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The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

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Dominican Republic: Culture, Food, and Experiences (Photo Essay)

This was my impeccable view of the beach during a two mile stroll I took part in.

Punta Cana, a township in the Dominican Republic is where I spent my first vacation outside of the United States. I had the luxury of staying five days in the glorious Caribbean destination and broadened my horizons within their culture.

I traveled with eight of my family members for this trip, and we all stayed active during our time in Punta Cana. We had plenty of opportunities to swim in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and inside of a cave. Along with that, I got to take a four-wheeler tour through the countryside of the Dominican Republic, go to a coffee and chocolate tasting, parasail above the ocean, go deep sea fishing, and many other first-time experiences.

Jewel Palm Beach All-Inclusive Resort is where we stayed during our vacation, leaving us with little dissatisfaction. The resort offered access to the ocean along with four different pools.

Getting to walk into the ocean and see all sorts of fish, sea turtles, crabs, and dolphins was the most surreal experience for me on this trip. I didn’t even need goggles to see them as you can see all of the creatures by only going waist-deep into the clear water.

The pools were nice but did not stand a chance against the ocean. The only downfall of the resort was that they shut down the access to the pools and the ocean at 7 p.m.

Along with trying Dominican coffee and chocolate, I also got to try new seafood such as Grouper and Mahi Mahi. The resort also had seven different restaurants, with each providing a different ethnic cuisine. One example was the Ratatouille and chocolate cannoli I had from their French restaurant. I also had the best fried rice of my life at their hibachi restaurant, as they used the famous Dominican Republic “Mama Juana” to enhance the rice. “Mama Juana” is a spiced alcohol usually made of rum and red wine combined with honey, tree bark, and herbs from the country. Overall, most of the food was spectacular and I’m glad I got to try the new cuisines and natural flavors of the Dominican Republic.

Along with exploring the ocean and food of the area, we also had the opportunity to discover some of the town of Punta Cana. We went looking for souvenirs around a lower-class area of Punta Cana, and I was approached by a local who shared some knowledge of the area. The resident was born in Jamaica and moved to New Jersey at a young age. Eventually, he moved to Punta Cana and stayed there for the last ten years. He described the area we were in as “the hood” of America, but not in the same way as Americans would view it.

“Where I’m from, the hood is people getting killed but here it’s the area where people are hungry, people are trying to make a living and stay out of each other’s way,” he stated.

Although our talk was short, it was nice getting to have some insight into the culture of Punta Cana.

A few other fun events I attended were karaoke night and the Michael Jackson show the resort presented. I worked up enough courage to get on stage and I sang “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi. While I didn’t think it was my best, the crowd loved it and I was coined the nickname “professional singer” by the host of the karaoke night. After hearing the best compliment, I ever had from singing, I went up and sang “She Will Be Loved” by Maroon 5 and worked the crowd to sing along with me.

The Michael Jackson show was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, as it will be the closest, I can get to a Michael Jackson concert. The show featured a dancer/actor portraying the famous singer, followed by five backup dancers. The show was lip-synched, but this was one of the extremely rare times where this is fine in my opinion. No one can replicate his voice, and I’m glad that they respected that during their performances. The group performed his famous songs such as “Thriller,” “Beat It,” “Smooth Criminal,” and a few others. The Michael Jackson look-a-like was able to perform the famous moonwalk and anti-gravity lean which I loved to see. This show was spectacular and is something I like to see once again.

While I love the pictures I provided for the photo essay, they don’t do enough justice to the natural beauty of Punta Cana and the Dominican Republic. The entire scenery of everything there is magnificent and was a life-changing experience for me. I have much more respect for their country and the experiences it provides for the tourists who travel there. I was humbled by its beauty, and most certainly would tell everyone to travel there at least once in their life.


Gary Jackson is a fourth-year communication major at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.

Ray Thomas-Lapham
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About the Contributor
Gary Jackson
Gary Jackson, Managing Editor
Gary is a fourth-year communication major from Kingston. He works as a resident assistant (RA). Gary began writing for The Trend in January 2022, and has interned with the Madill Record and Marietta Monitor newspapers. When Gary isn’t attending class and working, you can watch him making the game-winning catch at the ultimate frisbee game, hanging out with friends, or visiting with his family. Experience with The Trend: Managing Editor: May 2024 - present Sports Editor: Nov. 2023 - Apr. 2024 Senior Writer: Dec. 2022 - Nov. 2023 Contributing Writer: Jan. 2022 - Dec. 2022