We fly on December 20th, and arrive December 21st. My first time crossing the international date line! I've always traveled to India across the Atlantic. I've been reading Kukrit Pramoj's "Four Reigns". Loving it so far. We are planning to meet some family there, so I've been preparing gifts, and practicing a few words in Thai. Mostly I'm looking forward to being warm!
If you like the vintage glass jewelry that I make, check out this video...
It's filmed in the Gablonz region of Czechoslovakia and demonstrates the process and techniques used to make the Czech glass cabochons, buttons, drops, and chandalier components that I use in my jewelry. The pieces I use were made before the 1960's, mostly from the 1920's, but this family glassworks in the film is the only glassworks left that is still using the original facility and techniques!
I never thought I would enjoy a beach vacation quite so much. We both loved it actually! The Caribbean was admittedly not on my radar until a friend invited us to share a house with them. I'm so glad we did it! I understand the allure of the Caribbean now. It is quite possible the most comfortable environment I've ever experienced. Not too hot, never cold, perfect amount of humidity, and absolutely beautiful beaches, forests, and water! I think we'll be back.
As for artistic inspiration, I think flowers and seashells are the take home. We've been back for a while and I'm having trouble easing myself back into work. All I want to do work! I want all the designs I've come up with to be done, in my hand, manifested immediately! Unfortunately when you take 6 weeks off you go a little soft, and my calluses are all gone. But it's exciting working with the Larimar I picked up in Santo Domingo! And the amber scavenged from the beach in Cabarete! Here's a glimpse into what's coming for the new show season...
The highlight of the ride home was an impromptu stop for chicharone! They heat a cauldron full of lard over charcoal and throw things in. Delicious!!! You select from a buffet style table in the photo on the left. On offer (from the top of the photo down) you have:
Chicharone, a strip of pork that includes meat, fat, and skin fried whole and then chopped up with a machete and doused in lime.
Patatas, chunks of a white sweet potato-like tuber, fried.
Banana, fried whole and also diced with a machete.
Pollo, pieces of fried chicken.
Fish Croquettes, diced fish made into a ball, breaded and fried, also served with lime.
Longanitza, last but certainly not least, a homemade dry sausage, fried in strips and diced with a machete.
The jug on the table contains a sauce made with bitter orange and pickled vegetables. An aphrodisiac they say, but I feel like they say that about everything in the Caribbean... The photo on the right is homemade local cheese. Dairy hanging in a plastic bag in the tropical heat! What could possibly go wrong? Nothing actually, it was good. Salty, probably made with citrus like a paneer. They eat it with the little wafers of bread hanging in a bag behind the cheese.
The best $20 I’ve spent in a long time! My sister came to visit us here for a week and we decided to go on this waterfall excursion about an hour and a half away from Cabarete. We hiked for about 45 minutes through the tropical forest of mango, mahogany, and cacao trees and then jumped, slid, and swam our way back down through 27 waterfalls. I don’t consider myself to be an “extreme” person, but I didn’t even hesitate at the highest jump (21ft). The water was so warm, but it was softly silty like glacier water. Our skin felt amazing afterwards, and my abs hurt from belly-roll laughing all the way down!
Our first stop was Bayahibe on the south coast. We were so fortunate in our accommodation! The place is swarming with resorts, but we got to share the most beautiful home of an Italian-Dominican couple and their adorable 2 year old daughter. A freshwater pool, infinity pool, and you could dive right off the coral bench into a deep calm sea! After the snow and cold of a typical Montana winter you don’t get much closer to paradise than this! Click the “YouTube” button to the right to watch a short video I made. And stay tuned; our next stop is Santo Domingo!
I do not love winter! I know, I know, “I live in the wrong place“ you all say. It’s not totally my fault… I was born here. But since I don’t ski, or ice climb, or snowmobile, or ice skate, or any of the other extreme things people in Bozeman do, I’m getting out. For a few weeks anyway. Some friends of ours asked us to join them in the Dominican Republic for the month of February. We have never been to the Caribbean so we thought, “hey, fun, let’s do it“. We fly into Punta Cana on the East Coast on 24 January. I hate what resorts do to a people‘s culture and environment, so we won’t be doing that. We are staying in people’s homes through Airbnb. We’re looking forward to visiting national parks, historical attractions, Amber and Laramar mines, and my extreme husband will probably do a lot of kite surfing on the north coast. Maybe we’ll learn the Merengue or Bachata while we’re there!
I’ve done some reading to prepare. I really liked “In the Time of the Butterflies“ about the Mirabal sisters, leaders of the resistance against the dictator Trujillo. “Feast of the Goat” was a little harder to get through, but still a worthy novel. I also read, “The Dictator Next Door” which was helpful in understanding Trujillo’s rise to power, The Good Neighbor Policy of the Roosevelt administration, and others that some say propped up the dictator for so long.
If you’re thinking “I don’t even know where the Dominican Republic is”, don’t worry, a lot of people I tell don’t know either. It shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. Columbus landed here on each of his 4 voyages to the New World. Santo Domingo, the capital city of the Dominican Republic, is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas.
If you like the vintage glass jewelry that I make you should watch this video:
It's filmed in the Gablonz region of the Czech Republic, and demonstrates the amazing processes used to create the glass buttons, cabochons, and chandelier components that I now use in my jewelry.
Even though it is in Czech, this short film brought tears to my eyes! This is why I work with Czech glass! It is imbued with history and craftsmanship. I like to think that the pieces the men and women created in these glassworks before WW2 have a new life in the jewelry that I make. They are being set for the first time. Their beauty and the labor that went into their fabrication can finally be appreciated and shared.
My next trip abroad may just have to be here, the Gablonz region of the Czech Republic!
Alison B. Sweeney
Why We Travel?