Puerto Plata and Community Based Tourism

By Sara Archambault

Being given the opportunity to travel thousands of kilometres away with 11 of my classmates and 2 of my instructors to the beautiful Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic was a once in a lifetime experience. It was humbling and eye-opening to the way in which other people live in different places. The first thing I noticed was the people and how friendly and kind they were to us, regardless of what they may be experiencing and that caused me to feel a great appreciation for my life back in Canada. I was flooded with emotions and a renewal of energy for change. I was finally able to look through the community development lens in real life situations while I endured this experience and I was able to relate it back to the community economic development principles.

Fort San Felipe in Puerto Plata

Some of the community-based tourism excursions that we were able to participate in was a cable car ride, a visit to Fort San Felipe with a monument to General Gregorio LuPeron, Sosua Beach, a hike to Los Charcos, an amber mine, a week stay at Tubagua Eco lodge, and the Pedro Garcia coffee village. These experiences were full of breathtaking views and once in a lifetime experiences, it also highlights many of what Puerto Plata has to offer to tourists. These experiences relate to the principles of community economic development because of the use of locally produced goods such as food products or handmade souvenirs. It also displays the local skill development of the community members by utilizing their skills, knowledge, and social capital to create income. I feel that community-based tourism is essential in getting money back into the economy of Puerto Plata because it does not see as many tourists as other communities, and it also gets tourists off of resorts and into local communities. CBT is a great way to bring back those tourists and for them to see what Puerto Plata has to offer and hopefully with the recent revitalization in tourism, their economy can get the kick-start that it needs

– Cultivate the habit of being grateful-

View from the cable car ride in San 
Felipede De Puerto Plata 
The view from the Tubagua Ecolodge Puerto Plata


Sosua Beach in Puerto Plata

My Flip Trip Experience in Puerto Plata

Written By: Abena Martin

To begin with, it’s hard to put into words the way I feel while experiencing the flip trip in the Dominican Republic. However, overall this experience has been such a delight as well as life-changing. This was a wonderful and a great way of viewing and identifying the different communities of Puerto Plata. During this flip trip, I was able to explore a few communities as well as experience some of the extraordinary excursion Puerto Plata has to offer. For instance, some of these tourist sites entailed the cable car ride, 27 waterfalls, Amber Cove, hiking trip down the mountain, attending Sosua beach, viewing the military fort, God’s pool (Waterfalls), as well as giving the chance to pour a concrete floor for the UNPC office among other great things. Furthermore, I was giving the chance to explore life on a whole other level. I got the chance to view a different part of the world that I otherwise wouldn’t have gotten the chance to see up close in personal.

Moreover, getting a better understanding of life and having a better understanding of new-comers. Honestly, the thing that impressed me most, I would have to say was visiting the neighborhood of Neuvo Renacer and seeing some community member’s drive and in order to see and make a difference. For one thing, there was a community member name (Sandra) who was also known as the Mother Theresa, who was the community advocate, pastor, as well as other major roles she has played. Puerto Plata is a beautiful island with such richness of culture, during my stay in this great place I have come to realize the essence of how gifted this island truly is. Overall, this trip was a memorable experience with such overflowing knowledge to gain as well as looking at community structures in a different lens. I feel ecstatic to have been giving the chance to go on an excursion such as this standard. Besides, I was participating, gaining knowledge, as well as memories.

Therefore, this experience had made me be humble and understanding, and opened in allowing new advantages to not scare me rather than enlighten me. My heart is still smiling with such gratitude, this flip trip is like a gift that I will always cherish and hold close to my heart. I would recommend that students get involved with this great opportunity and challenge themselves to do something incredible that otherwise they wouldn’t have done. When individuals take a vacation, they usually sit on the resorts not really giving the chance to go view the area where they are residing at, in an up-close and personal manner.

República Dominicana

Insight on Community-Based Tourism

By David Cavalier

March 6, 2019

Eight days from snow fall to sunshine, from city life to country-side life, from heated showers to to cold showers, from waking up to noisy cars, bus and trains to waking up to melodic birds, dogs and roosters. Why am I speaking about this transition, what could be so interesting about this blog. Lets continue reading and we will find out. Lets expand on a life changing, career gearing and community economic understanding experience. This was sponsored by Sage and Centennial College for Community Development students who are taking the course Community Economic Development.

