Christopher Columbus was aware of the existing competition between the European kingdoms for trade routes to the East Indies and the spice trade. He believed he could reach the East Indies by sailing westward. He made several proposals to European monarchs and eventually the expedition was financed by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain.

On his first voyage in 1492, instead of reaching the East Indies, he landed on an island in the Bahamas and did more than he expected to. Columbus discovered the New World. He sailed around the beautiful islands of the Caribbean, convinced that he had found the East Indies. He claimed all of it for the Crown of Castile and called the people Indians. He started a chain of events that would affect the world's history for the next 500 years and more.

Puerto Plata, the city on this beautiful lush island where we had an unforgettable vacation was first founded in April of 1493, and the settlement was called La Isabella.

The Dominican Republic is an exotic isle of green foliage in the turquoise Caribbean Sea. The trade winds blow the sultry warm air that carries the music of the magical Meringue and the aroma of their uniquely divine and fascinating cuisine

It is a popular vacation Mecca that has grown exponentially in the last twenty years or so. Santo Domingo is the capital city of the Dominican Republic and the population at the time of our visit was over 5 million. We also visited a few villages close to Puerto Plata where we have met some of the kindest and happiest people.

Two days per week the hotel chef did a sea food cook out on the beach. The beach was set up with plastic tables and chairs. Lobsters floated in an ice bucket next to the enormous grill. A second bucket was filled with hundreds of bottles of beer covered with ice. People sat around the tables with their toes in the sand, drinking their cold beers, sun tanning and patiently waiting for their lunch.

Puerto Plata's real estate development was on steroids at this time and we planned to check it out in the morning before the BBQ. We met a real estate agent who was marketing a large condominium development. We spent so much time with the agent that by the time we got to the hotel the lobster grilling was over. I was so disappointed I could have cried.

Luckily for me, I had one more chance to have lunch at the grilling before we had to leave. I made the most of that lunch. I was the first to reserve a table for the two of us. Covered with sun tan oil and wearing a large hat, we sat at the table, feet in the sand, sipping a bottle of cold Dominican beer and inhaling the mouth-watering aromas blowing from the grill.

Can you imagine? I was sitting on a chair, my toes dug in the warm sand, a plastic table in front of me covered with a paper tablecloth. The waiter served me a big lobster, ready to eat, accompanied by a bowl of steaming hot butter flavoured with herbs and garlic.

I had been waiting for this... shells cracked, tossed all over the table, my hands and face covered with warm garlic butter... enjoying my food - it was awesome! I was like a mischievous kid, happy to make a big mess and enjoying myself!

It was great to be a kid again if only for a short time. Try it. I recommend it!

This was the most sensuous meal I have ever had. Can't you just see?

Happy people sitting on the beach, under the sun, having fun, enjoying great food... my husband's happy laughter mingled with the laughter and the cheers from the tables around us... great memories to remember! Dreams come in all shapes and sizes and this was a happy dream come true for me! Columbus had a great dream and it came true for him in more ways than he ever dreamed of.

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