It Takes a Village to Raise a Child

We have all heard the old addage, it takes a village to raise a child, but how many of us can say that our children have experienced this in their everyday life?


For the last four years, my children and I have been living this life. I must say that I truly love it. When we return to Canada we tend to go through some reverse culture shock each time.
We live in a small village in the country with local people. Most of the people in our village are what would be considered lower middle class in the western world. They live very modestly and share what they have.
My son is five years old. He walks to the store down the street on his own to buy himself a treat daily. The first time he ever did this walk alone was just before his fifth birthday. I remember that day vividly. He begged me to let him walk to the store. He kept saying he wanted money to go to the store. All his little friends go to the store for their parents. He wanted to be able to do what they do. I wrote a little note of what I wanted and sent him on his way. I stood on the side of the road in front of our house watching. A little further down the road a neighbour woman asked where he was going. He pointed to the store. She watched from the road and told him to watch for cars. Before he got to the store, another neighbour how is a motor taxi driver, stopped him and asked him where he was going. Made sure he had money and checked the note and reminded him of what he needed to get. He went into the store and got what he was supposed to get and came out so happy. Everybody on the street was cheering for him and telling how big he was now. It was such an amazing thing to see my little boy so happy for such a little thing as going to the store on his own.
In the western world I could never send a four year old child to the store on his own. However it’s very different here. My son has very few words because of a severe speech delay. Juana, the woman at the store is so very patient with him. He tells her what he wants or at least tries to. If she doesn’t understand she brings him behind the counter and lets him show her what he wants. I can’t imagine any staff at the local 7-11 in the western world taking this time with a child.
Everyone in the neighbourhood watches out for all the children. We went for a walk around the village one day. We had only been in the village for less than a few weeks. We had never left our street before. I wanted to see more of the village so we went on a walking adventure. Everywhere we went, everyone knew my son’s name. They all came to greet him and talk to him. I was shocked that so many knew who he was. He had never left our street yet people on the other side of the village new this child! They even knew the baby.
Living in a village like this, is a wonderful thing for my son. You see my son has some very severe developmental delays. His speech is very limited. He has balance issues. He isn’t as fast and agile as the other kids. He prefers to play on his own. He is a very special little boy, who lives in his own little world. Living in this village allows him to live his childhood as a normal child. He can do that because others in our neighbourhood love him and help to keep an eye out for him.
He is often visiting one Grandma or Grandpa or another. He calls all elderly people Mama and Papa. He has numerous here. He visits them all and they all love and cherish him. They let him help them in kitchen, hold him in their laps. Let him watch television with them. Feed him little treats. He gives them love and unconditional friendship and he gets the same in return. For some of these elderly people, he is the highlight of their day.
He plays with the other kids in the neighbourhood to the best of his ability and no one notices that he is different. If they do, they don’t say anything. They just simply allow him to tag along. The older kids in the neighbourhood often come and ask to take him and his baby brother to the store or to the park with them.
This child of mine flits up and down the street, with a stick between his legs, riding his horse and making stops along the way to visit and chat with everyone. His flapping hands and stuttering doesn’t seem to bother anyone. They just love him as he is.
This is exactly what my son needs for his education. He needs to know that the world is a good place and that people are genuinely good and caring for the most part. He is very innocent and I don’t want to change that anytime soon. He learns so much from each person in the community. He has learned so many words from everyone that spends time with him. He knows how to count from spending time with the older kids and women in the neighbourhood. He knows about tools for spending time with some of the men fixing their cars in the village. He is always investigating everything going on in the street. No one ever tells him to go away. This is the best education for my son!
We will be leaving for our native country of Canada soon. I know that my son will enjoy being in Canada with all the conveniences and activities that we do while we are there. However he will very much miss his independence that he has here. He will miss all his loving Grandparents and other Mothers and fathers. He will very much miss the village that has helped to raise him for the past four years.
 
 

I Like Him Just the Way He Is!

