Samaná, The Dominican Republic: A Photo Essay

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“Act your age.” If there’s a conventional rebuke more inaccurate and insulting, I’ve yet to find it. For me, each passing year is less about notching another trip around the sun, but more an opportunity to discover and rediscover. A call to see a lesser known part of the Dominican Republic served the latter.

I’ve been ignorant to this part of the world. But oh, Samaná. Where luscious tropical density is the norm. To pick ripe from a wild tree. To overhear harpings about the day’s catch, as dawn grazes the horizon with a lazy haze.

Here, the village raises all from sunrise to sunset. Wherever children have less means to accomplish, the community bands together to direct growth and instill value. These lessons come from the expansive minds and memories of elders, whose feeble gait and nimble fingers scrawl intuition. One gripped her umbrella as a cane to guide us down the slippery rock steps of her hamlet. In those eyes I saw my grandmother: weathered, worn, and neither limiting a duty to help her own.

“Slow down,” she repeated in between steps. The ongoing punchline about the Caribbean is that they’re on their own time, making everything slow, almost too relaxed. But perhaps it’s not so awful to sit in that lazy haze. To set your time by the rolling tide. Sometimes wanting the most in life assumes seeing and doing everything we can fit into it, but what about taking a moment to enjoy them? Here’s a bit of wisdom from Abuela’s umbrella: spend more time with less, have more time to live.

How would the phrase “act your age” fare in Samaná? The Spanish translation isn’t very good, but I would think they would respond with something like “Age in in the soul. It’s not how you appear, but how you feel.”

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These are a fraction of the photos taken.

Be patient, there’s more to come on paper.

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Neil Watson

Editor At Large