Hello from the BeachCorps Beach Bum! Today we'd like to introduce a new part of our blog called Beach Bum Basics. BeachCorps is all about getting out of the "gilded cage" of a beautiful resort and out into the real world of the Dominican Republic. Many people are perfectly happy to stay inside the resorts, and who can blame them. But others want to get out and learn what life is like outside the hotel compound. And that's where basic common sense advice comes into play when you want to safely go off the beaten path of the resorts.
If you want to get around safely, the smartest and safest thing is to get a great taxi or bus or van service that caters to foreigners. You will pay extra for a private taxi, probably about the same rates you pay in the USA or other developed countries. If you want to be a Dominican and do as the Dominicans and live a bit dangerously (by US standards), small groups of people can easily and cheaply get around on small Dominican motorcycles (called motoconchos). You pay about $200 pesos/$4 for a 3 mile trip, and the smallest fee is about 50 pesos or $1. And here's the important tip: If you are going to ride on a motoconcho, then look for a driver with a helmet.
Many drivers don't wear any helmet, and that's plain dumb and dangerous. So why would you want to drive with someone who is acting dumb and dangerous? And of course, wear a helmet yourself wherever possible. If you can, sneak a motorcycle helmet or at least a bike helmet into your luggage if you are planning to take motoconchos (you can't rent them easily here). We would add look for a driver who also uses sunglasses, which makes sense for running into bugs, but sadly and inexplicably very few motoconcho riders use sunglasses in the Dominican Republic. It's a cultural thing.
If you want more great advice, the State Department provides a lot of wisdom, based on decades of experience of actually living abroad from thousands of officials, about the do's and don'ts while you are travelling around the world through Country Specific Information (CSI) reports. If you like the idea of learning from other people's mistakes, then check out the CSIs as they include tons of information based on private American citizens and how they've gotten into and out of trouble over the years. If you follow the State Department CSI, the chances are that you will avoid ever being part of another CSI (Crime Scene Investigation). Sorry, we couldn't resist that joke. Here's the CSI for the Dominican Republic.
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