constitution Day (official date is the 6th but changed to make for a long weekend)

December/ Diciembre

25 – Friday – Día de Navidad / Christmas Day (How Dominicans celebrate Navidad / Christmas)

31 – Thursday – New Year’s Eve (New Year traditions)

The dates of all the Patronales/ Patron Saints celebrations are on the Patron Saint Celebrations Page.

Be aware that on the long weekends the cities usually empty out as most people head to the beaches or the country. Hotels are usually booked to capacity with Dominicans enjoying the long weekends. The highways in and out of the city can be very congested with people coming and going.

How To Say Months and Days In Spanish

JANUARY / ENERO | FEBRUARY / FEBRERO | MARCH / MARZO | APRIL / ABRIL | MAY / MAYO | JUNE / JUNIO | JULY / JULIO | AUGUST / AGOSTO | SEPTEMBER / SEPTIEMBRE | OCTOBER / OCTUBRE | NOVEMBER / NOVIEMBRE | DECEMBER / DICIEMBRE

Monday / Lunes | Tuesday / Martes | Wednesday / Miércoles | Thursday / Jueves | Friday / Viernes | Saturday / Sábado | Sunday / Domingo

Coffee

Dominican Republic Coffee / Café Republica Dominicana

Dominican Coffee is a wonderfully rich-flavored and dark roasted coffee. Café Dominicana is the pride and joy of the Dominican people.

A cup of hot Café Santo Domingo served in a restaurant. The cup interior says “Sabor que empieza en el Aroma” / Flavor that begins in the Aroma
A cup of hot Café Santo Domingo served in a restaurant. The cup interior says “Sabor que empieza en el Aroma” / Flavor that begins in the Aroma

Dominicans love their coffee. Most Dominicans will have their coffee black/ negro in a small cup with lots of sugar/ azucar. Some like to add some powdered cream to their cup. Try coffee with milk/café con leche. Coffee with lots of boiled milk/ medio pollo or American Coffee/ Café Americana this is espresso coffee served with hot water to thin it out.

Growing Coffee | Café Santo Domingo | Bialetti Coffee Maker or the Long Coffee Maker | Coffee Making Tips |

Dominican Republic coffees are usually very rich and robust. They have a small amount of acidity. The coffee production is mainly in the towns of Cibao, Bani, Ocoa, and Barahona in the Cordillera Septentrional, the Cordillera Central, the Sierra de Bahoruco and the Sierra de Neyba regions.

Coffee is grown in the cooler mountainous regions of Dominican Republic.
Coffee is grown in the cooler mountainous regions of Dominican Republic.

Growing Coffee

The coffee grown in this Caribbean region is a darker type of coffee that has a soft, sweet flavor. This dark Arabica coffee is unique, as it does not have the bitter taste that many dark roast coffees seem to have. The coffee from Dominican Republic ranks high in full-flavored coffee the price is very reasonable.

The Dominican coffee growers have been working very hard trying to make their coffee products known worldwide. Coffee has been growing on the island of Hispaniola for more than 265 years. Even with all these years growing coffee it is generally lover looked by coffee connoisseurs. The country is now recognized as top producers of organic coffee.

Coffee cherries growing on plants in Dominican Republic.
Coffee cherries growing on plants in Dominican Republic.

The coffee plant, belonging to the Rubiacede family, is a woody perennial evergreen with a main trunk with branches growing off of branches. The plant can grow tall but it is usually pruned down to make harvesting easier. It takes about 4 years for a plant to start producing. First comes the sweet-scented flowers, and then the little beans start growing, quite fast, where the flower once was. It will take about 35 weeks for the flower to turn into a green bean then red. When the coffee “cherry” is ripe it is bright red, firm and is shiny.

Our coffee is grown mostly in full shaded areas with maybe 10% of the coffee grown in the sun. Because of these variations, the country can grow coffee year-round. The lower altitude coffee is harvested in August to September with the higher regions harvesting through May or June.

Another great thing about the coffee grown here is that the shade required for growing is provided by larger trees. This is very good for the environment because the shade trees provide habitats for many species of birds, lizards and even orchid plants. About 90% of the coffee produced here is organic and environmentally friendly because most growers do not use chemical pesticides or fertilizers in the growing process.

Coffee in Dominican Republic is usually grown by small farms with entire families including the women and children all working together. There are some commercial farmers here but most of the growers either work alone or belong to a coop. These local farmers grow their coffee on hills and steep mountain slopes. It is usually picked by hand with each farm producer usually processing the coffee themselves in what is called a wet mill / beneficios humedos. This way only the ripe beans are picked saving the unripe to be picked when they are ready. They are sorted to get the good beans out of the bunch. The good beans float in water the bad stuff sinks. Then they are separated again according to the density of the bean, this is how the bean is graded. The better the coffee the denser the bean.

Raw coffee beans ready for roasting
Raw coffee beans ready for roasting

The beans are then fermented. This may take a day or so, depending on the bean type. Then they are dried, first in the sun then in a drying machine until they have just the right moisture ratio. The drying can take anywhere from 6 to 14 days. About 12-20 kg of export ready coffee will be produced from every 100 kg of coffee cherries harvested.

