The island of Hispaniola was explored and claimed by Columbus on his first voyage in 1492. In 1697, Spain recognised French dominion over the western third of the island which became Haiti in 1804. The remainder of the island, by then known as Santo Domingo, sought to gain its own independence in 1821, but was conquered and ruled by the Haitians for 22 years. It finally attained independence as the Dominican Republic in 1844.
A succession of unstable, mostly non-representative governments was interrupted from 1916 to 1924 by the US Marines' occupation of the country (the Marines also occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934). Democracy was short lived. Rafael Trujillo took power in 1930 and held it, with US support as anti-Communist, until he was assassinated in 1961.
Trujillo's puppet president Joaquin Balaguer lost the 1963 elections to socialist Juan Bosch Gaviño whose 1963 constitution separated church and state, guaranteed civil and individual rights, and endorsed civilian control of the military. In 1965, US Marines intervened again to support a coup by the rightist general Wessin y Wessin. Balaguer became president again in 1966. He maintained a tight grip on power for most of the next 30 years when international reaction to flawed elections forced him to curtail his term in 1996. Since then, regular competitive elections have been held in which opposition candidates have won the presidency and the Dominican economy has enjoyed high growth rates.
In the '80s, the quiet seaside towns of Sosua and Cabarete became popular with Quebeckers as alternatives to crowded Mexican resorts like Acapulco, Cancun and Puerto Vallarta. I started going there in '85 and spent one or two weeks soaking in the Caribbean sun almost every winter until I retired in 1989. I even bought some land that I sold only recently.
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It all started with a week's relaxation in the sun at Sosua's Charlie's Cabanas with my friend Claudette in the winter '85.
At that time, Sosua was still small and its beach not crowded.
This is the other end of Sosua beach.
And here the dramatic crashing of waves on nearby rocks.
We went again the following year but stayed in the Cofresi resort in Luberon.
The Cofresi resort was somewhat isolated but it offered all possible services so it was OK for solid relaxation.
Here is the other end of the upper swimming pool. The resort also had a lower swimming pool as well as a sea water inlet protected from the surf.
In 1987 I took more interest in the local culture and visited the capital Santo Domingo.
That year, I stayed in a friend's house in Sosua.
And I purchased four lots in the wooded part of the Perla Marina Development with the idea of selling three to pay for a house someday.
I was also hoping the land values would rise enough to leave a handsome profit.
Actually it turned out to be an unfortunate investment.
In 1988 I took a week's rest with Louise who was thinking of buying some land in Perla Marina.
I went there again for complete relaxation in 1989. New hotels were popping up every year but the value of my lots was stagnating because too many new subdivisions were saturating the market.
This was my last visit before retiring.
I returned only once in 1996 after retiring. Sosua had grown to be too noisy and crowded for my taste.
Sosua beach was still beautiful but it was getting crowded with all the new hotels being built close by. Land values were still stagnating because too many lots were being offered. I should have sold then but I let another 8 years pass before salvaging what I could.
My Sosua adventure was over The Sosua page had been turned in 1993 when I discovered the joys of backpacking around the world to discover new horizons every year.