“The What!!!”

  • Hands On experiences of successful, progressive, and unsuccessful Community-Based Tourism.
  • Community Economic Development
  • Identifying Community Economic Development Principles throughout experiences

Journey Just Starting to Puerto Plata

One Stop Please!!! To Puerto Plata

Our arrival was very warm and welcoming. Many of my classmates have never been to a tropical island so their expressions were so assuming and innocent. I really appreciated being back in the tropics being a tropical islander myself #JamaicanForever

“The Gut!!!”

Most days I woke up feeling thanking, feeling fit and ready for whatever activity we had planned for that day. Its was exciting learning but my true excitement came from learning with my peers. My classmates are one big drama and I love them, especially my wonderful teachers. I was impressed by the many ways community tourism could flourish and even compete against big multinational corporations tourism. Even incorporating or bonding with cruise ships in order to give tourist a real cultural experience while also re-channeling their spending directly into the communities and the country.

“So What!!!”

I assumed that local communities had nothing to do with Economic Development and that this was solely Government issues and Foreign Investors. I assumed that a community played no part in Tourism also and that the more an hotel had to offer the better the visitors experience. I was so WRONG.

We drove around parts of the island where we did some money exchange, engaged in very insightful teaching and sharing of history by our dear friend and tour guide, and of course some sightseeing. We then stopped at the Fortress of San Felipe where we listened to more historical teachings and took some of the most beautiful pictures, thus far at least. We then made our way to Cable Car Puerto Plata. Along with this journey as we waited for the cable car we stop and dance to some sweet cultural Merengue music that was being played in the lobby-like area by four locals. The vibe, the atmosphere, and the love were felt, and as we left, many of us gave financial donations in their donation bucket. After that experience, we encountered a magician at the front of the car stand.

To end our trip we visited the 27 Waterfalls (Los Charcos), due to the low water we only had access to a few falls instead of all of them. This is the most successful community-based tourism that we had the privileged to experience (had fun) and take notes on.

Our trip concluded with a night just as eventful as the day

  • Tired – NO
  • Hungry – NO
  • Bored – NO
  • Happy – YES

“Now what!!!”

I personally appreciated this trip, and all the experience. My understanding grew, my interest change, my perspective shifted, so much has happened. Sage! You made HUGE impact on this young man’s life. Centennial College! You made a HUGE impact on this young man’s life.

Beautiful

As a tourist I will be more mindful when visiting other countries and try to get the real cultural experience, invest my time and money into community based tourism. As a Community Development Worker I will encourage the true nature of Community Economic Development and apply all I have learn, seen and practiced in both theory and practical.

My amazing experience in Puerto Plata

I just came back from Puerto Plata in the Dominica Republic. It was an amazing experience in my life and this educational international taught me a lot of things.

When we arrived at the airport in Dominica, the weather and light breeze welcomed us very kindly and at the moment I already had a great impression with this country. While moving to the place we would stay, I had been excited. Where we stayed is called ecolodge, beautiful place ever surrounded by beautiful nature, and the view from there was breathtaking. As the name suggests the place is a very ecological place: water service stops after dinner, usually get a cold shower, and taking shower is under 10 min… It might sound hard for you but you can also see how water is valuable in DR. I adapted very quickly the environment. And I appreciated that what I had even very limited, and with the beautiful nature and the weather, it did not bother me at all.


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My high light of the trip is visiting a community called Nuevo Ranacer in Puerto Plata. We were taught by second-year students that the community has been facing many social problems. Walking around the neighborhood opened my eyes wider. Local people are so heartwarming, kind, and welcome to us. Despite the social issues, people are very positive and look forward to their future. Especially, I can’t forget the Children’s bright innocent smiles.

Another high light of the trip is a merengue dance party with a community member in Tabaugua. It was almost my first dance experience in my life and honestly, it was the biggest challenging for me! But once the music was started, I forgot my shyness and enjoyed merengue dance! The party continued until late and It was a great opportunity to communicate with local people. I had so much fun with my classmates and community members. The best night ever!!

Overall, I learned so many things from this Flip-Trip. It was very practical as a community development work student, it also gave me to take a moment to be thankful for having wonderful people, and beautiful nature. Thank you, Sage to give me this opportunity, and thank you for my professors and all my classmates!

