PEDERNALES — If your pockets have more holes in them than money, I have two words for you: Dominican Republic. I recently spent a month in the little-traveled Barahona and Pedernales provinces for under $1,000. Both are located in the island country’s dry southwest with its most important national parks, beautiful beaches, and the warmest people imaginable.
Old but air-conditioned guaguas, or buses, depart for the provinces from Santo Domingo, the capital, filled with passengers and blasting a reggaeton beat. The six-hour, $11.50 trip, with stops at military checkpoints and colorful vendors hawking chewing gum and roasted corn, allowed plenty of time to learn my seatmates’ life stories.