❝ Hay un país en el mundo. Colocado en el mismo trayecto del sol. Oriundo de la noche. Colocado en un inverosímil archipiélago de azúcar y de alcohol. ❞ - Pedro Mir
Hi beauties! It's Ale, and today I'm so excited to have the opportunity to participate in the We Heart It Writer's Team "Where I'm From" series to talk about my first love! My home country of the Dominican Republic! I hope you enjoy!

✧ | General Info

beach, home, and Santo Domingo image
Prior to European colonization, The Arawak people, better known as Taínos, lived in relative tranquility on the island. They had a whole societal system with chiefs, borders, and trade! They were unfortunately almost entirely wiped out after the Spaniards arrived. After the Native population decreased, the first-ever African slaves were brought to the American continent. The French at that point sunk into what is currently Haiti. After their revolution from France, Haiti ended up free and then occupied the Dominican Republic. The DR gained Independence from Haiti, and finally turned into its own nation! We're one of the few countries in the continent that didn't gain independence from its original colonizer.
Dominican Republic is divided into 31 provinces, with the capital being Santo Domingo. DR currently has a population of about 10 million, and is about the size of U.S.A's Vermont & New Hampshire states combined, or just a little bit short of Slovakia, haha!
beach, Dominican Republic, and home image

✧ | Language

The official language of DR is Spanish! Although Dominican Slang or Colloquial Dominican is considered the hardest Spanish to understand from the Caribbean, and the top hardest Spanish to understand overall along with Chilean Spanish!
✦ Popular Slang Terms —
Que lo Que:
"Hey!" "What's up?" "How are you?"
Loco/a or Viejo/a:
Homie, friend, my dude.
Jevo/a or Tipo/a:
That boy/girl.
A little bit.
Surprised. Shocked. Amused. Proud. — Really, anything you want it to be.
Anything that you just can't bother to name. Material or a Situation. e.g. "Can you pass me that vaina (object) over there?" or "This vaina (situation) is really making me angry!"
Juntadera or Chercha:
Hang out. Party.
Joking around. Having fun.
Bodega. Corner store.
Super angry or annoyed.
My ride or die. Best friend for life.
Broke. No money.
Ta'to! or Full:
"No problem." "Ok, got it." "Agreed."
platano power, dominican slang, and proud dominican image

✧ | People & Culture

— Dominicans are fun, outgoing, humble, genuine, and always up for a good time! Everyone is super eager to get to know each other, and are always interested in sharing life experiences and moments! People want to help and look out for each other. Communities are tight because people genuinely see each other as family. Are we loud? Yes. Are we sometimes crazy and unpredictable? Yes. But! Dominicans will always ride for each other and strive for a better tomorrow. If you find yourself lucky enough to know one, you probably have a friend for life!
Temporarily removed dark, grunge, and guys image

✧ | Food

— Dominican Cuisine is deeply rooted in African, Indigenous, and Spanish heritage. In the last millennia we've acquired some Middle Eastern, and Asian influences along the way to create unique and delicious plates!
Temporarily removed baseball, carne, and comida image
✦ Main/Side Dishes —
La Bandera:
The flag consists of white rice, red beans, and any meat of your choice. This is the main dish in any Dominican household, it's the very foundation of our diet.
They are fried green plantain slices served flattened and salted. They go with anything and everything, at any given time or place. Dominicans will swear by this.
Mangú con Los Tres Golpes:
Mashed, boiled plantains with "3 hits" is our national breakfast! The "3 hits" mainly consist of fried white cheese, fried salami, and eggs. Though you can replace the eggs for avocado, or tostones!
The soup every abuelita (grandma) brings out on rainy days. It usually consists of large pieces of meat, tubers and vegetables served in a broth. This is one of our national dishes!
Pasteles en Hoja:
Tubers or plantains are grated and the paste is formed into a small rectangular shape and stuffed with meat or vegetables. They are then tightly wrapped in a banana leaf and boiled. This is a Christmas staple!
Casseroles! There are more than six variations with the most popular ones being pastelón de platano maduro (yellow plantain casserole), and pastelón de yuca (cassava casserole). They're usually stuffed with ground meat or chicken.
This is a sautéed mix of local herbs and spices, and it's used in many dishes. This adds all the sazón (flavor) to your food!
Temporarily removed arab, arabian, and celery image
✦ Picadera | Snacks
They are similar to a hand pie, but we fry them and stuff them with beef or cheese. I prefer the ooey-gooey cheese ones! Yum!
A version of the Middle Eastern kibbeh, brought by a wave of Middle Eastern immigrants at the end of the 19th century. It's a deep-fried meat bulgur roll. They are so good it's insane!
Temporarily removed Temporarily removed
✦ Desserts —
Habichuelas Con Dulce:
This means "sweet cream of beans". I know it sounds weird, but I swear it is the most heavenly, delicious dessert of all time! Especially if you pair it with milk cookies, Nutella, or any chocolate! This is made with red beans, cinnamon, nutmeg, condensed milk (or coconut), evaporated milk, butter, sugar, and salt. The beans are boiled with salt and then blended to the consistency of soup. Then both milks are added before cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger can also be added as flavorings. I'm born again every time I eat this! This is an Easter staple!
Dulce de Leche:
While this isn't particularly Dominican, our dulce de leche is thicker than other Latin American countries. Which I personally prefer, but maybe I'm just biased, haha!
This means "Pulled"! They are round balls that are made with just shredded coconut and honey. Perfect for summer!
This roughly means "covered in dust!" They're crumbly rounded vanilla cookies covered in powdered sugar. Best accompanied by hot chocolate!
Corn pudding made with fresh corn, cornstarch, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. Some Dominicans add coconut milk and nutmeg. I do this, haha!
Cornmeal and coconut cake. Dominican arepa is very different from the Venezuelan and Colombian arepa. Don't get them confused!
Souflé de Batata:
This is kind of like a casserole of mashed sweet potato, then topped with marshmallows and placed in the oven. This is a Christmas staple!
Palitos de Coco:
Coconut sticks! Shredded coconut lollipops cooked with condensed milk. When done they are formed into small balls and coated in a simple syrup made from sugar, and corn syrup.
Coconut macaroons with sugar, ginger, and cinnamon.
Temporarily removed Temporarily removed
✦ Beverages —
Morir Soñando:
To die dreaming. A drink consisting of orange juice, milk, and sugar. I know it sounds weird, but if you keep the juice and milk almost at freezing point (but not quite!) they won't cancel each other out, and it'll taste like heaven! This is a summer staple!
Mama Juana:
An alcoholic drink made by allowing rum, red wine, and honey to soak in a bottle with tree bark and herbs. It is said to be an aphrodisiac!
Image removed Temporarily removed

