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The Dominican Republic
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic has wonderful beaches, both on the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea Sides. But the country is not all play. It is in the capital Santo Domingo, that one encounters history and culture. Zona Colonial, which is in the heart of the city, is a living museum where cobblestone streets lead to historic edifies. A must-see place!
I stayed at the Vista Sol Beach Resort in Punta Cana. The porter who brought me to my room was my cousin: Franklin Cespedes de la Cruz. The latter is his mother’s maiden surname.
I “Pinoyspotted” Joanna Magno Samek at the Vista Sol Beach Resort in Punta Cana. She was vacationing with her husband August Samek, and their children: August Jr., Aries, and Autumn.
Joanna is in sales planning, whereas August is a personnel trainer. August Jr. and Aries are avid baseball players. And Autumn loves dancing and playing softball.
The family lives in New Jersey.
I took a day trip to Santo Domingo. Our group stopped at Los Tres Ojos (The 3 Eyes National Park). Our guide, Andres Mota, called out my name, “De La Cruz!” A tour-bus driver, who was sitting nearby, approached us and said his last name is de la cruz, too. He even showed us his ID: Francisco Javier de la Cruz Mercedez. De la Cruz is his father’s surname. Later in the day, I saw him again in another stop. He said to me, smiling, “Mi primo! My cousin!”
I sat on a bench in Santo Domingo, and I met a private tour guide, who was on the bench before me. He spoke fondly of Filipinos. He worked in cruise lines for 10 years, becoming friends with many Filipino crew members. He had visited Manila and enjoyed drinking San Miguel Beer. His full name: Ramon Pimentel de la Cruz. The latter is his mother’s maiden surname.
Ramon was the last cousin I met in the Dominican Republic.
Curacao was the first place where I heard Papiamento. A Creole language, it has elements of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English, and French, as well as Arawakan and African languages. Papiamento is also spoken in Aruba and Bonaire.
Curacao was the 100th country I have visited. What made my trip more memorable – I had an iguana soup. Extra bony but utterly delicious!
I was waiting for my tour of the Curacao Ostrich Farm to begin when I “Pinoyspotted” the Cruzes: Angelo Cruz and his wife, Clarivel, and daughter, Daniela. He is a financial analyst in Florida. Traveling with them were Crystal Cruz and Leah Cruz, his sister and cousin, respectively. Both live in New Jersey.
I had the honor of feeding an ostrich at the Curacao Ostrich Farm with Maria Regina Diaz Groves (Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija) and her husband, Greg Groves. Maria is a realtor in Maryland, whereas Greg is retired.
After a lengthy conversation, Maria and I found out that we were contemporaries on Mendiola Street, where our high-school alma maters in Manila are located: she from the College of the Holy Spirit and me from San Beda College.
Rey E. de la Cruz, Ed.D., Positively FIlipino Correspondent, writes from Chicagoland when he is not loving the arts and traveling. He is the author of the children’s book, Ballesteros on My Mind: My Hometown in the Philippines, which also has Ilocano, Spanish, and Tagalog versions.
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