Local life in Sanana, Dominican Republic
Having just returned from Samana, Dominican Republic, North Norfolk photographer,Pierre Butikofer, describes his experiences in the town of Samana.
We went over on a holiday in Dominican Republic and stayed at the Grand Bahia Principe Cayacoa. This resort hotel is based on the edge of the bay of Samana situated on the eastern part of the Dominican Republic. Samana bay is well-known for its whale watching since this where the humpback whales come to calve in the early spring. This will be a subject of a post in February 2014 as I have arranged to go whale watching, with Kim Beddall, a leading world expert on these huge mammals.
The town of Samana is situated about five minutes from the hotel and can be reached by the hotel’s shuttle bus. Most of the holiday makers I chatted to found the place a little intimidating especially for being pestered by the locals to purchase their goods. Not surprising really since they knew exactly when the buses were due to arrive! However, once one got past these , the first 300 yards or so were the worst, the town opened up and proved to be very interesting indeed.
Carrying my photographic gear and telling the street vendors that I was a “photographic journalista” they gave up pestering me and for the next few days they recognised me and were very friendly.
The town is bustling with both local Dominicans and Haitian immigrants. It has a thriving marketplace which gave rise to some fantastic photo opportunities. In addition, the local children were so photogenic with their braids.
I took some pictures of the youngsters and showed the parents what I had taken. I then had the idea of having taken the photos, to get them printed. I found a local print shop and had several of them printed and the following day, managed to track down the families and handed out the prints. Well it was like handing out winning lottery tickets or gold bars. They were so delighted that they called over their extended families, neighbours etc., for them to look at the photos. After that I had people follow me around and was pointed out to others. Was like being a mini celebrity
This actually worked to my advantage because it allowed me to wander down the narrow streets of Samana where very few tourists would venture. I came around interesting sights such as an illegal gaming club and a funeral parlour which had coffins still wrapped in their transparent plastic coverings.
It was quite clear that Samana has some very talented street artists and this was quite clearly apparent by the graffiti that was painted on many available surfaces as well as the local shop signs.