There is much more to the coffee growing and production process that is too much for most to concern themselves with. Yet most people never realize where their prized morning cup of coffee comes from and how much it takes to get that aromatic black liquid into your hands. So when you do have that first aromatic wake-up cup of java in the morning just think how much was involved to give you that morning or after dinner pleasure.

A coffee vendor, known as Cafero, selling coffee in Parque Colón in the Colonial Zone
A coffee vendor, known as Cafero, selling coffee in Parque Colón in the Colonial Zone

In the street you can buy coffee from vendors carrying little plastic, thimble-sized cups with sugar usually already added. If you do not like sugar in your coffee then you will be shocked with your first taste. Give it a try. It does taste wonderful and will give you back the bounce in your walk you lost while strolling in the hot Caribbean sun.

Café Santo Domingo on the store shelf
Café Santo Domingo on the store shelf

Café Santo Domingo

If you’ve had Cafe Santo Domingo (Amazon link) or some of the other brands of Dominican Coffee you’ll know why it is so highly recommended. Can’t have your coffee in Zona Colonial, don’t worry. Order some online. Thank you in advance for helping our hard working Dominican farmers.

While you are drinking our rich coffee. Close your eyes. Inhale the wonderful aroma. Envision the bright Caribbean sun while you’re under a fan in a little cafe enjoying the best coffee in all the world. Remember, you can have your coffee and drink it too!

Bialetti Moca Express coffee maker
Bialetti Moca Express coffee maker

Bialetti Moca Express

In my opinion, the BIALETTI coffee maker (Amazon link) (pictured here) is one of the best for making your Dominican Coffee. With its patented octagonal shape it makes this maker easy to spot. They produce over 16,000 coffee makers per day. Since I’ve been making coffee with mine (bought for me by my son for a Mother’s Day present when he was 7 years old, about 25 years ago. Recommended to him by his favorite lady in a little Italian coffee shop. He loved espresso coffee and really bought it for himself) drinking coffee made using any other method just doesn’t taste the same unless it is the traditional coffee made on a fogon.

The espresso machine and fresh ground coffee at Cafeteria Colon on Calle el Conde in Colonial Zone
The espresso machine and fresh ground coffee at Cafeteria Colon on Calle el Conde in Colonial Zone

COFFEE MAKING TIPS

an article written by © Michael Spencer 2003

It is very hard not to get a good cup of Dominican Coffee. Here are some tips to help you make a good cup great. At the end, I will tell you how to get the Perfect Cup.
Two things are critical:
1. Fresh roasted and freshly ground coffee.
2. Hot brewing water.

Fresh roasted coffee:

The freshest and best beans come directly from the roaster. But excellent roasted beans produced by any of the Country’s torre factories can be bought in any large and busy supermarket as they restock regularly. Beware of a bag of beans that has been sitting on a shelf in a Colmado or at an airport gift stand for who knows how long.

If you buy enough beans for a week, keeping them in an airtight container on the counter will be adequate storage. Any longer, and you should keep the airtight container in the freezer.

Without question, the beans should be ground just before brewing. Ground beans stale very rapidly because of the increased surface area exposed to oxygen, which is deadly.

Bagged or vacuum canned ground beans are convenient, but many of the subtleness and nuances of taste and flavor are lost in the process. Plus, once open, here comes oxygen to attack what is left. The last pot will be nowhere near the quality of the first.

Hot Brewing Water:

Over the centuries experience and experiment has taught that the best liberation of aroma and extraction of flavor is accomplished if the water is just off-boiling as it reaches the ground beans. (92º-96º C).

That is why the “long espresso” brewer used by everyone in the Dominican Republic makes such good coffee. Boiling water is forced up the inner tube by pressurized steam. When the water hits the ground coffee, the temperature is perfect.

Conventional drip brewers (Mr. Coffee, etc.) are also adequate, as most newer ones will make the water hot enough. A washable gold or nylon mesh filter, while less convenient, will produce a much better brew because the paper filters capture some of the tasty molecules and flattens the coffee. In either case, you will want to adjust the amount of ground coffee you use to suit your taste. Be generous.

Finally, do not brew more coffee than you are going to drink right then and there. Brewed coffee left to cool or even left warming on a hot plate looses body and flavor very rapidly. You will just be wasting the quality you paid for and worked to achieve.

Now, here is how to get the Perfect Cup:

You will be riding on a dirt trail up in the hills, heading for home, when from a neighbor’s house will issue the invitation, “desmontense.”

As all the family chairs are being set up in the shade, you will observe that one of the children is crushing roasted beans in the pilon, and a pot of water has been set to boil over a wood fire in the clay fogon. The beans will have been roasted earlier over that same fire, and will be from what your neighbor reserved from his crop before it was sold.

When the water reaches a rolling boil, the pot will be removed from the fire and a generous amount of crushed coffee and raw brown sugar added, together with, perhaps, a dash of powdered clove, cinnamon, vanilla, or cacao.

After settling for a few minutes, the dark brew will be strained through cloth, and served to you in the family’s best.