My son is 5 years old. He is a bundle of energy and can talk your ear off, although you probably won’t understand more than 60% of what he says. He is bright and inquisitive.
Today we went to the doctor to get a physical done for his upcoming dental surgery. Our family doctor retired and I only take my kids to the doctor if they are really sick or need to be seen by a doctor. So we went to a walk in clinic.
He was fascinated by everything!! The nurse taking his height, weight and vitals was not enjoying her time with this energetic little boy! He kept ducking down and looking up when she tried to put the measuring stick on his head to measure him. He kept turning around to hug the pole behind him on the scale, measurement apparatus. She kept reminding him “remember I want you to face the front?” To which he would reply “Yeah! Call Marshall!” Marshall is a character from his favorite show, Paw Patrol! I was finding it quite comical because this is very normal for him.
We moved to the exam room to get his blood pressure. I thought he did well, it only took 5 times!! She wanted him to sit very still and not talk…he’s FIVE!!! He even talks in his sleep!
As you can see in the picture he has no socks on. This morning when I put socks on him, he took them off and said “No fanks, no paw patrol” He wasn’t wearing socks if they weren’t paw patrol and those are all in the wash. I could panic and rush to wash them but it’s summer and it doesn’t really matter if he wears socks or not in the grande scheme of things. His shoes are in the basket of the stroller because they were “tinky”.
Doctor comes in for his exam. After about 3 minutes in the room he asks if I’ve considered medication for his high activity. I say, “we like him just the way he is” with a big smile. He says, ” can you lay on the bed?” To which my child chirps, “yep” and continues to crawl around on the crinkly paper. Doctor says “ok lay down on the bed so I can check your tummy”. My child lifts his shirt and says, “it der!” Pointing to his tummy. I’m trying not to laugh. He finally gives a poke or two and moves on. In the end he referred us to the paediatrician in the office and completed the medical for, and faxed it off for me.
Next week is our paediatrician appointment and I know that medication and behavior modification will be discussed. I have made the decision to embrace my son for who he is. I don’t want to change him because he simply isn’t broken. He sees the world through very different eyes. Yes he has some pretty severe delays in speech, fine and gross motor skills, he has huge sensory issues and a possible processing disorder. I know that from my older grown up boys that even without medication and behavior modification he will turn out ok and be a great human being that is capable of loving and being loved, has empathy, is kind and giving and helpful and can hold down a job doing something that he loves.
He may never go to university. He may decide he wants to be a dog cuddler at the Humane Society, but there is a job for everyone in this world.
My job as his parent isn’t to change him so he can fit into the world but to teach him to love who he is and stand proud for the unique person he is no matter what because we like him just the way he is!
 

20 Ideas for Worldschooling from Home

We have been in Canada for the last nine months enjoying Worldschooling from our own country. We’ve been discovering so many experiences and things that we didn’t know existed before! We’ve had such a great time exploring our surroundings!


Once you get into the groove of finding new experiences for your family, you will get pretty good at digging to find things! I often will google free things to do in (whatever city or town) this weekend. Usually I get some great ideas for things to do! Often times smaller lesser known groups will have things to do on these sites when you google. You can also try Craigslist of local community groups on Facebook for ideas of things to do in your area. 

Here is a list of 20 ideas to get you started Worldschooling in your own community. Have fun Worldschooling and experiencing new things with your family in 2017! Make this the year you rediscover your home town and all the fantastic things it has to offer.
1. Visit museums, galleries, parks, and other attractions you’ve never been to before.
2. Source out festivals from different cultures. During July I happened to find a Latin Festival advertised in the window of a little Latino store on a walk one day. It was totally free and had the best food!
3. Visit a nearby town or village that you’ve never been to before. Take a map of where you live and with a compass draw a circle of 60 miles around your city. Try to visit as many places as possible within the circle that you’ve never been before.
4. Visit new playgrounds that you’ve never been to before in your city or town
5.Take public transit for a day. Some places have a double decker bus as their public transit. Take the train or any form of public transit that is new or not often used by your family.
6. Take up a new sport or activity that you’ve not done before. Skiing, skating, yoga.
7. Take a mini trip to a nearby town or village you’ve not been to before. Rent a hotel room and take the bus or train to get there! Often there are great deals on hotels and transport mid week. 
8. Make care packages for the homeless in a city near you and hand them out.
9. Volunteer at the local New Comers Center or Immigrant Center in your community. Get to know other families from other countries. Share your cultures and experiences with each other.
10. Spend more time exploring nature. Find new hiking trails and parks to explore

