Category Archives: Dominican Republic

Museo del Ron y la Caña

Last post in the Dominican Republic. It took me about 8 months to write about all the places I visited there. I’m getting close to finishing all the destinations within the half year mark that I want, so I’m improving and will try to continue to do so. Now onto the last destination…

Museo del Ron y la Caña, located in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republican
(Museum of Rum and Sugar Cane)

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Museo del Ron y la Caña is open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm, and admission is free. The museum is very similar to other store-museums, but one major difference is that this museum is by guided tour only. (Good thing some other people toured when my buddy and I did as guided tours aren’t quite our thing.) The museum is located a bit farther away from the main tourist destinations in the Zona Colonial, but it is still easily accessible by foot. If you are not in the Zona Colonial, a taxi is the best option to getting there. There are some other places within walking distance of the Museum of Rum and Sugar Cane that make it worth a visit.

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Museo del Ron y la Caña is housed inside a 16th century restored building and contains a variety of exhibits on rum and sugar cane, two of the country’s most exported items. The museum is rather small, there’s about 3 rooms altogether (but there’s plenty to see). There are a variety of displays and photographs explaining the importance of the two products to the Dominican Republican’s economy. In addition, the museum has numerous artifacts from the history of rum making and for the harvesting of sugar canes. There’s also a bar inside where our guide gave us some samples of their rum varieties, and if you like the rum, you can get a cup right there or a bottle to go at the store. (I felt that I should’ve bought some rum since I got a free tour and free samples, but I held out and just left cause I really didn’t want a bottle of rum.)

My travel buddy and I took about 15 minutes in the museum. The time is dependent on your guide and your group, as some guides may give more details and some people will have more questions than others. (Our guide was quiet, I’m not sure if I caught everything that was said as I spent most of the time snapping pictures, and our group didn’t have questions, so the tour was short.) The guided tour was decent, but I think it would’ve been better if the tours were a little longer so that people can learn a bit more about the displays, or if they let visitors explore on their own and had set times for rum sampling (it might attract more people with the second option as people like to sample alcoholic beverages.)  Anyone interested in rum making or tasting will want to take a visit to the museum, as will those interested in history. The museum is not a family trip destination, but is definitely for a group of friends (of drinking age) to visit. Museo del Ron y la Caña is worth a to visit, you’ll leave with a bit more knowledge on rum and sugarcane, and maybe even a bottle of rum.

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Museo Mundo de Ambar

Next to last post about the Dominican Republic. I had plans to finish all my Dominican Republic related posts by June, but I’m one post shy of that, which is okay. I don’t often stick to my plans, so an almost is good enough for now. Continuing on…

Museo Mundo de Ambar, located in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
(Amber World Museum)

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Museo Mundo de Ambar is open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm, and Sunday from 9am to 1pm. Admission to the museum is 50RD, which roughly equates to 1-2USD depending on exchange rate. The setup of the Amber World museum is very similar to other store-museums in the Dominican Republic in that visitors have to pass through the store first in order to see the museum. The difference between Amber World museum and other store-museums is that this one actually generates an income (the 50RD admission), thus there are more exhibits, which are more thorough, then other store-museums. Although a bit further away from the main tourist area in the Zona Colonial, it is still easily accessible via walking if you are in the area. Another way to reach the museum is by taxi (especially if you are outside of the Zona Colonial).

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Amber World museum is located on the second floor of a two story building; there’s a small store on the first floor. The first exhibit gives visitors an overview on amber; its origins and mythologies, how it is formed, what its properties are and what it is used for. Amber is a fossilized tree resin that started as a soft, sticky substance that hardened into a solid material over time. Since amber started as a soft resin, sometimes insects and/or plants get trapped in the amber. The Baltic region contains the largest known deposit of amber, hence most amber originates from the area and is known as Baltic amber. In the Sala Hormigas aka Ant room, visitors can see a variety of amber with ants trapped inside.