✧ | Places to Experience

culture, travel, and wanderlust image
Zona Colonial
Tour the beauty of the ancient settlements, museums, art, culture, music, and taste native food.
Altos de Chavón
Tour the cultural center of a recreated 16th-century Mediterranean village, with a museum and amphitheater.
Sendero Del Cacao
Take a tour of our biggest Cacao (chocolate) exporting farm! DR is one of the top exporters in the world for cacao!
Pico Duarte
Hike the tallest peak in the Caribbean! Dare to try?
Lago Enriquillo
This lake has the highest concentration of salt in the country, it's the lowest point in the Caribbean, and it's also inhabited by alligators!
Dunas de Baní
Sandboard down our beautiful sand dunes, located in the southern province of Peravia.
Cueva de las Maravillas
The cave of wonders got its name from explorers who were amazed at the beauty they saw within. The cave is open for tours, and guaranteed you will be amazed!
Los Haitises
Experience the beautiful jungle in this national park and venture into ancient indigenous caves for a blast from the past.
Tree House Village
Stay right at the heart of our beautiful rainforests up in the trees like our colorful birds!
Go river rafting down our rapids and explore the various waterfalls you can hike and jump from.
Swing over the edge of our beautiful mountain range, stay in a log cabin at the very top of our mountains, and experience a tropical winter if you travel during the season. It gets so cold it can actually snow!
Los Tres Ojos
Dive into crystal clear lagoons inside an underground Limestone cave!
Caribbean, Dominican Republic, and travel wanderlust image Caribbean, Dominican Republic, and swing image
✦ Beaches to Visit —
Cabarete - windsurfing, kayaking, surfing, and snorkeling.
Las Terrenas - boogie terrain cars, whale watching, zip-lining, and windsurfing.
Punta Cana - indigenous eyes lagoons, manatee park, and babaro beach.
Puerto Plata - ocean world aquatic park, cable cars, and hike the 27 Damajagua waterfalls challenge!
Isla Saona - take a boat to this beautiful offshore island that's scattered with colorful sea life, starfish, and crystal clear waters.
Bahía de las Aguilas - set in a protected area, this remote beach boasts sea life, turtles, and white soft sand.
Temporarily removed summer, sea, and beach image

✧ | Fun Facts

beach, Dominican Republic, and home image
• The rhythmic dance and music genres, Merengue and Bachata, originated here!
• Baseball is our National Sport. That's why we love it so much!
• Samaná Bay is home to a humpback whale sanctuary from January to March when they swim down to have their babies!
• Oscar de la Renta, the acclaimed fashion designer, is from Santo Domingo, DR.
• María Montez, known as The Queen of Technicolor, was a Dominican motion picture actress in the 1940s. She's one of the most acclaimed Dominican actress.
• DR is the site of the oldest colonial settlement in the Americas, and home to Christopher Columbus’s first New World landing point in 1492. We have the most firsts in the Americas: First Catholic cathedral, first university, first hospital, and the first capital city (Santo Domingo).
• The Cuban Revolution scenes from The Godfather Part II were actually filmed at the Presidential Palace in Santo Domingo.
• The DR is the only place in the world where Larimar, a rare form of blue pectolite, can be found.
• The Dominican Republic is the only country in the world with a Bible on its flag!
blue, Dominican Republic, and flag image

❝ There is a country in the world. Situated right in the sun’s path. A native of the night. Situated in an improbable archipelago of sugar and alcohol. ❞ - Pedro Mir
— Thank you so so much for reading this article that is so near and dear to my heart! I hope you come to visit my beautiful home one day! For more articles like this and other fun stuff, check out my page!

This article was written by @alepatera on the We Heart It Writers Team as part of the Where I'm From series.