11. Be on the look out for free activities around your area and try to take in as many as possible. We’ve discovered a weekly lunch that is free to anyone in our community. It’s a great way to meet new people and try new foods. We’ve also found free festivals, free meals, and lots of other things to try just by being on the look out for new things to do

12. Go visit Grandmas and Grandpas in a seniors home in your area. The kids can read to them and the seniors love the visitors. 
13. Www.mealsharing.com is a great way to meet new people and share a meal. 
14. Www.couchsurfing.com We’ve been couchsurfing hosts for over 10 years. We’ve met so many amazing people from all over the world 
15. Www.warmshowers.org Host cyclists who will be in your area. They need either tent space in your yard or floor space in your house for the night and warm shower. Another great way to meet some amazing travelers! 
16. Www.workaway.info If you have some work that you could use being done (baby sitting, speaking another language to your family, house keeping, labour work etc) consider putting up a profile as a host on workaway. You get the help you need and your family gets to meet some pretty amazing people at the same time. 
17. Contact your local Tourism board and get an information package mailed to you. Look through the tourism books for your area and find new things that you didn’t know about in your area! 
18. Learn as much about the history of your area as you can! Seniors and elders can often help with this. Try to imagine what your town looked like 50 years ago or even 100 years ago! 
19. Get some friends together and play a local version of The Amazing Race, highlighting some of the lesser known gems in your area! You could make stops in China town or other areas in your area known for having a large community of a certain culture. 
20. Try new foods! Go to restaurants with foods you’ve never tried before! Try new foods from the ethnic aisle at the grocery store or the produce department. Try diffe to foods from different stores from different cultures. Visit a store in your local Chinatown or an Indian shop for example. 

Worldschooling on a Small Budget

We are a Worldschooling family that lives on a small budget. We live on less than $1000(Candian) per month. I’ve gotten to be pretty good at making our meagre budget work for our family and we still enjoy our time in each place that we go. In the past our family has consisted of a single mom and two or three kids. Always one kid in diapers. This is a factor in our budgeting for life on the road. 

Accommation: I find affordable accommodation wherever we will be a few ways. 
If we will only be in an area for a short while, I try to find workaway options in the area we will be going to. http://Www.workaway.info and http://www.helpx.net are a few that are good for finding places to stay for free in exchange for some work. The work can vary from speaking English to people, to cleaning, to painting fences. You arrange the deal before you get there. Just make sure everything has been hashed out before you leave. 
For longer stays we often rent a house or apartment. In poorer countries, I’ve found some really good deals on places to rent in poorer neighbourhoods of the city, living with the locals. I’ve never felt in danger living in these communities with my children. In fact the locals always look out for us and help us learn the language! They treat us so well. My children always have kids to play with and Grandmas and Grandpas to love on them when we live in these little local communities. 
For overnight accommodations I either Google cheap hotels in the city we will be in or I look on http://www.hotels.com. Hostels are becoming less and less affordable these days. 

Transport: Finding affordable transport both to and from our destination and also around the area once we get there is done a few different ways.
Www.skyscanner.com is a great tool for finding affordable airfares. You can fill in “Everywhere” for your destination and it will search for all locations from your departure airport. You can also make choices like looking for nearby airports and searching a range of dates. 
I’m also open to other modes of transportation. In the past we’ve taken the Greyhound bus from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada to Miami, Florida. A distance of just under 5000 km for $535 Canadian. I got this deal because I went down to the bus station and asked the person at the desk what it would cost to do that trip for myself and three kids. The young man helping me said that if I was brave enough to go that far with three kids he would give me the companion fare and his employee discount! It pays to speak to a person sometimes! 
There is also the option of taking a cruise and getting off. Taking an all inclusive and not taking the flight back. Taking the bus or train to your destination. So many options if you are open minded and willing to look around! 
Www.cheapcruises.com often has cheap cruises for last minute departures (less than 3 weeks out).
We often use public transit when we are traveling. Most locations will have a weekly pass or even monthly pass which can help to save money. We rarely rent a car.

