Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Tu Hablas Ingles?

According to a ranking carried out by Education First, the Dominican Republic is the second country in Latin America with the best domination of the English language, moving ten places up the ranking over the last five years.

The English Proficiency Index (EPI) ranks the DR as moderate in English proficiency, only superseded by Argentina in the region.

The EPI was determined by testing English language skills of more than 950,000 adults from 72 countries.

Education First attributes the English proficiency gains in the Dominican Republic to investments made in English education, especially by the Ministry of High Education, Science and Technology with their English Immersion Program and online courses for advance studies.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Taste Santo Domingo

dr1 reports: Taste Santo Domingo 2017 this year is part of the Hub Santo Domingo, the business marketplace organized by the Santo Domingo Chamber of Commerce at the Convention Center of the Ministry of Foreign Relations on the Malecón. The event will take place 16-18 March 2017.

Master Chef Christine Ha, who has taken cooking with the senses to a new level, will be participating in the event. She is an American chef, writer, and TV host who was the first blind contestant of MasterChef TV program and the winner of its third season in 2012.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

A Change of the Guard

If you're like us, you've been wondering what happened with the iconic Hotel Mercure Comercial. Boy, if those walls could talk, right? Well, the hotel has been shuttered for awhile and people have been speculating about what's going on. Here's the tea.

After getting a bit of info from Anthony of Monaga I started investigating. The place was purchased by the Hodelpa chain, which now has three options in the Colonial Zone: the old Mercure, Hodelpa Caribe Colonial (which has been gay-friendly) and the Hodelpa Nicolas de Ovando.

My new friend over at Hodelpa, Catherine Gomez, informed me that after extensive renovations the doors would open this year, hopefully in the summer, but you know, it's the Dominican Republic, so let's keep our fingers crossed.

She couldn't tell me anything about guest policy just yet or whether the patio dining area would remain intact. When I think of the sights seen from that patio and the encounters had...let's keep our fingers crossed about that as well.

Seems like so much is changing in that area. I wish the new hotel well and hope some of the good things about the former hotel remain, for nostalgia's sake.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tom Perez New DNC Chair

In his victory speech, Mr. Perez played down what he called “the robust discussions in the Democratic Party.” “We’re all going to continue to be united in our values,” he said, calling the party’s “big tent” an asset.
Mr. Perez, 55, the son of Dominican immigrants, is the first Latino chairman of the Democratic Party. He was reared in Buffalo and has held a series of state and federal government jobs, most recently as Mr. Obama’s labor secretary.
Despite his limited experience in electoral politics, his calls for rebuilding the grass-roots and fostering a party that “makes house calls again” appealed to the party insiders who have watched as the House, the Senate and finally the presidency slipped away.
Addressing reporters with Mr. Ellison after the election, Mr. Perez vowed to shift the committee from its overriding focus on presidential politics.
“We’re no longer simply the committee that helps elect the president; we’re the committee that helps to ensure we’re electing people up and down the Democratic ticket,” he said, switching to Spanish for a time.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Ready For His Close Up

I was so tired of these games he was playing. After all, he had called ME! He claimed he had seen my ad in the Gayly Newz. I had been to three locations over the past two weeks to do a shoot, but he was always a no-show.

I agreed to give him one last chance after he called to apologize emphatically. He explained that he had seen the ad while visiting his cousin Raul in the Bronx, who was gay, but that he himself was not gay. He wanted to make a little extra money to finish paying for his graduation fees since his football scholarship had been used up on books, tuition and related expenses.

Tomas was eager to make what seemed like easy money, but he was anxious about what the photos would be like and giving the wrong impression to anyone who might see them and assume he was gay. After I informed him about the disclaimer we used for our photo spreads he consented to meet me in an "out of the way" location, away from prying eyes. (obviously still a bit hesitant) We were to meet early the next evening on the rooftop of a condo building where his homeboy worked as a doorman. His friend would provide access to the private elevator once I confirmed who I was.

As I rode the elevator to the roof I had no doubt he was there this time because the friend would have told me otherwise. As the door opened and I stepped out I almost dropped my equipment. ..