Trip to Puerto Plata Sponsered by SAGE

Written by Abdifatah Hussein

The Trip

As a group of students we were offered the opportunity to visit the community of Puerto Plata and learn about the community development skills, observe the economy of the people, and build skills among other things. It was an eye-opening experience, where a student like me was able to see an entire world outside of Canada and experience something I wouldn’t have been able to without Sage.
We got to meet local community members that accepted us like family, help them with different initiatives, and immerse ourselves in the Dominican culture. The opportunity to observe the local economy as well, see the strengths and weaknesses associated with it, and make note of the opportunities of growth there helped us gain experience with international economies and how to help them with their various needs. Another amazing thing that we were able to do was have to opportunity to listen to a number of different speakers and guests who taught us a multitude of things that relate to our field and future career paths.

One of our amazing guests showing us how to really market and start off a business step by step.
The Centennial Team staying at the Ecolodge!

The Economy

The main reason we went to the Dominican Republic as a class was to observe their economy, analyze its strengths and weaknesses, and apply our Community Development techniques there. When people think of the DR the first thing that comes to mind for a lot of people is the resorts, and the party life on the beach. But as we had came to learn, this beautiful land had a lot more to offer then that.
The economy of the DR is comprised of a very intricate web of corresponding political bodies, agencies, and international organizations. One interesting thing I learnt is that the Japanese helped to boost the tourism for the DR, but only for a contracted amount of time. Aside from the tourism though unfortunately there is a huge gap between the wealthy and the poor. If you are not able to work with tourists, or know English it is hard to make a sustainable living for many Dominicans. We have noticed a paradigm shift in thinking though when it comes to economic development strategies, and local communities are now starting to take advantage of their local commodities and cultural hotspots. One that I wish to mention is the amazing coffee in the DR. There has been an effort to attract tourists to see the coffee manufacturing process, from the tree to the cup, and with the added bonus of seeing the locals sing to the beans it is a great experience they can capitalize on.

The People and the Experience

Overall this was an amazing eye-opener of an experience, and one that was a huge learning opportunity for a lot of us. For some it was the catalyst for them to realize what exactly they wanted to do in the community development field. For others it helped them learn more about the economic development of countries outside of their own. And for myself personally it was a chance to learn more about myself and how I can better interact with not just my classmates but with different kinds of people around the world.

The scenery was absolutely breathtaking, something that a lot of us did not expect. Waking up every morning to see the sun rise over the hills of Puerto Plata, going for 4 hour long hikes across the land just to dive into a beautiful lake and more was something that created a deep connection between nature and us all. But the most beautiful thing we encountered on our trip was the people. Every Dominican we met showed us a level of love and care that we don’t often see from strangers. When they found out we were there to do Community work as well they treated us with even more hospitality, and this is something I would like everyone who visits the DR to see, and not just the resorts that don’t help their communities. In conclusion this trip was an amazing life-changing experience that I must thank SAGE and Centennial College for giving me the opportunity to experience!

Why Community-based Tourism?

Why promote Community-Based Tourism?

By Shaundell Scott.

March 4, 2019

I was fortunate to spend seven days in the Dominican Republic with my eleven classmates and two of my professors on a project. This project was sponsored by Centennial College which is located in Toronto, Canada. The course is Community Economic Development, located within the Community Development Program). We traveled to the Dominican Republic to study what is Community-Based Tourism. While we were there, we did lots of projects and touring, we learned about Community-based tourism from a community point of view. However, what stood out to me was the water situation I experienced while being at the Ecolodge where we stayed and how we take water consumption and electricity for granted.

Why promote Community Based Tourism?

To save water and electricity: Conservation of water is vital for globalization. In Canada we waste gallons of water, we shower for hours at a time consuming not only large amounts of water but electricity.

* In the Dominican Republic, most days we were only allowed to shower for 10 minutes the most or else water will run out. You had to wet your skin, turn the water off, lather it will soap and rinse it off.

* Toilets were flushed only when you stool or if the urine in the toilet was brown in colour, if it was light yellow you urinate in it until such time or someone use it to stool then you flush to help conserve the water.

* Lights were turned off every time you left the room which was an open concept. You get the natural light during the day from the sun. The view for your bed was breathtaking as you see the hills, valleys and the lights from the city at night whiles lying on your bed.