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In the Sala Dominicana, visitors can learn about Dominican amber. Dominican amber originates from the Dominican Republic, and comes in a variety of colors, the most distinctive being a blue color. In addition to the learning about the characteristics of Dominican amber, visitors can learn about what types of remains are typically found inside. Fake amber is very commonplace, and the museum has a small display on how to distinguish between real and fake amber using salt water; real amber will float, whereas the fakes will sink. The next exhibit is “Siete Cañadas”, which has a variety of amber on display from the Yanigua formation. (The Yanigua formation is a geological formation in the Dominican Republic.)

My travel buddy and I spent about 30 minutes at the museum. The museum isn’t that big, but there is plenty of information, so I feel I could have probably spent a total of 1 hour maximum if I took more time to read and look more thoroughly. As always, others will spend more or less time depending on their interest. (We visited around the same time as a tour group did, and they spent about 5 minutes only, so the time frame will vary per person. On a side note, I don’t like tour groups much, they don’t give enough time to see anything properly, too much to do, too much rushing.) Anyone interested in learning about amber will have a blast, as will anyone who has interest in natural history or want to learn more about the Dominican Republic. Take a visit, maybe buy some amber and learn all about amber at the Museo Mundo de Ambar.

Faro a Colón

Happy Summer! I’m a couple days late welcoming the official start of summer, but that’s okay. I have lots of plans for this summer, but we’ll have to see if those plans come to fruition. In the meantime, continuing in the Dominican Republic…

Faro a Colón, located in Santo Domingo Este, Dominican Republic
(Columbus Lighthouse)

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Faro a Colón is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9am to 5pm. Admission is 100 RD, which is roughly 2-4USD depending on exchange rate. Faro a Colón is located outside of the Zona Colonial, so the best way to get there is via taxi. (Try JC Taxi, I used them while in the Dominican Republic, and they were quite reliable and affordable.) It’s also possible to walk, but the area is not as safe as the Zona Colonial, so use caution if you do decide to. (The security guards around the Faro a Colón actually came up to me and warned me to keep my camera in my bag, which made me worry. Hence, I have no other pictures of the outside of the building, I was scared to walk around outside, thinking I might get mugged.) Faro a Colón is located within the Parque Mirador del Este, and on the opposite end of Los Tres Ojos, so visitors can see both attractions on the same day.

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Faro a Colón, also known as Columbus Lighthouse, is a museum/mausoleum that is shaped like a cross and is multiple stories tall, however only the first floor is accessible to visitors. Although the building is called a lighthouse, it is not an actual lighthouse that is used as a beacon. But the Columbus lighthouse does have a lighting system that when lit can be seen as far as Puerto Rico (however, it’s been noted that the building hasn’t been lit for a while; google search for some night images of the Faro a Colón, it’s quite pretty). In the middle of the building is a chapel that is said to contain the bones of Columbus (the Cathedral of Seville also claims to have the remains, so the mystery remains, where is Columbus’s final resting place). The museum contains a few smaller exhibits containing religious paintings, pictures and other items related to religion. In addition, there are a few exhibits that consists of some model ships, maps and books.

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The museum’s main exhibit is a collection of artifacts from various countries around the world. I’m estimating that at least 40 countries are represented (not exactly sure of the number as I didn’t count); there is a display for every country in the Americas, and various European and Asian countries. All the descriptions were in Spanish (so not really helpful for me), however there is flag of the country by each display, so even if you can’t read anything, you can still figure out the country if you know its flag.

My travel buddy and I spent approximately 45 minutes at Faro a Colón. As is always the case, other visitors may take more or less time depending on their interest levels. Faro a Colón would probably benefit from having an audio guide as there is a lot to see and not too many descriptions, thus the audio guide will allow visitors to have a better idea of what they are viewing. Faro a Colón’s architecture is quite interesting, so anyone interested in architecture may want to take a look, as would anyone interested in history and Columbus. Take a visit to Faro a Colón and determine if it’s actually Columbus’s final resting place and learn about the countries of the world all in one place.

