This is a report about Diane Pellerin's Place
in Puerto Plata, in the Dominican Republic.
As my Equiworld tour is part business, partly visiting
family scattered across the globe but partly adventure, I chose
to visit Diane Pelliniès place in the Dominican republic
for a little adventure. Some say that an adventure is an experience,
which is partly scary, partly joy but certainly something never
to be forgotten and the Dominican Republic is all of that. Click
here for details of the Equiworld Sun Camp Youth project.
After an easy flight in from Miami, personally, I found the towns
in the Dominican republic noisey and unpleasant and my advice
is to land in Puerto Plata and get Diane to have you picked up
and take you directly from the airport to her place in the countryside.
But be ready for a bit of a shock because if the roads and driving
doesn't freak you out the shacks of houses you pass before you
get to her pleasant base camp probably will. I was picked up by
one of her guests and Diane's wonderful welcome was the reassurance
that I needed in this strange place. My chalet was one of many
built in a peaceful valley by her father during the 20 years they
have lived there. Spartan but clean, my home for the week had
lots of room and gave me a wonderful feeling of being right in
the middle of the best of tropical countryside. As we had driven
from the airport I had already been told that people often came
and wanted to leave the moment they arrived, but hey! as I told
you this is an adventure! My advice to anyone who gets that feeling
is to stay a while, for there is more to this place than is at
first obvious to the eye.
Diane's guests are fairly laid back and if you speak
French or Spanish or English you will be fine as Diane is originally
from Quebec in Canada. To set the scene: There is a river to swim
in at the bottom of the garden, a pool table, a bar and the internet.
Self catering is the order of the day so you will do well if you
are into meeting the people and finding out about the real Dominica.
Diane has 20 years experience in tourism, which means that she
knows all of the best ways of getting about, spending a peso and
her advice about where to go is nothing short of excellent! It
needs to be noted that this is essentially a poor country so one
can understand why they sometimes try to overcharge the rich tourists
or if that fails might be tempted try steal what you have. But
for those who are bored with five star isolation this is the place!
Speaking to her many guests, they all agreed that he reason they
were first attracted to Diane's place and now keep coming back
is for the unique and original experience of riding the native
horses, enjoying nature and get a chance to unwind on the beach
or in the mountains in glorious weather.
The riding is simply fun and there is many a mini
adventure on horseback to be had on the plucky little Paso Fino
ponies whether riding up in the mountains and down on the beach.
No jumping, no schooling, just ride out into the countryside on
western saddles getting truly involved in real Dominican life.
On the first night I was there I have to confess to drinking just
a little too much rum but after sleeping like a baby I rose at
9.00am in time to meet the ponies and Hosay who was our escort
on our ride out. When I saw those little Paso Finos which looked
a bit scruffy and thin I remembered not to judge them on looks
alone for I had met the breed in a tropical setting before. I
knew also that this centre has been recommended by the company
Hidden Trails to its clients for many years and for good reason.
What a bunch we were that morning though, most with no hats, one
rider with not too much experience and me who has ridden forever
all mounting up into our western saddles onto our ponies no more
than 13 to 14 hands in hight.
If I had doubts, then they dissapeared the moment we set off and
I recognised that Paso Fino directness of purpose - "O.K.
let's get to work!" said my mine to me. Hosay led from the
rear? looking after the rider with least experience while I rode
forwards with Cracker in the place I am most used to be, out in
front. The ride took us right into the countryside, through fields
of sugarcane, through rivers and right up the side of a mountain.
The ponies were indeed the stars of the show and to say they were
as sure footed as a mountain goat says too much for goats. The
saddles were comfortable and the Passo Fino paces too, with canter
after pleasant canter up hill after hill. Often I would look round
just to see how our novice rider Marie from Sweden was and always
I just saw a huge smile. Sometimes I lead and sometimes XXXX Hosay
had absolute confidence in his ponies and had mounted us all well.
A mid morning break gave the ponies a well earned rest and for
us there was fruit juice straight from trees, salsa and marengie
music and a chance to dance with the locals - remember, anytime
is a good time to dance in the Caribbean! Back into the saddle
for a further hour, our lunch was an absolutely Caribbean affair
high up in the mountains, which gave us a wonderful view of Puerto
Plata and the beaches far below. The rest of the ride back home
was at a peaceful pace but on the whole the rides tend to vary
from fairly fast to easy going depending on the standard of riders
riding on the day but even the quiet days are far from boring.
Riding down to the beach can provide you with superb gallops or
for those who are not inclined some shopping while the ponies
rest happily in the shade and wait to return you to Diane"s
place. Of course, I can understand how those who choose the five
star hotels by the beach would find this place scary. Personally,
I was happy that I had found somewhere which allowed me to experience
the real Dominican Republic. As I sat with my rum, coke and fresh
lime picked straight from the tree I watched the sun go down chatting
to Diane about our new Youth Eco-holiday project and how it would
probably benefit those chose to come just as much as the Dominican
Equiworld Sun Camp. Check out: www.suncamp.4t.com/
Equiworld members between the ages of 18 and 26 can take part
in a project designed to be great fun yet benefit peoples needs
in the Dominican Republic. The project runs from mid June through
to mid September and there is no limit to the length of time you
decide to stay with the project. You will be living dormitory
style with other like minded people of about your age and as self
catering is the order of the day so expect to do your share of
duties such as fetching groceries etc. However, if dormitory life
is definitely not for you, there is a possibility that Diane can
accommodate you in a chalet perhaps sharing with your friends.
Your basic costs once you are off the plane will be minimal at
between $100 - $50 a month for the chalet. How much you spend
after that is entirely up to you but factor in food and spending
money for luxuries such as soap and riding! There is no doubt
that this is a country where you can live well and have great
fun without spending a fortune. Your riding will cost you about
$20 US, or 26 Euro's per day for 3 or 4 hours with lunch included
and you can ride as little or as often as you want. If you want
to spend a great summer doing some good work which will benefit
the lives of people less fortunate than yourself then this project
could be for you and there will be lots of time left over for
sunbathing, sightseeing and dancing the night away to salza and
Merngie music too.
To contact Diane who is the person in charge of the project: Contact:
Diane Pellerin, firstname.lastname@example.org for futher information.
For project data: Click here Equiworld
Sun Camp Youth project.