In my A-Z of the Dominican Republic we are now on letter R. Rivers and Rum or Rios y Ron.
Going to the river is a Dominican institution and there are several fabulous rivers throughout the country. Many have stunning natural waterfalls and are ideal for a day out - and Dominicans know how to enjoy themselves better than any other nationality I know! The pictures here are from some of my river outings and one from a friend of mine, Dorota who is also married to a Dominican.
The first stage is to get to the river. Some of them you can drive to, but quite often you have to walk, carrying all the provisions for the day, which will include all the cooking pots and of course the rum. I went a while ago with a group of Dominicans and was faced with a hike through the woods and half way up a mountain.
Dorota on her outing didn't have to walk, however I must say her drive to the river looks interesting, but as with everything Dominican, where there is a will there is a way, and nothing will stand in the way of a day out at the river.
The first rule for your day out is to wear the right footwear. Stupid me had no idea we would have to do a six mile jungle trek and wore flip flops. It didn't take long for walking to become impossible, so luckily husband was able to convert himself into a human donkey and carried me. He walked barefoot all the way, as many Domincans are able to, but my sensitive little English feet just couldn't cope with that.
Once you arrive at the river, the first thing is to start cooking. In my experience the women tend to take charge of that while the men go and collect the firewood. Nothing has changed in the last few thousand years.
Once the fire is ready, the big pans of food start bubbling away. Sometimes rice and sometimes plantains, usually served with stewed chicken. I don't know why, but food cooked outside always tastes so much better. Some river spots, such as Los Patos in Barahona, have little shacks next to the river where you can buy food such as freshly cooked fish which is also delicious, although not quite as adventurous as cooking it yourself.
While the food is cooking, out comes the rum. Most people will take a cooler stuffed with ice and bottles of rum and coca cola or, more recently, cranberry juice. Dorota however can go one better due to her family connections! She has a whole van full of Brugal!
Before lunch most people will go for a dip in the river, taking their rum with them, and the women will usually keep their clothes on. I am told this is as they are modest, maybe it is because they dry quickly as well. Personally I prefer to wear a bathing suit, as I don't like driving home in soggy knickers. English sensibilities again.
Once dinner is over, the rum continues to be consumed and then while the women carrying on chatting and drinking in the river, the men do what you should always do having drunk rum all day - go mountain climbing in their knickers.
Once at the top of the rocks there is only one thing left to do which is to throw yourself off, bungee jumping without the bungee, into the shallow water beneath, praying that you will come up alive.
Then as the sun starts to set and the rum runs out, it is time to gather up all of the pots and pans, and I run around putting all the rubbish in a plastic bag to take with us. The Dominicans I have been with don't tend to do this which is a shame as the river spots are so beautiful. And then we wend our way back, some happy from the rum, some more than happy so that the car has to be stopped every so often for a pee or puke.
Rivers and Rum are as Dominican as plantains and dominoes, and if ever you get invited on a river outing, do go, making sure to wear the right shoes. You are promised a fabulous day out with lots of laughter, great food, and beautiful scenery, but just take it easy on the rum!