Los Tres Ojos

I had hoped to get this post out last week, however that didn’t happen, but I did have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, I actually went somewhere. Whenever I go away, I get this itch to go away again immediately, to continue seeing new things, but at last, it’s not feasible yet, maybe some day. For now, let’s go back to the Dominican Republic to see…

Los Tres Ojos, located in Santo Domingo Este, Dominican Republic
(The Three Eyes National Park)

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Los Tres Ojos is open daily from 9am to 5pm, and admission to the park is 100RD, which is about $2-4USD. The park is meant to be self-guided, but there are tour guides available inside the park who can lead you around. (The guides are quite expensive, I believe it was $20 to lead a group of people, so my buddy and I didn’t bother and just walked around by ourselves.) Los Tres Ojos is located in the Mirador del Este park, which is quite far from the Zona Colonial, so the best way to get there is by taxi. (As mentioned in a few of the previous posts, JC Taxi is a good service to try if you need to get around in the Dominican Republic.) It is also possible to walk there if you want to, but I advise against it as the park is located in an area where safety maybe an issue. Los Tres Ojos is located close to some other sites, so it’s possible to check those out while in the area.

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Los Tres Ojos is a complex of limestone caves that consist of a three interior lakes, which is where the name Three Eyes originated. Visitors have to descend a long and steep staircase right by the park’s entrance to reach the first lake and from there, various paths lead to the other two lakes. The first lake is the Lago de Afuzre. The lake is very stunning with it’s clear turquoise blue water; I don’t think I’ve seen such clean and blue water in person before (except at aquariums, in nature, it’s the first time). Traveling along the paths that contain some more stairs (not as steep), visitors can take in the lush green scenery as they make their way to the second lake, Lago Las Dumas. The second lake is equally as remarkable as the first, but significantly smaller. The last lake is the Lago La Nevera. At this lake, visitors can take a small manually powered raft to a fourth lake. (More on this fourth lake in a bit. My buddy and I skipped it as we weren’t quite sure how to get on and if there was a fee or not. I’m pretty sure I missed some good stuff, maybe next time.)

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The fourth lake, Lago Los Zaramagullones, is completely open-air, hence it is not considered part of the three eyes. If you opt not to take the raft to the fourth lake (or even if you plan to), there are lookout points in the park to see the fourth lake. The path to get to the lookout point isn’t too far, about a 10 minute walk from the park entrance, nor strenuous, just walking on a flat path and maybe a couple of steps. The walk is quite refreshing, everywhere you look is green and clear skies, nothing to remind you that you are still in a metropolitan area. The fourth lake is surrounded by plants and trees, and there appears to be a small look out right by the lake (maybe this is where the raft brings visitors, but I didn’t see anyone when I was at there). If you don’t want to walk back to the park entrance to exit, there is a small path near the fourth lake that you can follow that leads to the lot in front of the park. (If you decide to use this way, just look for a path near the fourth lake that’s not marked and go. The last photo shows the opening of the path.)

My buddy and I were at the park for 1 hour, which is a pretty decent amount of time. As usual, other visitors can take more or less time depending on how fast they walk, their interest levels, or whether they had a guide. (Others will probably spend more time as I skipped the raft, maybe an additional half hour.) The park can be completely explored without a guide, there are enough signs around to let you know which lake you are viewing and where the exit is. (The guides are a bit pushy, so be adamant if you don’t want their services.) The Threes Eyes is a great place to take anybody, kids and adults alike will enjoy the great outdoors, just be prepared to climb plenty of stairs and remember that it will be humid in the caves due to all the water. Los Tres Ojos is a feast for the eyes, so definitely go for a visit and be amazed by the lush green vegetation and crystal clear blue waters.

