Thandiwe Myke is like many New Yorkers who yearn for warmer climates during the harsh, cold winters of the northeast United States. Thandiwe celebrated her 30th birthday with two of her closest girlfriends during her most recent trip to Puerto Plata. “My trip was amazing! It was my girlfriends’ first time visiting Puerto Plata and also their first time at an all-inclusive resort and we had a blast.” She and her friends were fortunate to have stayed in Puerto Plata for nine days during their vacation. “I’m the type of person that when I go away on a trip, I want to feel like I moved! So I definitely could have stayed longer.”
You clearly have a love affair with Puerto Plata, as you have now traveled there a total of three times. What about Puerto Plata continues to draw you back?
Thandiwe: The culture and the people continue to bring me back. Dominicans are very friendly, genuine people. They are ready to help, nothing seems forced, and I love their cuisine. Dominican fried fish with yucca and tostones is absolutely delicious. I find that Dominican fish – from their sea bass to their salmon – is cooked very, very well.
Thandiwe: The ATV excursion was amazing. I did it during my first trip to Puerto Plata and I just had to go do it again, this time on my birthday. Driving the ATV gives you such a rush and you get to experience some of Puerto Plata city, especially on the journey to the ATV starting area. The ATV operators are really good because they allow you to ride on a small course to get you comfortable with the vehicle first. The excursion is a little dirty – you have to be okay with getting dirty because it can be rough but it’s fun; it’s very exhilarating! Midway through the day we stopped at a beach where you can go for a quick swim. I would definitely recommend doing an ATV excursion.
During her first trip to Puerto Plata, Thandiwe went horseback riding for the first time, an excursion that she loved. She recalls “it was a little scary but it was nice. It was my first time on a horse and we were taken up into the mountains and you get a beautiful view of the countryside. You also get an idea of rural living in Puerto Plata. It was really, really cool. On my next trip I plan to go to the 27 waterfalls, experience some of the underground caves and also go zip lining.”
What tips can you give to first time travelers traveling to Puerto Plata?
Thandiwe: First, there is a $10 visitation fee to the Dominican Republic. A lot of people leaving the plane were caught off guard when asked to pay this fee in the airport. Also, you have to prepare yourself for the workers who help you with your luggage at the airport as they are friendly but can be a little pushy. They are expecting a tip so if you know that you are not prepared to tip, politely decline their help with your luggage. At the resort, although it’s all-inclusive, it’s nice to give a little something to the employees, especially if you’ve been provided with great service or have ordered a lot of drinks.”
Can you tell our readers about the Puerto Plata nightlife, and your experience with the nightlife?
Thandiwe: Shamelessly, I went to the nightclub every night that I was there. They played a lot of different types of music. We didn’t realize it, but we traveled to Puerto Plata during their Labor Day [which is May 1] and so a lot of locals arrived and stayed on the resort for the weekend. The club completely turned into a discoteca with a lot of bachata and merengue and it was a lot of fun.
As well as being a serial visitor to Puerto Plata, Thandiwe is also a serial entrepreneur in the beauty industry. Currently running two businesses of her own, Thandiwe is both a licensed aesthetician and licensed hair stylist. Lashes by Tea is a service that provides individual lash extensions. “It is great for people who do not necessarily want to wear mascara and want to have the ready look. Natural, individual lash extensions are applied onto each eyelash in the shape, color, and length that the client desires. Lash extensions really brighten up your eyes and add so much to your face.”
Her other business endeavor, Tender Loving Hair Care, is a service that teaches parents of transracial adoption, any parent who adopts a child of African descent with curly hair, how to properly care for their child’s hair. “Hair is very much tied to identity and beauty and everyone’s hair requires specific care. It can sometimes be a challenge for adoptive parents to care for their child’s curly hair. I teach parents how to nurture their child into feeling good about themselves.”
What inspired you to pursue a career in beauty?
Thandiwe: I’ve always had a knack for it. I graduated college in a time when it was a bit difficult to get a job and I also didn’t feel married to what I studied in school. So I decided to get a trade in the meantime; I didn’t mean for it to be a full-time career. What happened is that I thoroughly enjoyed working in the beauty industry. When you look good, you feel good and I like the feeling that I give clients after I’ve performed a beauty service. Their whole energy just perks up. Whatever they were dealing with that day, it’s not a concern for the moment at least because they can look at themselves and feel good about themselves. With Tender Loving Hair Care, I find that when you instill self-esteem and self love and the importance of self beautification in children, especially little girls, it sets the tone for who they’re going to be as they grow into an adult or as they’re going into their teens.”
Within the next five years, Tender Loving Hair Care will be synonymous with transracial adoption and aims to be an integral part of the transracial adoption process.
If you could leave our readers with one piece of advice, what would it be?
Thandiwe: Take a Spanish class. [Laughing] Seriously, you don’t really need it but it would be helpful. Here in the States, we have the option of studying other languages in public school and I had so many years of Spanish and was frustrated with myself that I couldn’t communicate better. I think it’s nice to be able to communicate with the people because it enriches your experience there. When people see that you try and that you’re committed to learn about them and their culture, your experience really goes up a few notches and you almost feel like part of the family.
Thandiwe’s love affair with Puerto Plata runs very deep and holds a special place in her heart. You will be sure to see Thandiwe on a beach near you in Puerto Plata this coming October when she returns to celebrate her friend’s birthday.