Sustainable Tourism in the Dominican Republic
One thing I really love about the blogging and video hosting side of my life is I get to do things I have never even dreamed about. Opportunities come out of the blue, and sometimes I’m lucky enough to say yes to them.
Such as last year’s Thailand adventures, which included elephant riding and cave kayaking:
This year, MB invited me to the Dominican Republic (fondly called DR for short)—someplace that wasn’t even on my bucket list! Not that I haven’t heard great things about the DR; remember when the Kardashians went to the Dominican Republic on a family vacation? That was the first time I saw how fun this destination could be.
On a more personal note, my friend Amy went to the DR last year and had a really great time. I have been to Barbados and Jamaica, which I loved. The Caribbean (and islands in general) has always appealed to me, I just had no idea about all the things the DR had to offer.
My trip to the Dominican Republic was organized around the concept of sustainable tourism. The concept makes me think of eco-lodges or something like Burning Man, where visitors leave a destination with as little impact as possible. This took it to another level.
With a strong influence from DR native and now New Yorker Waldo Tejeda, Tequia Experiences seeks to find unique experiences from local businesses, many of them women (which of course appealed to both my non-profit roots and my life as a female entrepreneur).
I learned so much about how something small, such as choosing organic chocolate at my local Whole Foods, could help send Waldo (we met a LOT of Waldos on this trip), a 21-year-old Dominican man, to college in his pursuit of a career as a radio announcer. In the process, his co-op village of 60 sustainable chocolate farmers can also benefit from the skills and knowledge he will gain as he furthers his education.
I met Esparanza and her daughter, who traveled for hours from Samana to Santo Domingo to share Esparanza’s story of how she took a very humble restaurant, and turned into an eco-lodge named Sonidos del Yaque, which offers comfortable rooms and an organic farm and restaurant.
Esparanza’s story really touched both Mary Anne and me, and now we have dreams of helping them (and women like them) by creating some kind of program or training about how to use Social Media to spread the word about businesses and projects such as theirs. Not just from the standpoint of writing about them (as we are now), but perhaps by sharing some of our best practices about how we built up our respective companies (Jetset Extra and VanityGirlHollywood.com) using Social Media. But I digress.
Back to our DR trip…
For those of you who know me, I’m not exactly a full-on adventure eco traveler. I’d be faking that funk. There are plenty of amazing bloggers and journalists who write from that point of view. I’m just a girl with a lot of diverse interests, who loves luxury as well as charity, so you will see a wide array of my personal DR experiences as my blog posts (and our awesome videos) unfold.
Which is kind of what I loved most about the DR. According to Waldo, things such as slavery self-dissolved as labor-intensive sugar cane farming was replaced with the more equitable practice of cattle farming.
We met a man named Octavio, who, while he looks European with his fair skin, proudly claims he is mulatto and embraces the black side of his family. To me, that was the essence of the DR: tropical, diverse, and colorfully vibrant.
Thanks for dropping by and PLEASE, if you’ve been to the DR and have something to add to the mix, tweet us @JETSETextra and @vanitygirl or comment on our collective Pinterest board. And, of course, you can leave a very welcome comment on this post!
Your Hollywood Insider,