Museo Nacional de Historia Natural

Busy, busy, as usual. I might be able to bang out another post next week since it will most likely be a short one, but a three day weekend is coming up and I’m going away, so not sure how everything will work out. For now, let’s continue in the Dominican Republic…

Museo Nacional de Historia Natural, located in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
(National Museum of Natural History)

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The Museo Nacional de Historia Natural is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 5pm, and on holidays from 9am to 4pm. Admission is 50 RD which is roughly $1-2USD. The museum also has a planetarium, admission is 30 RD. (I didn’t go to the planetarium, so not sure what’s in there. The museum appears to be really lax about tickets; there was no one at the admission desk when we arrived, so we didn’t end up paying until we were about to leave. There’s a security guard by the entrance/exit, so don’t think you can skip out.) The museum is located in the Plaza de la Cultura, which is a ways from the Zona Colonial, where I was staying. A taxi ride from the Zona Colonial to the museum is around 300RD and walking from the Zona Colonial to the Plaza de la Cultura takes about 40 minutes. (As mentioned in the previous post, a good taxi service you can try is JC Taxi, and if you decide to walk, try not to walk by yourself, bring a buddy to be safe.) There a variety of other sites to see at the Plaza de la Cultura, so check them out to make it a day trip.

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A word before I go into details, everything  in the museum is in Spanish only, and since my Spanish is non-existent, anything that is written after this is based on what I saw on display, my photos and whatever I can scrounge from the web. (So there may be inaccuracies, please forgive me.) The museum contains 5 floors that contains 6 halls and several separate exhibits. The  main entrance is located on the second floor, which is where my travel buddy and I started. The first hall I came across is Sala de La Tierra, which has a variety of displays focusing on the planet Earth, such as plate tectonics and land formation. There even appears to a theory on how the island of Hispaniola was formed. The Sala de Rocas y Minerales and Exhibicion de los Fósiles are separate exhibitions that are most likely embedded in the Sala de La Tierra (not positive as there was no obvious signs for these two). Sala del Universo has a variety of images taken of space objects and contains facts about said images. Finishing out the second floor is a separate exhibit, Exhibicion Prof. Eugenio de Jesús Marcano, which is about Eugenio de Jesus Marcano, a Dominican researcher who made significant contributions to the natural sciences, and his work with focuses on geology and paleontology.

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The third floor is comprised of one big hall known as the Sala de Ecología Prof. Julio Cicero. The hall contains a variety of dioramas depicting the ecosystems and biodiversity of the island. The dioramas are rather intricate and show the various landscapes of the island.  Also on display was a temporary exhibit, Reptiles de la Hispaniola, showing photos of reptiles native to the island. (Currently still on display.)

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The fourth floor contains two halls, the Sala de Biogeografía and Sala de las Aves Annabelle Stockton de Dod.  In Sala de Biogeografía, visitors can learn about animals, such as bears, penguins, and mooses, that aren’t typically seen in the Dominican Republic, but are natives to the various continents. The Sala de las Aves has displays of birds that are common to the island and the Caribbeans in general. In addition to the above, there are two separate exhibits, Exhibicion de Animales Vivos and Exhibicion de los Insectos. As the names suggest, one exhibit contains live animals, and the other is about insects, respectively. The fifth floor contains one exhibit on telescopes, Exhibicion de Telescopios.

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On the first floor is Sala de los Gigantes Marinos Amaury Villalba, which contains two whale skeletons in addition to some displays of marine mammals. The whale skeletons are quite impressive, a must see at the museum. For anyone interested, the exterior of the back of the museum has a dinosaur mural (which I now realize is the only dinosaur display that the museum has).