Food: Eating out can be costly especially when kids are involved or more than one person. Keeping to the budget can be hard but not impossible. 


When we are in a place for a while, we find local markets and buy food for a few days and prepare it at home. We will eat out at street vendors once or twice a week as a treat. We find cheaper places to eat. Often times we will order a larger plate and share it amongst all of us. 
In larger cities in western countries, buffets are a great deal for eating out. A variety of food for everyone and everyone gets their fill. We like to do these around 3 pm for a late lunch and then just do sandwiches or something light later in the evening for supper.
We have started making lunch our big meal of the day. As North Americans this was hard to get used to at first but it is cheaper when you are traveling. Lunch is almost always cheaper than supper out. 
When we are in a place just for a few nights we often get street food that is cheap. If we are in a large western city, we will find a large supermarket or dollar store type shop and buy some things for the next day or so. 
Www.mealsharing.com is a great resource for when you are in a new city. You can search for hosts in different cities and then say you’d like join them. There may be a nominal fee to cover the costs of the meal for the hosts but it is a great way to meet locals and share a meal! 
Often we look on kijiji, Craigslist, Facebook community groups and other online sources for community events to find free meals around where we will be staying.
Www.foodnotbombs.com is another option for free food. Check the site for a listing of cities with Food Not Bombs groups and their feeding times and locations. Most of the meals are vegetarian but it is fun to get out and meet other locals in the area and share a meal. Sometimes if you go early you can help with the cooking of the meal, which can be fun for older kids.

Activities: We try to find as many free activities anywhere we travel. Places like the beaches, parks, creeks, rivers, and green spaces are excellent sources of free fun! 
Most museums and galleries will have a free entry day at least once a month. 
Some places will have a pass for multiple activities. Www.citypass.com is one that has these types of passes for a variety of cities. Www.smartdestinations.com is another option. 
It’s wise to ask locals for ideas of things to see and do in the area that you will be. Often times there is a cheaper way to access the attractions that locals know about. For instance in Edmonton, the water park at West Edmonton Mall is expensive to get into (about $40 per person) but if you call guest services and ask when the next fund raiser is and for the contact number you can get tickets for under $15 per person! The tickets are usually only from 7-10pm on a certain night (never from June-August) and your purchase supports a local group like a Hockey team or Cheer team. We got some great local insight from a guy we met at a hostel in South Beach, Miami. In the Dominican Republic there is an attraction called the 27 waterfalls. You can book a tour to the falls for about $60-$80 per person. You can also make your way to the gate of the falls by taking public transit (40 pesos) and paying at the gate (500 pesos). For a total of $12 USD per person in comparison to $60 is quite the savings. These are the kinds of things you can learn from locals in the area! Talking to locals can save you a lot of money on attractions in the area. There is always the tourist price and local price at every attraction. I try to make sure we get the local price everywhere we go! 

Souvenirs: We don’t really collect souvenirs much when we are traveling because for us this isn’t a vacation this is our lifestyle. 
I do like to collect lapel pins when we travel but they are getting harder to find as the years pass. If you have something that you collect go ahead and look for things to add to your collection.
We like to collect free things like ticket stubs, napkins from restaurants, business cards, brochures from attractions we went on, and even pressed pennies if we can find a machine that does them along the way. We then art journal all our goodies, which makes a great keepsake and memory of the trip. 
I like to get photo books made online and sent to a location at home. An idea would be to send two to Grandma or some other relative that would love to see your journeys and then you have a copy waiting when you get back! What a great keepsake for your kids long after the trip is over. 

Documenting Learning: 
We use the Seesaw Class app for keeping track of all the learning that is happening. I have the kids listed in the class. I can add photos, video and voice clips to their portfolios. With the class app I can give others “parents” access to the kids portfolios. I give access to our teacher facilitator that is associated with the school board we are registered with. You could also give Grandma or Dad access if that works for your situation. It’s nice to look back and see the progress the kids have made over the months. 

