Hello there! My name is Joe and I am a visiting instructor at the Extreme Hotel’s circus arts, focused primarily on the flying trapeze. I thought I would give other new-comers a bit of a run down on my experience upon arriving here.
I had never traveled outside of the mainland of the United States until December 15th 2017, so my nerves were set on edge to say the least. I had been charged up by stories from friends who had visited already, excited to feel the warm tropical ocean for the first time in my life and see the way life is lived by a people I knew very little about. Seeing the treetops close in as our plane descended sprung an excitement I had never yet felt, and I could not wait.
I could not truly have anticipated how the town of Cabarete would have looked or operated and I soon figured out that it was not worth my time to arrive with expectations. Our first view of Cabarete brought more hustle and bustle than I had imagined: lots of excitement, locals selling goods, Moto and Guagua drivers taking the street by storm, and a very strong feeling that I was far out of my element. I stumbled through the little Spanish I could remember from high school to inform our taxi driver that it was just a little farther to our destination. We eventually arrived at the apartment we would be renting, paid our fare, and began to settle in. Having come from the northern U.S., we took a few moments to enjoy the sunshine, dip our feet in the pool, and make our plans to walk down the Extreme Hotel to watch our fellow circus friends perform in the weekly Friday circus show. Before anything else, however, we needed to get some basic supplies.
We had been informed by our friends that, should we need to get anywhere, we can simply start walking on the side of the road and someone will honk at us and offer us a ride. There are a few options: a Guagua, a Caro, or a Moto. We were approached by a man on a Moto (motorcycle) and he put both of us on the back and drove us to Janet’s, the supermarket. I have to say that I was pretty terrified the whole time, but overall very impressed with the maneuvers that this man was able to perform with 3 people on a motorcycle. A note to first timers: should you choose to ride a motorcycle remember that it is pretty risky but quick. These guys do this all day everyday with little to no issue, but just remember that you are on a motorcycle with no helmet. The style of driving in the Dominican Republic seems to be every person for themselves and can be treacherous sometimes, but these guys really do know what they are doing. Oh, also, watch where you put your feet. Those bikes get very hot and you can get burned!
After arriving back home with our water and a few groceries we discovered that our apartment complex, as do most, sells 5 gallon water jugs for very cheap. It is easier to do this way and cheaper, so keep an eye out! It was time to head down for the circus performance, so we gathered our things and headed down the street. We arrived at Extreme Hotel for the first time with excitement in our hearts to see the place we would be calling home for the next month: the flying trapeze rig. After walking through the front gates we got our first glimpse of the beautiful compound on which the hotel sits: verdant and lush plants, the flying trapeze, the CrossFit studio, the pool, the permaculture set up with fresh fruit and mint, the kite boarding school and restaurant, and best of all, the big beautiful tropical ocean. Taking a moment to breathe it all in, we made our way to the trapeze and greeted our friends, some old and some new, and prepared to be amazed by some amazing feats of aerial daring.
If you have never seen circus arts performed live, brace yourself. I have been doing it professionally for a couple of years now, and even with all that I know, I still find myself like a kid in a candy store, simply amazed. One thing I am always struck by is that the audience is usually quieter than I expect, but I always remember that true awe sometimes leaves people speechless. The grace and strength required to perform circus is like none other, but it all starts somewhere. After the show is completed all are welcomed to give the trapeze a go in our pay-per-swing session. During this time you will be given a safety belt, instructions on how to take off properly, and then it’s up the ladder. I have seen quite a few rigs now, but none have a view quite as unique as this one. In front of you is the rig and nothing but the rolling hills and shockingly green countryside, behind you the softly breaking waves of the ocean, filled to the brim with kitesurfers, and a soft ocean breeze. Your choice to try trapeze is never wrong, but there is no reason to let yourself miss out on this unique set up. Remember: first time is for fear, second time is for fun!
After the show we made our way to the restaurant to enjoy some delicious freshly prepared organic cuisine and mojitos made with the famous Taino Farm mint. Surrounded by friends, tasty drinks, and good food, I knew we had made the right choice.