For the final night of our vacation, we decided to stay in Punta Cana, the resort town on the eastern edge of the island. This gave me an afternoon and morning of beach time and put us conveniently close to our departure airport.
After Santo Domingo, Punta Cana is weirdly artificial. Santo Domingo was loud, dirty, and full of life. Punta Cana is clean, well-groomed, expensive, and full of overseas tourists. I understand that areas like this can be a financial boon to counties like the DR, and I can understand why tourists would want to have a holiday where every care and rough edge of life is removed. Nonetheless, the inequality between the two areas of the country is overwhelming, and I find the perfection creepy. I don't think I am part of their target market.
We AirBnB'd a room in someone's home, which was a great choice. The hosts both spoke English, so we had interesting conversations about our respective countries, as well as research (the husband does academic business research). My mother got to eat a real Dominican breakfast - it was heavily meat-based, of course, so I had cornflakes. The conversation with locals was something I especially appreciated; I had searched fruitlessly for a cultural exchange or a program where we could share a meal with a local, and both my DR contacts and the Internet had failed me. One particular thing that stuck with me was our host assuring us that the Dominican Republic had many traffic laws, it's just that no one follows them...
I'll end with a picture of the beach, taken during the hour when the forecast called for 99% chance of rain.