Dominican Republic’s North Shore on a Small Budget

Dominican Republic North Shore on a Small BudgetDominican Republic on a Small Budget (North Shore)

Accommodations:
There are a lot of options for affordable accommodations in the Dominican Republic on the north shore. Generally renting by the month is cheaper than renting by the week or day. Most places will have smaller budget hotels. 
I have found it cheapest and the best experience for us, to take a walk in a local barrio and find places for rent and ask how much. If you don’t speak Spanish you can always ask someone that does to call for you. You will be surprised at how much cheaper it is than the hotel. We rented a 2 bedroom house in the poorest barrio in the city of Puerto Plata for $100 Canadian per month and never once felt that we were in danger or uncomfortable. Our neighbours were wonderful people. We met some great friends and everyone looked out for us. By doing this I had a babysitter if needed. When I was sick, neighbour’s made sure my kids were cared for and that I was ok. The best was that my kids played with the local kids and made friends with neighbourhood kids and learned to speak Spanish without ever attending a language school. Some of our fondest memories are from living in that barrio.

There is a great little hotel on the beach in Río San Juan called the Bahia Blanca. They have deals if you stay a week. The hotel is not new or big or flashy but it is right on the beach and the views are spectacular. 

Bahia Blanca Hotel, Río San Juan 
In Samana, we were able to find a decent budget hotel for $12US dollars per night. The room was big enough for 4 of us. There was a kitchen to cook your own meals and laundry facilities. 

In Santo Domingo we spent the night in a Cabaña (hotel by the hour) as it was cheaper than a hotel. 

Food:
A lot of the local food is fried. As well the locals use a lot of salt and oil in the preparation of the food. MSG is used a lot as well. Be careful if this is an issue for you. Your best bet to is frequent restaurants in Cabarete and Sosua or along the Malecon in Puerto Plata that cater to foreigners and speak English if you have special dietary needs. 

Tropicoco Buffet (in Cabarete on Saturday nights) is a little more pricey than most places we go but so worth the cost. The food is very high end and well presented. The buffet is an American style buffet that is truly all you can eat. The Domincans haven’t grasped the concept of an all you can eat buffet yet. This place sometimes has guest chefs that do a buffet as well. The Thai buffet was amazingly good. The cost is about 600 pesos per person plus the cost of your drinks. Cocktails will run you 100-200 pesos per drink.

Fresh Fresh in Cabarete is a great place to hang out and eat. They offer a variety of sandwiches, smoothies and vegetarian fare at a decent price comparable to North American prices. English is spoken here. 

Rotisserie chicken is a great deal and can be found all over Puerto Plata. Expect to pay about 200-300 pesos per whole chicken. We’ve made a meal out of a whole chicken for the entire family.

San Jorge on the main road of Puerto Plata has the best pizza in the city. There is a downtown location that sells pizza by the slice. The main location on the main road has a bakery that sells bread and other baked goods. Try the lasagne it is the best and a great price at 150 pesos for the large portion you get.

Pica Pollo (fried chicken) is a staple in all of the Dominican Republic. It is available all over the island. Most places will give you a large portion of chicken with fried platano for about 150 pesos. The better places have long line ups! 

Majuma and yaroa will thrill anyone that loves French fries, meat and cheese. For Canadians it is a little like Poutine. They are both pretty much the same. French fries with either beef or chicken layered on top and topped with shredded cheese. I always ask for it without ketchup and mayo otherwise it is drowning in the condiments. The Dominicans slather ketchup and mayo on everything!

Riki is a sandwich with ground beef in a tomato sauce with shredded cabbage and avacado. It’s usually sold at mobile street vendors on the street. The best place to get it in Puerto Plata is down the main road at the bottom at the entrance to Padre Las Casa (there is a walkway over the road for pedestrians only here). Coming from the top of the hill take a right at this intersection. On the side of the road you will find this vendor along the side of a big wall for a school enclosure. He sells fresh made juice and Riki. Go early because he leaves at noon.
Attractions:
It should be noted that wheel chair accessibility is near non existent in the Dominican Republic. There may be a wheel chair ramp to enter the facility but then stairs later on. Often times the ramp is very uneven or not wide enough for a wheel chair. Sidewalks are often very narrow and uneven or broken. Service dogs are not well known here as well. 

