Category Archives: RESOURCES

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

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.

Larimar also has been given different names over the years including Caribbean Turquoise and The Dolphin Stone.

Here are some good looking pieces of 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


Jacinto de Agua Water Hyacinth

Jacinto de Agua / Water Hyacinth

The Jacinto de Auga is a perennial water plant that is an unwanted invader when outside of its native habitat. This water plant grows rapidly and can be a tremendous nuisance. The thick green plant can obstruct the waterways and prevent light from penetrating the water depleting oxygen for the underwater environments. It is deemed to be one of the worst invasive weeds in the world.

Jacinto de Auga / Water Hyacinth floating on Rio Ozama at the Puente Flotante, Colonial Zone, Dominican Republic
Jacinto de Auga / Water Hyacinth floating on Rio Ozama at the Puente Flotante, Colonial Zone, Dominican Republic

About The Jacinto de Auga | Uses For The Water Hyacinth | Environmental Impact of Jacinto de Auga to the Dominican Republic

Information About The Jacinto de Auga also known as the Water Hyacinth

The free-floating aquatic plant is known as Jacinto de auga, Flor de agua, la Turbia, Camalote, in English is the common water hyacinth. The scientific name is Eichhornia crassipes. Its origin is the Amazon water basin. Now, it is found throughout South America.

The plant is extremely invasive and is exceedingly difficult and maybe impossible to eliminate once it gets ahold. It grows rapidly (it can double in size in just 2 weeks) being one of the fastest growing plants ever. The water hyacinth produces thousands of seeds that can live for over 28 years. The plant rarely attaches itself to the ground. It floats freely with its long roots dangling down from the green plant. The new plants grow off the mother plant through runners or stolons.

The pretty flower of the Jacinto de Auga / Water Hyacinth
The pretty flower of the Jacinto de Auga / Water Hyacinth.

The flower of the water Hyacinth is lovely. It grows on a long stalk. The small flowers are lavender to a pinkish color.

These invasive plants cannot survive in saltwater. Once they work their way down rivers and end up in the sea, they die off.

View of the Colonial Zone with the Jacinto de Auga / Water Hyacinth backed up against the Puente Flotante, Rio Ozama, Dominican Republic
View of the Colonial Zone with the Jacinto de Auga / Water Hyacinth backed up against the Puente Flotante, Rio Ozama, Dominican Republic

Uses For The Water Hyacinth

There are some positive aspects of the fast-growing Jacinto de Auga. The roots absorb waste and pollutants and convert carbon dioxide to oxygen. They can be made into fuel. The water hyacinth is also excellent for use as compost. More and more uses for the fast growing water plant are being researched and discovered.

The Dirección General de Dragas, Presas y Balizamiento de la Armada de República Dominicana moving the Jacinto de Auga / Water Hyacinth on Rio Ozama at the Puente Flotante, Colonial Zone, Dominican Republic
The Dirección General de Dragas, Presas y Balizamiento de la Armada de República Dominicana moving the Jacinto de Auga / Water Hyacinth on Rio Ozama at the Puente Flotante, Colonial Zone, Dominican Republic

Environmental Impact of Jacinto de Auga to the Dominican Republic

In the Dominican Republic, the Jacinto de Auga is a nuisance. It obstructs the waterways making it difficult for boats to pass through. After a rain, it breaks loose and works its way down the rivers it has invaded. The green cover makes a good hiding place for some fish species. The issue is that the water hyacinth is also a trash collector. Inside the bright green leaves garbage collects. In Santo Domingo, the plant and the garbage it carries collects behind the Puente Flotante / Floating Bridge.

The Dirección General de Dragas moving the Jacinto de Auga / Water Hyacinth on Rio Ozama out to the Caribbean Sea
The Dirección General de Dragas moving the Jacinto de Auga / Water Hyacinth on Rio Ozama out to the Caribbean Sea

The bridge needs to be opened so the Dirección General de Dragas, Presas y Balizamiento de la Armada de República Dominicana (General Directorate of Dredgers, Dams and Lighthouses of the Navy of the Dominican Republic) can push the plants down to the Caribbean Sea where they die from the saltwater. The garbage, plastic and other trash is released to float freely, contaminating the local city beaches. The waste then floats out to sea adding to the giant trash islands in our oceans.