* Most of the lights were turn off at a particular time in the night, so getting to the toilet you either had to use your mobile phone torchlight or a manual torchlight.

* There was no bottled water on the Ecolodge; we had filtered water, in which you take your recycled water bottle and fill it up for your needs.

Wake up Canada! Although we are going to be one of the last countries in North America affected by global warming, if we don’t take note and conserve, conserve, conserve, we will be affected at some point. Let’s teach our children how important it is to lessen our ecological footprints, while thinking about the effects of global warming.

With this in mind think about this, I visited the twenty-seven waterfalls (Los Charcos), and due to global warming (ie. rain drought in the region), we only had access to ten falls instead of the regular twelve which is used for tourism. All of this effect is due to climate change and no rainfall, there was no water in the remaining falls. How ironic that is, yes it is, but it is the facts. I remember when I was small and would get angry when my parents say to me

* “If you are not using the lights turn it off.”

* “Stop standing in front of the fridge so long with the door open.”

* “Who is watching the television? Turn it off” or

* “Why the fan is on, and no one is using it?”

All of that was for financial purposes. Today it is for us to save energy and our planet.

So why promote Community Based-Tourism?

So we can learn to appreciate what we have with a renewed sense of Global warming effects and how we can learn to lessen our footprints one by one.

 

 

My Flip Experience 2019

Jennifer Keene

March 6th, 2019

Puerto Plata is a beautiful city located in The Dominican Republic and I feel extremely blessed to have experienced the gems throughout this city and the lovely people that live there. My stay at the Tubagua Ecolodge was truly a challenge for me but I’m so glad I pushed past my fears and made the best of it. I am not an outdoorsy type of lady and I have a serious fear of bugs but I didn’t want that to stop me from all that was ahead of me for the next 6 days. I got to experience hiking to “God’s swimming pool” a beautiful waterfall located 40 mins away from the lodge and it was AMAZING! Walking through the hills and valleys was exhilarating and it made feel like I could conquer the world! Me and the FLIP team alongside our wonderful tour guide, encouraged each other, shared stories about challenges we faced and overcame and we kept each other smiling with our corny jokes. Many of us haven’t walked that long and far in a very long time, but we just kept going! I saw all my classmates and instructors in a whole new light and I felt so empowered by each of them whenever I would feel like it was getting tough. I compared that whole hiking experience to life, we go through ups and downs, we struggle, it gets tough but we just gotta persevere. Then when you get to the finish line you realize it was all worth it in the end and the challenges you faced weren’t so bad after all. Even leaning on a friend for support is necessary at times too, because we all face similar challenges.

All of the excursions really impressed me, I felt like our days were planned out well and taught us so much about community development and how successful organizations and projects can be if we use the tools we have learned and apply them. I assumed we would be doing a lot of work in the underserved communities so I was ready to get to work! but instead we heard very heartfelt stories, we learned about the failures and successes and we took a tour throughout the area and got a clear picture of what an underserved community in another country looks like.

This experience has taught me to push past any fears I have and to never assume nor have any expectations. I learned to just go for it, face everything head on, to never be afraid to ask for help or to ask a question and use every experience to help you be a better person. I plan to use all the tools I learned from being apart of a team with individuals who share the same passions and vision but have unique personalities, in my own projects and at work so we can be successful when trying to create an effective community based program etc.

You just gotta F-L-I-P!! (Forget Limitations & Instill Positivity)

#I am in love with DR-Banana#

I was shocked with the  taste and authenticity of Puerto Plata Bananas . Last six months  in Canada I was having only mechanized and processed artificial Bananas .I felt almost like the length, breadth and size of this bananas  is preplanned before it comes in Canadian market .The bananas in the capitalist countries is genetically modified  (GMO) which are intended to stay longer with all kinds of preservatives . In the case of Puerto Plata ,Which is unexposed to the MNCs and Giant Players is still having the banana in the way God has created . Mostly in Super markets of Canada we get Bananas which has sticker or seal on it which is not from the banana tree . Which essentially means these bananas are well processed with chemicals . Here in Puerto Plata , we can have organic banana which is  not having seal or sticker but having all the nutrients and vitamins.  I love to see more organic bananas from Dominican republic  reaching out to different parts of the world which can gradually reduce the consumption of mechanized Bananas. #Jofin T Lorance # The Banana Boy