My travel buddy and I spent a little less than an hour at the museum. Other visitors may take more or less time depending on their interest level. (For a five floor museum with plenty  to see, I feel I should’ve taken more time, but the language barrier made in depth viewing not viable for me.) I think the museum needs a little extra something to make it more accessible to foreign visitors, maybe some pamphlets in other languages so visitors have a better idea of what the museum has to offer. Anyone interested in natural history will want to take a visit, and it may be a good family day idea as natural history museums tend to appeal to families with children. The Museo Nacional de Historia Natural is a great place to learn about the natural history of the island of Hispaniola, so go for a visit if you’re in the area.

Museo del Hombre Dominicano

 It seems that I really do struggle when I have to post more than every 2 weeks cause I have all these other ambitions and things I need to do. Thus I’m probably going to stick with my current posting schedule and have sporadic bonus posts here and there when I have time. Anyways, onto this post…

Museo del Hombre Dominicano, located in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
(Museum of the Dominican Man)

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The Museum of the Dominican Man is open Tuesday thru Sunday from 10 am to 5pm. Admission to the museum is 100RD, which roughly translates to 2-4USD depending on exchange rates, and includes an audio guide in several languages. (Be sure to ask for the audio guide if you don’t get one, as they don’t appear to give it out automatically; perhaps they don’t get as many foreign tourists as they do school groups. Also ask for the audio if you can’t read Spanish since all the written descriptions are in Spanish.) The museum is located outside of the Zona Colonial, so it’s accessible by taxi and on foot. A taxi ride from the Zona Colonial to the museum costs 300RD, which is about 7-8USD.  (Get the hotel to call you a taxi as the ones found on the streets are unsafe, and make sure to arrange for a return or you’ll end up having to walk back, like we did. If you don’t want to go through the hotel, a taxi service that we used and found pleasant is JC Taxi. They have an hourly rate of 12 USD, so if you plan to go to more than one place per day, it’s pretty decent. Not sure if they charge for just one way trips, but check them out if you need a good taxi service in the Dominican Republic.)  If you decide to walk, it takes approximately 40 minutes to reach the museum from the Zona Colonial. Make sure not to walk by yourself as there aren’t many people walking on the streets (and seems a bit sketchy at times), so it’s better to get lost with someone then by yourself. The museum is located in the Plaza de la Cultura, which contains other museums, the national theater and the national library, so visitors can make it a day trip idea.

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The museum building has four floors, but the exhibits are on the first, third and fourth floors (not really sure what’s on the second floor). There is a general route to follow to make the most sense of all the exhibits as indicated by the audio guide, but being me, I still managed to see the museum backwards. (I actually started with the last audio segment, which reminds me to return the audio guide.) Starting on the fourth floor, the first exhibit I saw was on Carnival, which is a Christian festive season that occurs before Lent. The exhibit covers the Dominican Carnival, which is celebrated throughout February, culminating around February 27th, due to it being the Dominican National Independence day. A variety of Dominican Carnival costumes and masks, which tend to be flashy and elaborate, are on display. There is also a small exhibit about Gagá, which is a religious ritual that has roots in the Haitian Vodou religion. In the same room, visitors can take a gander of a Dominican farmer’s house.

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Continuing on the fourth floor in the following room, there is an exhibit on the Christian religion in the Dominican Republic. In the same room, there is a brief overview of the Dominican life style in the 20th century. Following this, there is an exhibit on the African influence in the Dominican Republic with artifacts and information relating to religion, punishment, and the slave trade and routes. Rounding out the fourth floor are exhibits on Spanish and Taino influence on the island. (The whole floor would’ve made a lot more sense if I went order instead of going backwards, but I got the gist of it,I think.)

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The third floor is connected to the fourth floor via a ramp (so for those who don’t like stairs, start on the third floor and use the ramp.) The third floor exhibits are also organized chronologically, and makes the most sense if you go in order (which I managed.) The first room covers the pre-Columbian era of the island, which is the period of time before the appearance of Europeans in the Americas. Visitors can learn about paleo-indians, meso-indians and neo-indians, and their ways of life. In addition, one can view a variety of stone tools and other artifacts belonging to these early peoples. Following, there is small section on ceramics. There are a variety of artifacts on display, even one on the evolution of ceramics.

