By Brooke Brown
It’s been just over a month since I came down to the Dominican Republic to train, hoping to escape the ice and snow of Toronto. I arrived in Punta Cana, where my first week of training was pure bliss. Running to the sound of waves with the view of the Caribbean Sea is simply priceless. My days started or ended at the local swimming pool, which also features a cross-fit studio, in Punta Cana Village. This time of the year, the pool is ideal for some base fitness and technical work as it‘s relatively quiet. My most memorable day was biking to the summit of “El Farallón,” at sunset. A stunning panoramic view where you can watch the ocean while the sun sets behind you.
Despite nature’s wonders and the serenity of beach-style living, I knew that this was not ‘true’ Dominican life. My experiences in other Hispanic countries would suggest greater population-density and a more culturally vibrant society. Also, for being the birthplace of Latin style music and dance, “bachata,” the streets of Punta Cana were far too tame to be “la verdadera” DR.
My acculturation to the country got seriously underway when I went to the capital, Santo Domingo. In a city where its own residents consider driving more than a little chaotic, touring around on your bike is a wild card. Doing so is sure to improve bike-handling skills, reflexes and stress-management. Thankfully, I have picked up a few tricks from the “moto-concho” drivers, such as zipping through intersections or rapidly halting at green lights while intersecting traffic continues to proceed through red, weaving in-and-out of cars in mid-day traffic jams and rapidly firing the breaks.
Anyone who has spent any amount of time in the DR will know about the moto-conchos. They are like a cross between a motorcycle and a dirt-bike, and are a relatively inexpensive way of zipping around a traffic-congested city.
From the palm trees and beaches of Punta Cana to the zany roadways of Santo Domingo, training in the DR has kept me in suspense as I never know what to expect. Stay tuned for more adventures a ‘la dominicana. Next, I will be looking at the health and performance benefits of natural sources, sugar cane and coconut water found at ‘El Mirador’ park.
Brooke Brown is a pro triathlete and registered dietician. She offers nutritional consultation through Personal Best Health and Performance. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.