Travels through Hispaniola

-Fall 2009

“Why are you going there?” everyone asked when I told them I was heading to Haiti, along with a stop in the Dominican Republic, affectionately known as the DR. 

“Vacation!” I replied. 

“Who are you going with?” was the next question, eyebrows furrowed with concern. 

“Nobody,” I replied. 

“Who do you know down there?” the puzzled inquisitor continued. 

“No one yet, but I will soon,” I replied.

Thanks to a website called, I have a network of millions of friends waiting to be made, couches and beds and floors waiting to be sampled. The site is a community of big-hearted adventurers across the planet who offer up free accommodations and an insider’s view of their homeland in exchange for the good karma, later spent when said traveler makes his or her own journey into parts unknown. I have stayed with couchsurfers in Amsterdam, Rio, and even my home city of Washington, DC when I returned from travels homeless and friends’ couches were occupied.

Hispaniola was a target for several reasons. First and foremost, I had enough frequent flier miles to get to the Caribbean, and Haiti was one of just a handful of French-speaking countries I could access. Curiosity about such an island with two such different halves: one Spanish-speaking, on a decent path to development, pulling more tourism dollars than any other nation in the region, lush, green and baseball-crazed – the other Francophone, the poorest in the Western hemisphere, untouched by tourism (for better or worse), deforested, and nutty about soccer.

Or so it is portrayed. The irony of the contrast in standard of living is the fact that Haiti was the first and only nation to be founded by revolting slaves, and actually was called upon by the Dominican people – and a host of other peoples throughout the region -- to help free their people from Spanish rule.

Click on the stories below to read about my couch-surfing adventures from Santo Domingo to Port au Prince. Note that all names have been changed to protect the innocent...


Santo Domingo, the City that's Forced to Sleep

PAWA: Aero Talvez 

Port au Prince & the Johnny Appleseed of Couchsurfing

Seeing is Believing

More installments to come soon...



Santo Domingo




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