Monday, February 20, 2017

Santo Domingo Carnaval

The Santo Domingo carnival parade will take place on Sunday, 5 March 2017, on the Malecón of Santo Domingo, from 2pm. A large eastern section of the sea-bordering boulevard will be closed off to vehicular traffic. The carnival on the Malecón attracts floats and groups from all over the country and will feature representations of the best of the carnival characters.

The Ministry of Culture announced that as a warm-up, on Monday, 27 February 2017 at 6pm, there will be the presentation of the National Festival of Carnival Music at Plaza Juan Baron on the Malecón and on Friday, 3 March there will be an exhibition of Living Statues (with carnival characters) at different plazas in the capital city of Santo Domingo. On Saturday, 4 March, there will be the celebration of a National Children's Carnival Sampling from 2-6pm at Plaza España in the Colonial City.

Merengue band leader Kinito Mendez and cultural activist Eugenia del Carmen Torres (Pequita) are the king and queen of the 2017 Carnival.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Next Great Beaches

According to the March 2017 issue of Men's Journal, there are a few undiscovered gems that may soon be swarming with tourists as travelers venture into new areas of tourism, like eco-tourism and volunteer vacations, etc.

Here are two that are located in the Caribbean that we highly recommend before the mega-resorts take over. Shete Boka, "Seven Inlets" in Curacao's creole language of Papiamento, is inaccurately named. The waves have carved out way more than seven in this national park on the island's northern coast. Playa Kenepa Chiki, crescent of secluded sand turquoise water thought by some to be the most beautiful beach in the Caribbean. One must also see the city's historic Pietermaai District -designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its collection of brightly hued 18th-century Dutch buildings. Curacao boasts some of the Caribbean's clearest waters, so the scuba diving is world-class.

In Cuba there are countless small beaches that dot the coastline, some so remote and inaccessible that enjoying them can feel more like an ordeal than an escape. For sweet middle ground, if you don't want the over-developed resorts, make the four hour drive to Trinidad, a cobble-stoned, colonial gem on the island's south coast. That's where you'll find Playa Ancon-possibly Cuba's prettiest beach. Ancon offers diving and kayaking in crystal blue waters, fresh caught lobster under thatched-roof cabanas, and some truly stellar sunsets. Try dinner at La Redaccion, an inventive Cuban spot that wouldn't feel out of place in Brooklyn. Find time for a day hike at Topes de Collantes, a stunning nature preserve featuring the 200-foot Salto del Caburni waterfall.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Tiempo para Carnaval

It's carnival time in the Dominican Republic with parades on Sundays all throughout February. One of the most outstanding of all carnivals is that held in La Vega, in the center of the Dominican Republic.

New for La Vega in 2017 is an area off-limits to the pranks of the traditional diablo cojuelo carnival characters in their devilishly looking masks and costumes. In this area, people will be kept from the revelers blasting their pig bladders on the legs of fans that may be in their way. The off-limits area runs from Calle Manlio Bobadilla (zona Presidente) near the Parque Las Palmas to Calle Comandante Jiménez Moya (Cueva Las Panitas). Fans lined up in this area can watch the diablos cojuelos, the floats and carnival characters without fear of a black and blue from a pig bladder beating.

This year, the La Vega Carnival includes live shows on Saturday evenings as of 9pm.

On Sundays, after the parade, the live concerts will be on the stages located at Avenida del Carnaval (Calle José Horacio Rodríguez).
Six artists have been booked per Sunday and will be performing simultaneously from the home bases of the diablo cojuelos. The shows start at 3pm and end at 6:30pm with the last one at the Parque Las Flores with an international artist.

Other outstanding February carnivals in the Cibao take place in the nearby cities of Santiago and Bonao also during the afternoons.

Those interested in participating in the La Vega Carnival can also consider overnighting in the mountain area of Jarabacoa, about half an hour away. See lodging options at:


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

2017 Crafts & Arts Festival

The Ministry of Culture presents from Wednesday, 8 February to Sunday, 12 February the National Arts & Crafts Fair (Fenart) at the Fortaleza Ozama in the Colonial City. Around 300 artisans from all around the country will be participating.