DOs and DONTs of the Campo
DO Get accustomed with the people of the campo.
Even if your Spanish isn’t perfect (trust me, mines not the best), try to really learn from the people you meet on your trip! They are happy, full of life, and eternally grateful for all that you’re doing for them. They want to know about your life, and you can surely learn a great deal of knowledge from theirs.
DO Try the coffee!!!
Honestly, I never liked coffee until I tried it in the campo. It’s delicious and hot, and probably the only thing you’re going to drink besides water for the majority of the trip. It makes the early mornings bearable, and it’ll give you the jump start you need for a long day of work. What they say is true, “everything is better in the campo!”
DO Take awesome pictures/videos
The memories you make on this trip will be unforgettable, but you most definitely want documentation of them. Take pictures of everything— from the kids playing baseball with a ball of socks to the spider that has made its home in the corner of the room that you’re sleeping in. When those #MondayBLUEs hit you hard, you’re really going to appreciate the wrinkly-eyed, sun-tanned smiling faces of the campo.
DO Make a campo playlist
Nothing beats kicking back to some good ol' Michael Franti while lying down in your cot for a siesta. Also, if your playlist is popular enough, it might even be used for morning wake-ups (and then everyone will love you and your exceptional taste in music eternally).
DO Shower in the river
If the opportunity presents itself, make sure to shower (bathe) in the river. The water supply is endless, and the water pressure coming off the rocks is just like your shower at home! It’s the best way to fully get the shampoo and conditioner out of your hair, and it’s great for shaving your legs too. Yes, the water is cold, but it’s just as cold as the water in the bucket showers, so enjoy the ever-flowing, refreshing water of the river.
DO Eat the fruits
There will come a time on your trip in which a campesino(a) will offer you some kind of fruit— TAKE IT!!! The fruits growing in the DR just might be from the tree of life. They are incredibly fresh (since they aren’t processed the way fruits are in the US), and they’re always rich in flavor and juiciness. Whether you’re offered cajuil, piña, bananas, or cacao, don’t hesitate to take a bite. After a long hike up to the source, a little bit of fruit goes a long way.
DON’T forget wipes (or a lot of socks)
Even after you shower, you’re bound to get a little dirty walking around the campo through the evening. I, personally, always bring an over-generous supply of clean socks to change into before bed, but if you don’t happen to love socks as much as I do, wipes are the next best alternative. They’re also useful to carry around in your camelback for pre-meal cleanliness or for a cold, revitalizing facial in the middle of the day.
DON’T Put lemonade in your camelback
Putting lemonade (or any other powdered supplement) into your camelback may seem like a good idea at first— do yourself a favor and think twice. Powdered supplements are wonderful for a little bit of extra energy at meals, no doubt, but nobody can argue that it’s nearly impossible to get the right powder-to-water ratio in your camelback. Plus, if you do happen to get the perfect ratio, the mixed drink gets hot, will probably leak, and you won’t get the sour taste out of your water for days.
DON’T Use the barbed wire fences for support
Sometimes, the pico and pala will get the best of you, and there will be nothing more that you want than to rest your arms on the nearest structure. Resist the urge and check before blindly placing your bare hands on the rusted barbed-wire fences of the campo. These fences, usually used to restrict cattle, can also be a nightmare for clumsy, careless people like myself.
DON’T Eat too much cacao
Legend has it that eating too much cacao can make your tongue numb. It’s never happened to me before, but I wouldn’t be willing to take the risk. Make sure to limit yourself when eating these deliciously addictive fruit seeds.
DON’T Underestimate the power of mosquito repellent
Mosquitoes in the tropical climate of the Dominican Republic, much like in Miami, are ruthless. A great mosquito repellent will go a long way. Don't leave your campo home without it.