We landed at 05:30 on the 28th of May 2016 in London Gatwick after 10 Days of what can only be described as absolute Bachata Paradise. The tired and Jet lagged faces stepped on to British soil with heavy hearts. All yearning to return. Heres our story!
On the 17th of May 2016 at 07:30, a group from the UK meet, some for the first time in London Gatwick Airport. The only thing they had in common was their love of dance, Bachata to be precise. Some were quite, some were not so quite, but all apprehensive as to what lay ahead of them for the next 10 days.
We took off on a Thomson Dreamliner at 10:45 and the adventure began. 8 hours and 45 minutes later we landed in Punta Cana International Airport for the second leg of the journey. With eyes wide open and mouths a gap we made our way through to the baggage claim area. Merengue filled the air and infected everyone that came within earshot of the 3 men playing in the corner. Rasa Pauzaite and Amanda Ellis broke into dance (the video got over 2k hits on Facebook within hours).
The next 5 hours would be spent in a tin can with luggage stacked in the isle’s (the transfer company had made a clerical error and our booked coach had been dispatched else where). Nether the less we set off in earnest for Las Terranas. Dominican Rum was flowing freely around the tin can and spirits were high. A few hours into the journey, bladders were swelling and with no service station in site we asked the driver for a bush stop. He answered with an amusing Siiii Senoir! The tin can stopped on the side of the Road and we all dis mounted, Girls to the left and Guys to the right, with the odd concerned where are you going? Guys are that way. There was then silence….. for a moment !!! Screams erupted from the left and the right and bodies appeared form both sides hastily buttoning up clothes whilst fighting off flying Elephants (Mosquitoes). Shoulder barging was adopted at the door of the tin can, whilst the occupants were screaming “SHUT THE DOOR”, who were quite willing to leave the dis mounted behind to fight of the flying Elephants (Mosquitos). Whilst the last was climbing onboard a big “VAMOS” burst the driver ear drums. The next few hours were used to consume the remainder of the Rum and cover the bitten areas with Colgate toothpaste (which, incipiently works). The remainder of the journey was un eventful. We arrived in Las Terranes and settled in after a hearty meal in Chez Sandro, a French Restuarant which would accommodate us for the next 5 nights.
After a well deserved sleep, everyone opened the doors to their quant little villas and absorbed there surrounding. In awe we made our way to the beach for the first lesson of the holiday with Rasa Pauzaite. The beach was only 50m from the accomodation and ran in both directions as far as the eyes could see. Palm trees and beach bar huts dotted the coast line serving everything from Jugo’s (fruit juice) to Mojitos.
The rest of the day was spent exploring Las Terranas and absorbing the local culture. The main form of transport in Las Terranes was by Scooter or Quad Bikes. There were a few cars, but not many. The local taxis were called MotoConcho’s, which were no more than run down scooters or motorbikes operated by anyone trying to catch a living. For 100DOP you could travel anywhere in Las Terranas.
After the evening meal we started our Authentic Dominican Bachata lessons in the local school with our good friend Bolivar. He accessed the levels and then took us all back to basics and started the process of infusing pure Dominican Bachata into us. Then it was onto La Bodega, the local club, where we mixed with all the locals dancers and practiced everything we had learnt and more.
The rest of the week was much the same. Lessons and stretching on the beach in the morning followed by a lot of sun and of course Rum courtesy of Mr D (Darren Sherran – nicknamed by one of the local beach bar owners). Evening meals in Chez Sandro and then on the Bolivars school and partying until the sun came up in La Bodega, Amazon and Klandestino.
One of the highlights of the holiday was Sunday night at one of the Car Washes. Yes thats right a Car Wash. These are famous across the Dominican Republic. The thought process is Wash your car or scooter, have a drink and dance! This is Dominican Culture at its best. With hundreds of Dominicans present (with a Sea of “clean” Scooters and Motorbikes in car park), we partied hard to the tunes of a live Dominican Band until the early hours.
Excursions were organised by another character, Oriel. A local tour guide who smiles relentlessly. The first of the excursions was El Limon Cascada (Waterfall). We travelled by open top Safari truck to a mach some 20 minutes away, again the Rum was flowing courtesy of Mr D. Once we arrived we were introduced to our Horses or Donkeys and the trek began. 40 minutes were spent on Horse back navigating the steep hill paths. Bachata music was heard everywhere, as in back packs we had portable speakers. Once we arrived at the end of the trail it was a short walk down some steep steps to the Waterfall. The scene that we saw was like something off the television. A high cliff face with water cascading into a pool at the bottom of crystal clear water. Clothes were peeled away to reveal swim suits and in we all went to cool off.
Before the journey back on our trusty steads there was time to sample the local brew in Coconut shells. Laced with Dominican Rum of course. The Guides were so impressed with our dancing skills they joined in and the Bachata Welly Party was born!
The second Excursion was a few days later and was to Los Haities and Cayo Leventado. Los Hiaties is the Dominican Republics National Nature Reserve and is accessible via boat. We travelled to Samana and boarded a Catamaran and spent the morning visiting caves systems, with a short stop to buy some Langoustines from the local fisherman at work. Then it was off to Cayo Leventado for the afternoon, a luxury Island resort where we dined and then soaked our bodies in the turquoise Ocean surrounding the Island.
The second half of the holiday saw us experience more authentic Dominican dining. One evening we dined in a little Restaurant called Como tu Casa. All seating was outside and the kitchen was exactly as the name would suggest “like your house” Very rustic and very basic. Sandra our Chef was great, but a little over whelmed by the numbers that she had to cook for so we helped not only with the cooking, but with the orders as well. This set the scene for a very family orientated evening. We even danced in the street post meal.
Lessons with Bolivar progressed from the absolute basics to a proficient level, helped with the hours and hours of social dance in the local clubs. The last night saw us in Amazon after an amazing meal in a Spanish Restaurant called Hispaniola ran by a couple from Valencia. Las Terranes in its entirety came out to party with us and Bolivar performed an amazing Bachata show, but the night was stolen by our very own Natalie Blair with her Magical Belly Dance performance.
Not only is Las Terranes a hidden Gem in a Paradise Country, it is now home to our Bachata Paradise Brand, which will see us returning year after year to spread the love that is Dominican Bachata. Our 2016 holiday has set the standard for continued growth, year on year and product evolution. We are aiming to provide the most authentic experience that you will ever have. Las Terranes is you playground, so expect 2017 blow you away.
Dates are now released: 17-28 May 2017. The programme is being developed at present and the line up will be released very soon.