FLIP – Dominican Republic Experience (Part 3)

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
DAYS FIVE, SIX, SEVEN AND EIGHT
From scraps to something beautiful. A bunch of lovely, vibrant, energetic young ladies made it their pleasure to invite us into​n their homes and literarily their homes, we tore up discarded papers, washed it in a machine, blended for purity, then made into brand new paper for books, necklaces, rings etc. which they sell to visitors who take advantage of this tour, the prices are very reasonable and for a community asset based experience that revolves around the community, creating employment for the community members (one who lives over the river, who travels by boat every day to get to work). Walking through a “BARRIO” “Ghetto” as we may call it, was exciting, it reminded us of the gifts that we have and must cherish. We saw a baseball field that many of these children use for their enhancement of the baseball skills, Baseball is the most profitable, popular sport here on the Island. Many local youths have become popular through this sport. We saw small houses, un-employed persons just sitting at home and some very idle hands that may not be useful due to many reasons surrounding their situations.

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Growing chocolate YUMMMMMM. Eating the natural real fresh coco plant was awesome, even Hassan made good use of the entire plant!!!! I left my mark on mother nature as I planted a tree so within the next 3 years I will return to reap my fruits of my labour. This tour is operated by UMPC Guananico and is certified by Turisopp, the local Tourisim Ministry and this tour is also a part of the community and its mandate. Volunteers like Felix, lives in the community and spends most of his time with tis valuable community development experience. It has clear family connections which makes it stronger and viable. And if planting a tree, eating a scrumptious lunch, getting a coco facial service was not enough then we had to go dance up a storm….MERENGUE. hips were oved, legs were twirled, oh YEAH. This additional tour of Dominican’s history is again done under the umbrella of the community, the contributions are endless, hence making members own their history will make history!!!!
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Happier times after MERENGUE.
DIAMONDS are a girl’s best friend but after that trip to the AMBER MINES, we want no more diamonds. Amber is the way to go. Open back truck, fresh air, waving to natives, holding the sun in our hands, looking at God’s creation through the lenses of mother nature and just taking in the serenity of the countryside was a breath of fresh air, as we made it to the Amber Mines. Short but sweet visit. This tour had started out as an active experience, however as time elapsed it has dwindled into a less attended experience, reasons surrounding this experience varies. Bad roads, long journey (Even though it was very refreshing and community oriented), unsafe mines, and some amount of neglect are visual indicators of the low attendance. Our presence was needed as we did continuous evaluations on all these community-based experiences. So again, Thank you Centennial College and all other stakeholders on this mission.
Embarking upon the final days ahead we became celebrities. Just take a look!!!!!, we met with Senor Juan Pablo, who gave us an in-dept look and well explained presentation on all those experiences we experienced, and how they came about, how we must use the different eyes, hands to make the community stands out, the inclusion of the members in every community and the heart of what community-based assets are and they do for everyone. Adventure called. Damagua falls, 27 waterfalls, can you believe it, all of 27 waterfalls in one location (however we did 7). The adventure was awesome, sliding, gliding, jumping and just splashing in God’s creation, no artificial inseminations. This tour is one of the most popular tour for the cruise ship passengers and this too started out as a small community-based experience.

The last supper!!!!!!Playa Cabarete, was our final night destination, eating fish, lobsters, burgers and shrimps, then we hit the dance floor. Dance we did. Dominicans had noting on us!!!!

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Spending our last moments with one key individual was not to be missed. Juanin’s mountain tour made the trip a worthwhile experience, a long but rejuvenated walk to two most breath-taking waterfalls was worth the walk. This tour is tied to the Coffee experience, and it provides employment for the operator Juanin and his family, as sometimes his nephew and his brother tags along with him. He told us of the benefits of this tour, as for the community and who benefits, the land owner who gives and charges them to walk through the land, the host of the tour and the coffee host. This is a small tour but the community is well a part of it.

4

THANK YOU, CENTENNIAL COLLEGE, FOR THIS FIRST-HAND CONNECTION TO WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED AND WHAT WE WILL BE EXPERIENCING IN THE FUTURE……!!!!!

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Departing Moments at the Lodge. Thanks Tim and the crew!!!!!