The other day I posted some pictures of the views during my morning walk with Mia and a dear friend, who is no longer living here, commented ‘MY mountain’. I knew what she meant. We all have something about this place that we call ours.

Another good friend calls the rock poking out of the ocean near the Puerto Plata harbour her rock. It’s what she sees when she’s having her coffee on her patio on her first morning back after a lengthy absence. Her rock welcomes her home.

These things we call ours ground us here. If we are away they are touchstones or talismans that pull us back here or maybe just transport us back to the memory of this place. To this home.

For some people it’s a favourite sea grape tree on the beach where they spend lazy days reading and relaxing. Others claim the whole beach. And others even claim the whole ocean. Or even the whole sky. 

But it can be your favourite stool in your favourite watering hole. Or that little Dominican restaurant that serves your favourite plato del dia. That perfect spot on the wall of the Malecon under the trees watching the ocean all day. Or a bench in Parque Central. 

We all claim something as ours.

But in reality, I think these things claim us. Just like this country did.

It starts claiming you when you first arrive. It’s the air full of so many smells. It’s the feel of the humidity wrapping itself around you. It’s the cacophony of noises. It’s the taste of that first frosty Presidente or Bohemia. Or that first icy Cuba Libre. It’s enjoying that Pina Colada made right in the pineapple on a hot sandy beach. That first cup of Santo Domingo coffee watching the sun rise over the ocean. The first bite of a crunchy hot tostone. It’s sitting listening to the ocean rushing in hour after hour endlessly. It’s all this and more.

It’s all these things that make us say things like – I can’t wait until I see my rock again. It’ll all be alright again when I see my mountain. Or I know I’m home when I see my ocean. Can’t wait to taste an ice cold Presidente at my favourite watering hole.

We all claim and are claimed.

And me. Well I love so much about this country. But if I have to pick – I guess I was claimed by Costambar. Warts and all. From my very first day on this island so very many years ago, this felt like home. It said you belong here. This funky, crazy, weird little piece of paradise. And I still feel that way every time I come through that entrance.