Puerto Plata (Port of Silver) is located on the northern coast, 130 miles northwest of Santo Domingo the capital. Blessed with beautiful stretches of pristine beaches, lush green valleys, and cradled by a chain of majestic coastal mountains, Puerto Plata was described as “the fairest land under heaven” by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Today, Puerto Plata is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Dominican Republic. It offers popular resort developments with activities, entertainment, land and water sports, as well as casinos and spas.
As you arrive in the Dominican Republic, which occupies the greater part of the island of Hispaniola, you can feel the Spanish influence in the air. And no wonder, it was here that Christopher Columbus landed in 1492 to claim the land for Spain. He thought, of course, that he had just annexed India to the Spanish Empire, and immediately named his son, Diego, as Governor.
It wasnt only the conquest that had inspired Chris, but also the Queen of Spain who had promised that if his plan to reach India by sailing west opened the way to Indias jewels and spices, she would bestow upon him the hand of her daughter in marriage. If Columbus simply dropped off the edge of the earth, as most people expected there would be nothing lost and the Princess would soon find a more sensible suitor.
Columbus did, however, establish Isabella (named, naturally, after his Queen), the first European town in the New World. Several other Spanish settlements were set up as well since the land was arable and the climates superb for year-round production of food crops. But the Spanish, their heads filled with dreams of spices and gold (so much more glamorous than carrots), set their eyes further a field. Both Mexico and Peru had been “discovered” (although advanced civilizations already existed as huge cities and temples were there to be seen by all) and there were rumors of more fabulous gold mines to be plundered. These magic lands now attracted the dreamers, and the Spanish colony of Hispaniola was almost neglected. But not by the French. While Spanish backs were turned, the French were able to take Hispaniola with very little resistance. Thus, the second largest island in the Caribbean (topped only by Cuba) became a French possession and was renamed Haiti. The Spaniards suddenly realizing they had been outsmarted by the French (and by the pirates and freebooters of nearby Tortuga who saw the island as an excellent headquarters), and fought valiantly for its return. But three hundred years passed before the Spanish returned, and even then, one third of Hispaniola remained French and remains Francophone today as Haiti. The Spaniards two thirds of Hispaniola became know as the Dominican Republic.
Today the “Dom Rep,” as it is affectionately called, has become a top tourist destination, not only for its beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters, but also for its vivid nightlife, its hypnotizing music, and its histrionic landmarks. The first Cathedral in America was built here in 1512. It is impossible to be in the Dominican Republic and not be seduced by the rhythms of Spain. The Spanish architecture, the friendly people, and above all the beauty of the landscape ensure that visitors will return again and again.
Talk the Talk
Many people in this lovely land speak English, but you might like for politeness sake to throw in a few Spanish phrases of your own.
Como le va? How are you doing?
Muchas gracias. Thanks a lot
De nada! Dont mention it!
El gusto es mio. My pleasure!
Nos Vemos. Well be seeing each other.
Feliz viaje. Happy traveling.