Nice People Networking

Puerto Plata: Fathom Travel is rewriting the playbook on cruising

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” said Francisco, a Fathom Travel impact facilitator. Gone is the gambling casino, the second rate Las Vegas stage shows and the six hours in port so one can check off their bucket list. What stays on Fathom Travel’s 750 passenger M/V Adonia during its week long cruise to Puerto Plata is fine dining, elegant appointments, friendly crew and excellent musical entertainment. What’s new is the opportunity to learn from a variety of entrepreneurial community groups in the Dominican Republic already pulling themselves into the 21st century.

Learning from and assisting RePapel will be the first in a series of articles on this new voluntourism niche. A cynic may scoff at a group of affluent cruise passengers doing good deeds, other than buying another set of flamingo imprinted coasters and escaping to the luxury of their ship. Yet on this week long cruise with three days in Puerto Plata the operative words are cumulative impact.

RePapel, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

The RePapel cooperative was founded in 1998 in the Dominican Republic to recycle paper, give women an income and help families stay together. Sounds lofty but it works.

The Dominican Republic is stunningly beautiful and poor. It’s difficult for men to find good paying jobs and next to impossible for women. Frequently families and children are separated during the week as one or both parents may have to travel to other cities for work. Anyone can google RePapel and read of its success, but only Fathom Travel cruise passengers can feel and hear the joy expressed by these women as they revel in their new life.

Sitting in a non air conditioned room in high heat and humidity tearing paper into small pieces by hand is not an easy first impression on an outsider that this is the path to entering the 21st century. Why doesn’t RePapel simply buy an inexpensive shredding machine? Yet when a power outage cuts the single fan that was stirring the languid air the first reality in a long road to understanding the daily challenges of life for the average resident in Puerto Plata begins to dawn. Outages caused by the antiquated city power plant are frequent.

The Dominican Republic’s new progressive government has plans to replace the power plant when that item on the long list of national improvements is reached. In the meantime, tearing paper by hand while enjoying conversation with convivial people suddenly feels as enjoyable to this chef as kneading bread dough.

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June 30, 2016

Category: DR News |

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Last updated January 21, 2018 at 12:31 AM
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