Shopping for genuine Dominican Republic souvenirs is often easy since most of them are easy to find almost everywhere in the country.
Colorful art work in a variety of sizes and mediums is available throughout the DR. Popular subjects are the Taino petroglyphs found in the hundreds of DR caves and landscapes of mountains, sugarcane and coastline. Haitian art, known for its amazingly bright colors, is another option.
Looking for a one-of-a-kind souvenir? Consider an elaborate papier-mache mask worn by Dominicans during numerous festivals, celebrations and Carnival. They are most easily available in the Carnival towns of Santo Domingo, La Vega or Cabral. Elsewhere, the Carnival masks tend to be scarce.
The DR is the worlds’ largest producer of cigars and some are considered superior even to fabled Cuban smokes. Well known cigar brands include Arturo Fuente, Romeo y Julieta, Leon Jimenez, Cojimar and Montecristo.
Dominican coffee grows in 6 areas of the DR, and each one has a different level of acidity, or taste. All coffee is 100 percent Arabica with the beans hand-picked and processed within 24 hours. Dominicans typically serve coffee black with a large dose of sugar in an espresso cup. Several brands of coffee are readily available in markets and at some airports.
Jewelry and Gems
There are 3 reasons why DR amber is sought after. First, Dominican amber is 90 percent more transparent than amber found in the Baltic and other parts of the world. Second, the chance of finding an ancient insect in the hardened tree sap is 10% more likely. The third reason involves color. Yellow amber is common but additional colors include deep red and extremely rare smoky green and blue.
The DR is the only place on earth where the opaque blue semiprecious gem of larimar can be found. The result of ancient volcanic activity in the western region, the stone is mainly blue with hints of green and white, while shades of brown, gray or red can be woven throughout. Larimar jewelry makes a wonderful and lasting souvenir.
Mamajuana is considered not only a liquid cure-all for flu and other ailments but also an aphrodisiac. Only a few families still bottle the concoction of natural herbs, spices, tree leaves and exotic tree stems. Back home, you add the liquid ingredients such as honey, molasses, lemon juice and rum or wine, whatever the label calls for.
The vibrant beats of merengue can be heard through the streets. This is the DR’s national music and dance and gets the hips shaking and the feet moving. Many visitors like to take the music home to enjoy the melodies and relive memories of their DR visit.
When merengue isn’t played, expect the rhythmic sound of bachata. Bachata artists to look for include the Aventura and Juan Luis Guerra.
While rum can be found throughout the Caribbean, the rum produced in the DR is sweeter and heartier. This is a result of a natural distillation and aging process using special American white oak kegs. The top three brands produced in the DR are Bermudez, Brugal and Barcelo.
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