Teleferico (Cable car) : The cable car will take you to the top of the mountain. Once there you can enjoy botanical gardens. Numerous paths are around the top of the mountain. There are now directional signs. The view is phenomenal from up here. Go early as often it clouds over and makes seeing the view difficult.
You can easily get here by taking public transit. Ask the public car or guagua driver to let you off at Teliferico. If you don’t speak Spanish just keep saying “May boy a telly ferry co” They will let you off on the side of the road. You can either take a motorcycle taxi to the entrance or walk (it’s about 4 blocks to walk)

27 Waterfalls: You can get here via public transit easily. Find your way to Javilla (Say “ha- bee-ah”) Tours station. Tell someone working there “bainty see-et-ay cascada” They will drop you off on the side of the high way. You will need to walk in about a km to the entrance of the falls. Be prepared to get wet. Unless you bring a gopro type camera you won’t be able to take pictures. Your bag can be stored behind the desk with the staff. It’s about 500 pesos for the day. This includes your guide. Be prepared to walk and then jump/slide down various waterfalls to the bottom. 
Malecon: The Malecon comes to life on Saturday and Sunday nights. Music and dancing in the streets. Vendors selling food and drink and glow in the dark toys. During the day it’s a quiet place to hang out and spend time on the beach or just sit under the shade of one of the many almond trees lining the malecon. There are several small “casitas” along the malecon that serve drinks and sometimes food. Be aware that there are no washrooms in the casitas. There are public washrooms located along the malecon but you must pay 10 pesos to use the facilities. Part way down the malecon on the other side of the road is La Sirena. This big department store has everything. There is a Dominos Pizza inside here. We like to order a pizza and eat it on the malecon or beach. If you come in February, the malecon is Busy almost daily! Every weekend is crazy with excitement. There are free concerts on stages along the malecon. This is for Carnival. The big celebration is on February 27 but there are things happening all month long on the malecon. 

Ocean World:
This marine park is no better than others. We went for Christmas one year. I wouldn’t go more than once. The snorkel reef was a hit with my preteen and teen. The Tiger Grotto where you can swim in the same pool as a tiger (with glass between you) was freezing cold but the kids enjoyed seeing the tiger. There is a private beach here, a bird habitat that allows you to interact with the birds, sea lion and dolphin shows. My kids did swimming with dolphins and the shark and sting ray encounter. Prices vary. They sometimes have offers online. 

Monkey jungle is a zip lining tour. It is cheaper if you find your own way to the site than book a tour. They are located just out of Cabarete. The zip lining is the only one that is certified on the island. There are monkeys that you can interact with.

La Pulga (flea market) operates every Tuesday and Wednesday. Any moto taxi will be able to take you. There are numerous motos sitting outside the entrance ready to take you anywhere. Make sure you agree on a price before you get on the moto or inside a taxi. For a moto taxi I wouldn’t pay more than 50 pesos anywhere in the city limits. For a taxi it will be more. Public cars have a set fee. Within Puerto Plata they are 25 pesos per person. They pack the cars very full. You can pay for 2 spots to give you more room. Children under 5 are free but must ride on a knee. There are no seat belts of child safety seats. 

El Choco Caves is a national park just outside of Cabarete. There is a small fee to enter the park which also gives you a mandatory guide. The guide will show you local flora and fauna and take you into the caves. You are allowed to swim in a couple of the caves. The water is very deep and very cold. Small children should be monitored closely.
Free things to do:
Malecon for a walk and beach time during the day.

Beaches

People watching

Downtown Puerto Plata
Parque Central is the local gathering place during the day. It is located in the city centre. Feeding the pigeons is a favorite of ours. Night time here is more popular than mid afternoon. 