Reference
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontederia_crassipes and
http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Eichhornia+crassipes

Helps – Going Out & Drinking

Helps – Going Out & Drinking

When visiting the Dominican Republic everyone must go out and walk around and take in the scenery and culture of this island country. Make sure to have some liquid refreshments with the locals and enjoy yourself. Just make sure that you are aware of your surroundings while you enjoy.

Going out in the Day and Night

*Dominican Time. Dominicans, in general, do not view time like most people, which is typical in most tropical climates. No one moves fast unless it is in a motor vehicle. When a Dominican tells me they will be there at a certain time I always ask if that is Dominican time or North American time. Or course I say this with a laugh and receive a good laugh in return. But it is very true. When told that someone will meet you in 1 hour it very well could mean 1 hour. But most likely it means 2-3 hours, tomorrow, or maybe never. Ahora (now), Ahorita (later), have no real meaning here in the Caribbean.

Calle el Conde, Colonial Zone, at night
Calle el Conde, Colonial Zone, at night

*Walking at night Walking around at night, especially on the Malecon in Santo Domingo and other parts of the country is fun. The view of the Caribbean waves hitting the coral cliffs can be breathtaking. Please be aware of your surroundings. You could be walking in front of a grand hotel and the next lot or building could be an abandoned where there are no lights.

The Malecon of Santo Domingo along the Caribbean Sea
The Malecon of Santo Domingo along the Caribbean Sea

If you walk along the Malecon stay where it is well lit and where there are people. If you want to travel to different places along the road and feel uncomfortable doing this there are always taxis or if you’d feel more comfortable, the hotels can get you a taxi to move from place to place. Bad things can happen, as with any place, here or in any country. Just remember, if you wouldn’t walk in that place in your hometown don’t walk in that place here.

*Guia/ Tour Guides Tour guides can be helpful and informative. If you want to know about the history in Colonial Zone or feel better walking with a local who knows the ropes a paid guide would be the way to go.

Guides can be helpful in taking you to the sights you want to see. They can also be expensive. Always discuss the price for their services in the beginning so you can decide if it is worth it for their services. Many will say it costs nothing for them to guide you but they WILL want a tip. Generally, a guide will try to rush you make you move at a less than leisurely pace. This way they can get you to a gift shop or finish with your tour so they can help another tourist.

Visiting a gift shop with a guide can be costly. The guide will receive a little kick back from any gift shop they take you to. Your bargaining leverage will not as good in these shops when you have a guide since the shops have to pay a percentage (usually 20% of what you spend) to the guide.

Guides can be helpful in keeping bothersome beggars away. They can protect you from the bad guys also. After they take you on your tour, especially if you tip well, they will be your friend for life.

Some of the local street dogs spot a tourist or friend
Some of the local street dogs spot a tourist or friend

*Street dogs are everywhere. Most of these dogs are starved both for food and for love. You can feed them if you want but you take the chance of having them follow you on your entire vacation or at least while you continue your walk around town. They might tell their friend dogs about your friendliness (dog talk). You could end up with an entourage of furry friends following you wherever you go. 10 dogs following behind a group of tourists, I have seen it and it is quite funny! Dogs know who the tourists and dog-friendly people are. Really, some of the dogs are very nice and many of the neighbors take care of them and feed them. Most are very friendly and sweet and are looking for a little attention. (I adopted 2 street dogs and have helped many to find their forever homes. Read The Dominican Dog Blog to meet my dogs and some of our special local street dogs.)

Appropriate clothing for some museums and tourist places in important. Wearing shorts, miniskirts, and halter-tops in churches is not permitted. They will not permit you to enter if you are not dressed appropriately. If you plan on touring it is best to either wear pants, crop pants, or a skirt for the ladies. Men should wear a collared shirt (not sleeveless) or t-shirt. *note – many places that do not permit inappropriate dress now provide a wrap for people to use as a cover-up.

In the past Dominicans did not wear short pants in the streets except for maybe on the weekends in their own neighborhoods. They have lightened up slightly with this and you will see shorts and really short shorts but NEVER beachwear in the city streets. It is a joke here that when one wears shorts they automatically look like a tourist.

Pick pockets and thieves are watching. Don’t carry a wallet in a back pocket. Anyplace in the entire world, one should never make it easy for a pick-pocket to grab your wallet or purse. If it is possible don’t carry a purse or wallet. Just keep money in a pocket. Maybe a few different pockets in case you do get pickpocketed or robbed you will not lose everything. Spread your money around. Put a few bills in a shoe, bra, money belt, just in case.