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The next exhibit focuses on the Taino, who were the indigenous people of the island prior to the arrival of Columbus. There are a variety of artifacts and dioramas highlighting their lifestyle. One particular focus of the exhibit was on Cohoba, which is a Taino ritual in which participants inhaled the grounded seeds of the cojóbana tree through their noses, which  produces a psychedelic effect, in order to communicate with their gods.

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In the final room of the third floor, there are a variety of objects from the native peoples on display. Starting near the entrance of the room, visitors can see a variety of jewelry made from coral, tooth, stone and conch shells. Further inside are a collection of flints, hatchets, stone spearheads, and ceremonial daggers. Finishing the third floor are various stone idols that were used during rituals as representations of their deities.

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The first floor of the museum contains several stone obelisks and some examples of rock art. There was an area behind the admission desk that I failed to check out, so I’m not sure what is there. The museum has an elevator for those who don’t want to take the stairs.

My travel buddy and I spent about 1 hour at the museum, which is about how long the audio guide lasted. Other visitors can spend more or less time depending on their interest levels and/or ability to read Spanish. Considering that the museum contains three floors of exhibits, I feel that the audio guide could be a bit more detailed so that visitors will have a better understanding of the displays, but others might feel its too lengthy if it goes any longer. Any one interested in history will enjoy this museum; the museum is not really suitable for younger kids, more appropriate for middle school-aged children and beyond as I did notice several groups of school kids at the museum. The Museum of the Dominican Man is a little further from the Colonial Zone and other sites, but it’s a good place to go and learn about the Dominican Republic culture and lifestyle, so venture outside and check it out.

ChocoMuseo Santo Domingo

Somehow I managed to get another post out in a week, although it is extremely short. I was debating whether to do a write up on it or not as the place is more pseudo-museum than an actual museum, but I figured, why not, I’ll just post it in between the regular schedule. Without further ado…

ChocoMuseo Santo Domingo, located in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

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The ChocoMuseo Santo Domingo is open daily from 10am to 7pm and admission to the museum is free. The ChocoMuseo is located in the Colonial Zone in Santo Domingo, and is easily accessible via walking if you are already in the area. If you are elsewhere, take a taxi to the Colonial Zone. The ChocoMuseo is a combination store-museum (Santo Domingo seems to have several of them), which means that the store generates most of the income, and the museum is a fun bonus (as opposed to traditional museums that generate income through admission and the museum store is another asset). The store-museum also offers a 2 hour chocolate making workshop where visitors can make their own chocolate bar from cacao beans; the workshop is 25USD.

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The museum is essentially a one room space with postings on the walls and some items on display. Visitors can learn about the history of chocolate; I learned that cacao was used to make beverages by the Mayans and the Aztecs, but chocolate wasn’t introduced to Europe until the 16th century. In addition, the museum gives an overview of how a chocolate bar is made from cacao beans, and how the various types of chocolate are made by blending varying amounts of chocolate liquor with cocoa butter.

On a side note, my travel buddy and I did the chocolate workshop. It was pretty fun (although a bit awkward as we were the only two, and we aren’t the friendliest people on Earth) to roast the cacao beans and see how it becomes a bar of chocolate. We also sampled some chocolate beverages and also a cacao tea that was delicious.

The museum took me about 10 minutes to go through, and I think most other visitors will take about the same amount of time, as the museum is really tiny. One maybe able to stretch it out if they read everything written out, but it really shouldn’t take more then 30 minutes. The chocolate workshop is a fun activity to do on a rainy day, and will be enjoyed more by adults than children as there is plenty of waiting time involved. The ChocoMuseo Santo Domingo presents some fun chocolate facts to visitors, so visit if you have a chance, drop by, and check out all the chocolate and cacao products.