Behind-the-Scenes | Discover Humanity: Dominican Republic

Leaving Haiti by bus we crossed one of the world’s harshest land borders. This political boundary divides the island of Hispañola into two different worlds. We watched the scenery change completely as we arrived in our second country – the Dominican Republic. The radical diversity between the two nations who share the same island left us with many thoughts and questions about how and why a border can create such dramatic differences. During the coming days we were to explore around the country, “We carry just a few things…” to capture different ways of life, to meet and get to know the Dominican people. Our plan was first to visit the country’s north coast famous for its surfing and Caribbean beaches. Surfing is a passion in this country not only for tourists but also for the locals. From the north to the south we had the chance to speak with surfers veterans of the sport and the new generation. No matter where we went, from beaches to central squares we kept finding people playing Dominoes. After filming every game the friendly Dominicans insisted on teaching us how to play. And one of us found himself a little bit addicted… “Again!” To accomplish our goal of capturing the culture of this country we did not stop moving. We traveled across the country using all forms of transport – “It’s going about 2 kilometres an hour…” long distance buses, cars, taxis, motorbikes, and by foot. “It’s a combination between walking and skating…” From the messages that we heard from the people we interviewed we were struck by the pride of the Dominicans about their natural environment and their dedication to protecting it. “Don’t cut trees…” “We have to take our responsibilities seriously,” “especially for our natural environment…” “…to connect more with nature, with Mother Earth…” After hiking with them deep into the rainforests… we understood why. Being warmly invited to share a holiday meal with our Salcedo producer Fernando and his family further emphasised the hospitality so prevalent in the culture of the Dominican Republic. Local ingredients cooked over a fire and covered with a banana leaf lid, served with a side of smoked pork – a holiday specialty – these are the flavours we will never forget. Another point of pride for the Dominicans became obvious… the rich history of the island and their pioneering place in the colonisation of the Americas. New friends walked us around the colonial streets of the capital explaining that this country was the site of the first university, cathedral and hospital in the New World. “Great experience.” “Cheers!” In the city of Santo Domingo many interesting stories were waiting for us. By experiencing the processes of making cigars and rum we found a deeper understanding of the Dominican Republic’s culture and history. “They were selling this liquor to pay taxes…” Impressed by their craftsmanship, we filmed as experts rolled some of the world’s finest tobacco leaves into handmade cigars. Rum isn’t just a drink in the Dominican Republic, it’s a way of life. We learned how an innocent sugarcane is turned into this famous spirit, and then tasted some of the best, appreciating every drop! From students to street musicians, and from lawyers to surfers, the messages from these Dominican people actively working for a better world further proved to us that there is hope for the future of humanity. A trip thankfully without obstacles to our filming, except for the daily rain, we truly enjoyed the Dominican Republic – its captivating nature, and its wonderful people. “He’s awesome.” “The best!”

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