Jewelry. When going out do not wear good jewelry. In fact, just do not wear jewelry at all. Maybe a small pair of inexpensive earrings and a ring or 2 if you really need to. But really, why make for more problems. If you do get robbed or lose something it could ruin your entire vacation. So why not just leave all the good stuff locked up in the hotel. Better yet, do not bring that stuff when you travel, this way you won’t have to worry.

Purses and Backpacks. When walking while carrying a purse or backpack try and always carry it on the side away from the road. Keeping it on the shoulder that is against a building or wall. This will make it a little more difficult for a passing motorbike rider to grab. This is something I have learned (from experience) and use no matter what country I am in.

Be aware when using public transportation. Watch for people bumping into you, standing in line close or crowding into a public car. All these places and instances are perfect for a thief. More information about Public Transportation in DR.

Limpia Bota/ Shoe Shine Boys are everywhere. I suggest that you take the time to get a shoeshine. These shoe shine people do work hard and a shine will never hurt. Usually, a shine costs around $10 to $20 pesos (and a little tip if you are pleased with the shine). One important thing. – DO NOT GIVE NON-PESO COINS TO THE STREET PEOPLE or when paying for anything. It is useless to them because no place will exchange pocket change for pesos. No exchange house will take coins. If you want to give non-Dominican pesos to someone, especially the people in the streets make sure it is the paper type.

Go out late. When going out at night to a bar to dance, drink, or people watch. Remember, Dominicans usually go out late at night after it has cooled off. This means that bars are not busy until late. Some places are empty before midnight, especially on the weekends. Take a nap and wait to go out unless you want to be the only person in the place.

Drinking – Imbibing

Hide the smell. Remember, in true Dominican fashion, if you have a drink and need to go somewhere where you don’t want the alcohol smell lingering, make sure to (as I call it “suck a Euk”). Get a Hall’s (eucalyptus) candy, called mentoehol here, at the Colmado to get rid of the smell. It is the Dominican way.

STAY HYDRATED. Drinking mass quantities of alcohol without sufficient water intake can be bad, especially in such a hot climate. Alcohol does not hydrate your body as water does.

A nice cold NORMAL Presidente beer at the beach
A nice cold NORMAL Presidente beer at the beach

Presidente Beer. Presidente is the favorite beer in DR. When you order make sure to specify LÑight or Regular. I always laugh. The bottle does not say “Regular”. It is either a beer or a light. Not here. You need to specify Regular or Light or usually you will get a light beer.

You should try a Presidente con Clamato (beer with clamato juice) at least once. You can see this strange mix being drunk by many Dominicans in the Colmados or while playing dominoes. Clamato is a tomato type juice with a clam taste. The ratio is in general 3 to 5 parts beer to 1 part clamato. Pour the beer into the plastic glass then add the clamato, give it a little swirl to mix and enjoy. If you are a bottle drinker take a drink to give you room in your bottle then add the clamato directly into the bottle. It takes some of the bite out of the beer. It is said that if you drink clamato with your beer you will not get drunk…don’t believe it!

For the dead. When opening a bottle of alcohol remember to pour a few drops onto the ground or floor. While doing this you must say “Por los muertos” / “For the dead”. It is a Dominican tradition to give the dead a little drink before they start enjoying themselves.

Some Brugal rum bottles are covered with a strong yellow netting, which if opened haphazardly could cause undue stress when trying to enjoy your beverage. Some bottles are not entirely covered with the netting making it easier to gain access to the smooth liquid waiting to be drunken inside the bottle. Just untie from the bottom and remove the net.

Mixing some drinks nice and strong
Mixing some drinks nice and strong

Remember, the beer is strong and it can seem stronger in the hot climate. Usually, the drinks are mixed strong in the bars. If you are going to be drinking all day (or night) try what I do. If you like beer I suggest starting with a nice cold one. Then, if you go out, switch to a mixed drink. For me rum is best. Get a bottle so you can mix it yourself if possible. In a bar is called “un servicio” which is a bottle of your choice, a mixer and a bucket of ice. This way you are able to mix your own drinks and it is also more economical. When you mix your drink mix it weak. If you are ordering by the drink tell them to mix it “suave” which means soft or not strong. This way you can last the night without any ill effects.

The dictionary of the Dominicana Gringa (written and published in my mind only) states definition – “ALCOHOL ABUSE = when you spill a glass, drop a bottle, or in any way waste your alcoholic beverage. This includes the act of spewing, disgorging, expelling, emitting or projecting. To put it bluntly throwing-up or vomiting”. LOL!