During our last visit to Puerto Plata we really enjoyed the Dominican Architecture! What do you think of when someone says the word “Architecture”? Grand? Fancy? Skyscrapers? Mansions? these are all correct but, there is also “Humble Architecture”, the small homes built by squatters, taking a life time to complete. During our last visit to the Puerto Plata region of the Dominican Republic we had the pleasure of touring, seeing, and working in the beautiful, humble architecture, hand built by the Dominican People!
fathom is voluntourism: a new category of travel that provides the opportunity to build community with like-minded travelers, become immersed in another culture, and work alongside its people to create enduring social impact. fathom calls this #traveldeep. We call it #travellikeanarchitect. It is about a full bodied Cruise Vacation Experience where you Travel for the Experience. To help others. To learn. To make a difference in the lives of others. And, to have a great time. We did ALL of this. To learn more about voluntourism <click here>
The Adonia docks in the brand new port of Amber Cove – about 7 miles from the center of Puerto Plata (City). fathom provides complimentary transportation from Amber Cove to each of the Impact Activities. While traveling to, thru, and from our activities we did as any Traveling Architect – TOOK PHOTOS!!! Below are four galleries, and a map, from each of the major locations we visited.
The following photos are from the Impact Activity: Reforestation and Nursery. We took a short 14 mile drive, heading south-east from the Port. About midway into Puerto Plata we made a right turn and headed Up, Up, and Up thru the Los Burdas neighborhood until we reached El Parque Nacional, and Mount Isabel de Torres. It was here that our group would harvest small seedlings from the rain forest floor, bag them, and place them in the nursery. The photos start with our trip thru the commercial streets of the City of Puerto Plata. Then show a NARROW, and crooked residential street lined with “nice” homes. As we progress up the hill, and get further from the City Center, the construction quality of the homes declined. Strangely the homes directly across from this 30 square mile nature reserve are the most humble.
The Concrete Floors in Community Homes Impact Activity was in the VERY poor neighborhood of El Javillar. Click here to read about our whole day there. Most of this neighborhood is in the flood plain of the Rio San Marcos. We again left the port, drove about 10 miles, south-east, down the main highway. This time we turned left off the road, and headed into a neighborhood containing some VERY primitive homes. Most do not even have floors. The closer we go to the river, the more primitive the homes. El Javillar is a true neighborhood complete with stores, homes, businesses, etc.
The third area of the Dominican Republic we visited was Altamira, about 17 miles from the Port. This time we headed south-east from Amber Cove along the main highway. On our way we passed the Damajaque Cascades (27 Waterfalls) where we had been in February of 2016 with our youngest daughter. (The video is hers) This road went inland and wound thru mountainous terrain, passing small towns and farms. Very different from the dense City of Puerto Plata, as homes had considerably more land. All of the buildings we saw were adjacent to (or very close to) the single main road connecting Puerto Plata to Altamira. It was here that we spent out time helping the Women of Chocal – a Cooperative that makes Artisanal Chocolates.
The Recycled Paper and Community Crafts is an IDDI program, called RePapel. RePapel was also in a different part of El Javillar. It was farther from the Rio San Marcos than the Martinez residence where day prior we poured the concrete floor, and the structures more permanent.
At the end of our day, as we were leaving El Javillar, we had the pleasant surprise of running into Leurys Cecilia Ortiz Carela (Lee) – our IDDI guide from earlier in the day. She was now off work, in her “street” clothes, and buzzing around the neighborhood on her scooter.
NOW…. Before you think: “I don’t want to go or vacation there”. THINK. These areas are the poorest in a poor country. These are the people who serve you in resorts, maybe you’ve heard of Punta Cana. They are some of the NICEST, FRIENDLIEST people you will ever meet. They live in poverty. Someone told us a Dominican with only one shirt will give it to you if he notices you need one. WE/American’s have much to learn about Living Life!! These areas also have some of the most fun buildings. The following photos are of modern, and Architecturally Boring facilities. But they DO illustrate WHY you want to do your Voluntourisim Impact Travel with fathom.