You will tilt back in the shade, sipping the brew, discussing the vagaries of the weather, the price of crops, and the nuisance of roaming pigs.

You will be drinking the Perfect Cup.

Larimar

Larimar From Dominican Republic

Larimar is a beautiful stone only found in the mountain area of Barahona, Dominican Republic. Larimar is found under the ground in deep mines. This rare stone is the color of the Caribbean Sea on a bright sunny day.

About Larimar | The Mines of Barahona | Gift Shops | The Powers of Larimar | Purchase Larimar

An artist is shaping and polishing raw Dominican Republic larimar that will be made into jewelry.
An artist is shaping and polishing raw Dominican Republic larimar that will be made into jewelry.

About Larimar

Volcanos many millions of years ago formed Larimar. Larimar is a type of Blue Pectolite that can be found all over the world, in Canada and the U.S.A. But, only Dominican Republic produces the rare variety known as Larimar. Larimar often has a white spider-veined look to it. It is very abundant in the Dominican Republic, for now. It can only be found in the mountains of the Barahona in the Southwest region of the country. Los Chupaderos, in the Los Checheses area. This is the only place where this gem appears on the terrestrial crust. When these mines have been depleted of this rare stone it may be gone forever.

Raw and sliced Larimar
Raw and sliced Larimar

It was originally thought that Larimar came out of the sea as pieces flowed down the river into the sea where they were originally found. There were mentions of this beautiful blue stone throughout history (The first written mention of the “blue stone” is when Father Miguel Domingo Fuertes Loren, November 1916, asked for permission to explore more for this rock he found. It was never mentioned in geological studies or literature and was forgotten).

A large piece of raw Dominican Republic Larimar that can be seen in the Larimar Museum in the Colonial Zone
A large piece of raw Dominican Republic Larimar that can be seen in the Larimar Museum in the Colonial Zone

In 1974 a Peace Corps member and a Dominican man, Miguel Méndez, located the source of the stone thus the name Larimar came into existence. Miguel Méndez’s daughter’s name was Larissa and the Spanish name for the sea is mar. So the name Larimar was born.

Here are some good looking pieces Larimar jewelry for sale at Amazon.com

An opening to a Larimar mine in Barajona region of Dominican Republic
An opening to a Larimar mine in Barajona region of Dominican Republic

The Mines

If you should decide to make a trek to visit the Larimar mines in the mountainous area of Barahona it is a great experience. These mines can only be accessed by long, bumpy, rocky and dusty roads and the trip is not an easy one. If you make this trek you will feel as if you were going back in time. It would be a truly memorable experience.

The larimar mines are long, deep holes in the ground formed by the chimneys of the volcano. The mining is very dangerous and done primitively using manual labor. These local miners have no modern tools to extract the Larimar. There are no safety measures takes in the mines here in the country so there are many collapses and many lives have been lost. Most of these miners live near the mines in small villages and have done this work their entire lives.


Larimar jewelry sold in a gift shop in the Colonial Zone, Dominican Republic.
Larimar jewelry sold in a gift shop in the Colonial Zone, Dominican Republic.

Gift Shops

Larimar jewelry can be found in gift shops and jewelry stores throughout the Dominican Republic. Larimar jewelry is one of the tourists’ favorite purchases when visiting the country.

Larimar is graded according to its colors. The volcanic blue color is considered high quality. The cheaper jewelry coloring is usually white to light blue. The green-colored stones are lower quality also unless the green is very intense.

Larimar jewelry found in the gift shop La Placita in the Colonial Zone.
Larimar jewelry found in the gift shop La Placita in the Colonial Zone.

To see some great examples of larimar make sure to visit the Larimar Museum on Calle Isabel la Católica near Padre Billini in Colonial Zone. Also, almost every gift shop will have some larimar jewelry for sale in a wide price range.

Larimar is rated between .5 and 7 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness.

Polished Larimar slices.
Polished Larimar slices.

The Powers of Larimar

The cosmic powers of Larimar are said to help one view events from a different perspective. The color of Larimar looks like the sky blending into the sea with a touch of clouds or foam. Water and air are the most changeable of the physical elements. Its cool and calming color helps teach us how to change anger into a more peaceful form of feeling expression. It softens, enlightens and heals in a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual way.

Larimar is said to stimulate the heart, throat, third eye and crown chakras helping with inner wisdom and outer manifestation of this wisdom. It represents peace and clarity. It radiates healing and love energy. It is recommended for people who are stressed. Larimar helps a person to communicate from the soul thus promoting the flow of expression and creative ideas yet its grounding qualities help one to make these ideas turn into reality.

Larimar tells us that life, like the skies and seas, is always changing and in chaos yet underneath this seemingly chaotic exterior is the peace of the eternal soul.

Larimar Cabochons ready to be made into jewelry.
Larimar Cabochons ready to be made into jewelry.

Purchase Larimar

If you cannot make the trip to come to the Dominican Republic to purchase your own larimar you can always buy it online at Amazon. There is a wide variety of beautiful pieces from which to choose. Here are just a few samples.

Beautiful Dominican Republic larimar from Amazon