If you are looking for snorkel gear, a beach wrap or anything else Casa Nelson is the place to head. Located across the street from Parque Central. Beach warps can be found here for 250 pesos, while on the beach they are 1000. Snorkelling mask and snorkel is a bargain here as well in comparison to in a gift shop. While you are downtown do some window shopping. If you like 70’s and 80’s style clothing you will be in heaven. It’s fun to see the styles available!
Beaches:

Río San Juan is worth the trip. A secluded little beach in town that feels like your own private beach. The public beach just outside of town is a great place to spend the day. Snorkelling is phenomenal here. You can see the bottom even when you are quite far out. The water is very calm, being within a quiet bay. There are a few vendors selling food but this is not a tourist beach at all. The Gua Gua from Puerto Plata can be caught just up the road from the hospital. You will see a line of white vans parked on the side of the road. This is the “parada” for the gua gua (bus) to Sosua, Cabarete and Río San Juan. Going to Río San Juan will run you about 150 pesos each. Be sure to get water from one of the vendors at the parada as the ride can be hot in the gua gua. 

Cabarete is the beach to go to for water sports. The water is really rough for swimming. We like to sit on the beach in a rented beach chair (100 pesos for the day) and watch the kite surfers do their stunts. Moto taxis in Cabarete have a flat fee of 25 pesos per person for anywhere within town.

There are numerous bars along the beach that offer seating on the beach with food and drinks. Taking a walk along the beach you will find all kinds of fare to choose from. Fresh seafood, burgers and pizza. Most places have daily drink specials. 
Kite surfing schools are all up and down the beach to try your hand at kite surfing. Prices vary so shop around. Off season is easier to get a good deals as most of the instructors are looking to make a few dollars during the off season. Vela Hotel on the beach offers water sport equipment rentals. There is a really cool little shop in Cabarete that sells all handmade up cycled items. Bags made from old kite surfing parachutes, coffee packages and tetra boxes. 
Sosua is the beach to go to for swimming and playing in the water. The water is calm and clear. Along the public beaches are numerous beach bars and gift shops. There is a colmado (small store) at the far end of the beach toward the cliffs on the left when you are facing the beach. You have to walk up a small hill and pass thru a gate to get to the store. They have soda pop for local prices (15 pesos) as opposed to the stores down on the beach (50 pesos). They will also sell you a 2L bottle of soda pop and plastic cups. The local brand of soda is called Kola Real and it is significantly cheaper than American brands. We like this brand. 
There is a glass bottom boat and banana boat rides on the beach for a fee
Within the town of Sosua there are numerous bars and shops to check out. A trip to the Jolly Roger restaurant and bar is a must. They have 150 peso fish and chips on Wednesdays and a Merchants Faire on Sunday’s. They also do bingo one afternoon a week. Kids love the pirate decor. 
Long Beach is located along the malecon in Puerto Plata. It isn’t as clean as some of the other beaches and can be dirty from locals using the area. There aren’t Any garbage cans along the beach so it gets dirty. 

Pueblito Beach is located just outside of Puerto Plata just before the Playa Dorada Resort entrance. Any public car, gua gua or moto taxi will take you there. This is a clean little beach area. There are some apartments and shops but it is not usually busy, except occasionally on weekends and during the week of Semana Santa when every beach is packed. There is a bar on the beach that isn’t bad. Francois’s Restaurant on the beach has good food in a great setting for a nice evening out. 

Santo Domingo
If you go to Santo Domingo a visit to La Cava De la Meson is a restaurant you can’t miss. Unique in that it’s inside a coral cave. The food is divine and well presented. Prices are similar to American prices for a restaurant of this level. A little pricey but worth the visit. Check out the entire location as there is a beautiful patio area with water and other caves to explore.

China town and the flea markets in Santo Domingo are an experience in their own. Expect crowds and lots of noise.

There is a zoo and an aquarium.

Littles are sure to enjoy feeding the pigeons in Central Park. There is a children’s museum nearby but it wasn’t anything special. Not many activities for the kids. 

Santiago

Las Colinas Mall in Santiago has a vast variety of shops. There is also a cinema with about 6 movies playing per day. At least one is usually shown in English. 
In the basement of the mall is the Jumbo department store. It has a little of everyone. Just outside the Jumbo store is a little train that kids ride around the mall for 60 pesos per person. This is a high light for the littles.