This was my third Christmas season in the Dominican Republic and while I can’t speak for all parts of the island, nor for all expat rock-dwelling transplants like me, but I LOVE that it’s still about family here and not just gift-giving. Don’t get me wrong – some commercialism still exists here. For example, I would still not head out shopping in Santo Domingo or other big cities here during the week between Christmas and Three Kings Day for a million pesos. There is still a lot of frenzied shopping going on, but I feel it might be the holiday import tax break for bringing items from the States combined with some really awesome Black Friday-like deals.  And in the countryside where we live, on the North Coast far from the big shopping centers, it is easy to ignore that aspect of the holiday season completely.

Typical island restaurant with Christmas lights

 We were invited to a Dominican family dinner on Christmas Eve where they served us al fresco in the large palapa they have for family dinners and evening hang outs. There were three generations present and we had a lovely traditional dinner of slow-roasted pork, bean, rice, salad (and also a traditional bean curd mixed with meat wrapped in a banana leaf – a lot like Mexican tamales), and grapes and apples for dessert.

We all ate and I spoke mostly in my broken Spanish and they were seemingly impressed that I have no pride and will try and say anything, regardless of what I end up actually saying. I like to think they appreciate the effort.  Especially los ninos. There’s nothing like the honesty that comes from children who won’t think twice about laughing at your fumbling accent and words that don’t make sense! And just like children anywhere on planet Earth, these ones got tired and cranky too and had to be sent to bed.

 We had great discussions about progress in the Dominican economy and industries and what NOT to emulate from the North. Lots of wine and ocean breezes make for a pleasant Christmas Eve with new friends! Then it was a short drive back to the casa, pulling up some loungers on the pool deck, and looking at the moonlit clouds and starry sky. We love that view as much as the ocean! And it’s December 24!  WHAT?! (As a midwestern native, I’m not sure how many Caribbean Christmases it will take before I forget a lifetime of cold… not so often snowy, but definitely gray holidays. I’ll let you know what the magic number is for me when I get there.)

Christmas morning we spent having a lovely breakfast with our neighbors on their pool deck overlooking the Atlantic.  Priceless!

The ONLY negative I might be able to voice about holidays on my rock would be the VERY LOUD MUSIC that wafts up from town from several locations playing very different music: Latin, Dance, Reggae… all with subwoofers pounding. If the wind blows just right, it sounds like three bands are having a Battle of the Bands on our pool deck! The whole house vibrates. There is no escape from this island soundtrack and no sleep to be had until the power fails (which for better or worse, is happening less and less, but that means the party continues).

It would seem the Dominicans are known for being loud partiers and are pretty proud of this fact. If your car trunk must be modified and reconstructed to fit a speaker bigger than the width of said vehicle than you, my friend, are a stud in Dominican culture. Not so surprisingly, I see no women driving around with these tricked-out-noise-making manhood amplifiers.

But, I am not here to change the country I have adopted, but rather to take the many many good things with the very few bad. It’s a more than fair trade for views like this over the breakfast table!

How was the holiday season for you on your rock?

Wishing you a happy start to 2018 – from my rock to yours!

Written By:

Rene Lee

Current Rock of Residence:

The Big Rock of the Dominican Republic

Island Girl Since:


Originally Hails From:


Rene once made the mistake of exclaiming to the heavens, “I would rather live anywhere other than Southeastern Michigan!” And guess what? The Gods deemed her in need of a lesson in humility. She then spent the next 20+ years raising a family in… yep, you guessed it: Metro Detroit! Having learned that one’s locale most definitely shapes one’s quality of life, she set off to find a tropical paradise to call home. Stop numero uno was Cabrera, a little farming town on the north coast of the Dominican Republic away from tourists and resorts. Next stop was… no wait, there was no next place to visit. She fell in love with Cabrera and has a cute little casa with a pool on a hill taking in the trade winds off the wide blue Atlantic Ocean. Much better.

She’s currently a part-time rock dweller in transition to full-time. She’s learning that her life can be much simpler, that deadlines and meetings and the rush-rush of a North American modern existence isn’t real life. Young Rene traveled and read books and painted, met amazing people from all over the world, and never owned a TV.  Mature Rene looks forward to those things again on her big rock in the Caribbean Sea.

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