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Monday, April 28, 2014

Monkey Around and Eat Like a Local: Jay's Adventure in the Dominican Republic Part Dos

I made a friend
Dawn broke on day two in the Dominican Republic as I slumbered at a beachside resort in Cabarete, listening to the sound of the Atlantic Ocean in the background. Our arrival day for MancationDR had come and gone. I witnessed some sights of the country's beautiful north coast, saw plenty of friendly folks enjoying their moped rides in tropical paradise, and gotten my first taste of Dominican bite and booze, but now the adventure really began. Our group hopped aboard a bus operated by Sexy Carlos with Bavaro Runners, as opposed to our Dominican Tourism Carlos, to make our way down dirt roads and over mountains to Monkey Jungle and Zipline Adventures. The great thing about Monkey Jungle is that it is actually a doctor and dentist office, offering free care to many Dominicans who could otherwise not afford any medical treatment whatsoever. The money raised from the monkey hangouts and ziplines is used to pay for medicine and supplies, and much of the treatment is provided by volunteer doctors. The monkeys aren't native to the Dominican Republic, but they sure were playful and adorable, especially when we had food for them. The ziplines took me for a wild ride as well, and I especially liked the brief moments I had to check out the incredible views while speeding down a cable in a rather snug harness.

A view over the zip line course at Monkey Jungle



Medical and Dental Offices at Monkey Jungle

Sandro's Cafe in Cabarete
The monkey feeding and ziplining worked up a hunger in our group, so we took a stroll back to the beach and hit up a restaurant on the main drag in Cabarete. Sandro's Cafe offers up authentic Dominican cuisine which of course made me very excited. There are a handful of dishes that I knew I had to try included the famous pollo guisado and fried plantains.

Of course, Dominican cuisine really starts with rice and beans. We had plenty of puffy white rice and beautiful black beans to pass around the table. The pollo guisado dish consists of chicken that has been braised in a mixture of tomatoes and garlic, as well as some other flavoring vegetables and spices. It comes out juicy and tender. The fried plantains are sliced and smashed into discs of fruit ready to be fried. Somewhere between a banana and a potato in consistency, the fried plantains hit the spot as a great snack when sprinkled with a little sea salt. We also had some fried chicken, or pollo frito, to pass around. I truthfully liked the guisado better, but it is hard to pass up a crispy piece of fried chicken! I could eat this meal over and over again. In fact, perhaps it is time to try to make it for myself. Any volunteers to be taste testers?

Dominican Pollo Guisado, a Braised/Stewed Chicken Dish

A Platter of Fried Plantains

Pollo Frito

A Complete Plate with Rice, Beans, Pollo Guisado, Pollo Frito, and Fried Plantains