Cabarete: Why You Come Back and Still Love It

In a few weeks I’ll be celebrating my first anniversary of living in Cabarete. Before that day last August when I arrived in Cabarete, I hadn’t stepped foot on my island in eight years. While I am originally from Santo Domingo, I spent the better part of the past decade living in several places in the world, but no town was ever able to soothe my wanderlust-until I landed in Cabarete.

A year ago everyone told me that once I’d seen life in Cabarete I’d be back again—if I ever left. I remember laughing; from a monastery in Nepal to an apartment in New York City to a little house near Addis Ababa (the capital of Ethopia), I have lived in some of the most vibrant places in the world and I definitely didn’t think a town with only two streets had much to show me that I hadn’t seen before. Turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong. This past year has been a year of discovering and rediscovering the culture that shaped my childhood:

  1. The harder you slam your dominoes the better your Sunday afternoon will be.This is a scientific fact. There is nothing like spending the day in bonche with all of my local friends listening to the old bachatas my mother sang to me on the days she cleaned the house. After we’re done playing, we barbecue or make a huge sanchocho and feed the whole neighborhood family-style. In essence, that’s what we are: a family made up of Dominicans, both local to the community and from all over the island, including our friends from abroad. And everyone knows that the family that slams dominoes together stays together. At least until it comes down to who gets the last chuleta; then you’re on your own.
  2. There is a right way and a wrong way to get on and off a motorcycle. This is also a scientific fact. Passenger + right side of the motorcycle = Dominican tattoo. I never knew how complicated that was. Now I know, and while I haven’t had the pleasure of getting one of those yet I’ve seen enough friends walk away with a lovely souvenir of their tropical vacation—now they’ll never forget their vacation in Cabarete!
  3. I have learned to appreciate the great people I meet from all over the world and the time we spend together. After a year, I’m finally getting used to the two going away parties we have to throw every week. It used to make me sad when I first arrived. I would spend a week or two or maybe a few months getting to know some of the most amazing people only to have them leave eventually. But I’ve come to realize that in Cabarete “goodbye” really is “see you later”… because everyone does eventually come back.

If you came here for a specific trip and find yourself still here, what made you stay? If you keep finding yourself back in Cabarete, what keeps you coming back?

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Posted by mikebastin

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