Cruise ships come to visit the Dominican Republic at a port in Samaná. I think the name of the village at the port is Santa Bárbara de Samaná, but most of the stuff written about it talk as if the name is just Samaná. The port is a lovely horseshoe of sand with a promenade along it (photos 2, 4 and 5)
We went on a Samaná Highlights tour, which took us past La Churcha a few blocks back from the waterfront. Bob was the only one quick enough to get a picture of La Churcha as we sped by.
Fondest memory: La Churcha was actually the First African Wesleyan Methodist Church of Samaná. Much of Samana was destroyed by fire in 1946 and La Churcha is one of the few historical remnants. English missionary Narcissus Miller, who introduced Methodist teachings to the peninsula, shipped it here from England in 1823. Around this same time, a large group of American runaway slaves were resettled in Samana by two women abolitionists. As many as 6,000 ex-slaves were brought here and it is thought that some helped rebuild the prefabricated, tin-roofed structure The slaves' heritage is evident today in such local names as Jones, Williams and Green and the sizable number of English-speaking residents. When Trujillo was in power, he made it illegal to teach children any language but Spanish. Santa Bárbara and Duarte maintains what African-American culture is left in Samaná and La Churcha continues to hold services in English.
La Churcha's name now is the Dominican Evangelical Church and the congregations of La Churcha and the African Methodist Episcopalian Church often work together.
One of the main activities of this area is whale watching. In the winter the whales come down to calve and hang around until the calf gets big enough to go north. We have done this here and in Alaska and it is very interesting.
But what many people miss is the whale museum which has a lot of information on the local ecology - not just the whales, but sea turtles, birds and local shellfish.
The museum has mostly information in Spanish.
Fondest memory: Whale watching