Seeking Out Everyday Life in the Dominican Republic



finding paradise


Our yearly family vacation with the children brought us to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic this month. As a group we have ventured to Bermuda, Spain, Jamaica, Tangier and local spots like Fire Island.

The palette of Dominican Republic is so bright and cheery. Thank goodness I shoot in color most of the time. The aquamarine water, the fruit markets, the sky, people’s clothing — a huge array of colors are always on display.

On beach vacations, I get a bit restless because I don’t bask in the sun for the sake of basking in the sun. So instead I become an adventurer with my camera. Yes, I photographed the maids below in their pink pinafores and the brightly colored circus performers and staff at the resort itself.  On this trip, I talked to everyone I could. I wanted to explore beyond the beach and the resort so I asked around and found the perfect tour guide who would take me off the beaten path. Dario is a tour guide who works for all the hotels in Punta Cana and usually gives group tours. But this day he was off work yet agreed to take me out and introduce me to locals all over the area, with my camera and photo goals in mind.

I explored Jamaica like this as well. Looking back at some of my adventures there makes my jaw drop now because I wasn’t always so cautious. But in Dominican Republic, Dario introduced me to his farmer friends at the market and the local surfers at the beach, storekeepers in town, children in his neighborhood, and personal friends and extended family.

The icing on the cake (and his gift to me) was being invited to Dario’s very own home to meet his wife, mother-in-law and three children. I was curious about their daily routines — from the painstaking process of washing clothes without modern machines to harvesting their breakfast, lunch and dinner from the acres around their house holding so many fruits and vegetables: mangos, pineapples, mandarin oranges, coconuts, sweet potatoes, eggplant and more.

It seems that the idea of going on vacation is often about living in an environment of “paradise” — to get away from everyday life. But for me, a successful vacation isn’t about finding paradise, but rather seeing someone else’s everyday life. Finding what is most real is the exciting and most illuminating parts of adventure and seeing myself through new eyes.

Dario and Natalie



All of these photographs are taken by me. I used my Leica Q and my trusty iPhone X.

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