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Bonao, cultural city of Dominican Republic

Bonao, cultural city of Dominican Republic

The famous Dominican writer Cesar Sanchez says that Bonao, as a mestizo town, is the result of many cultures that have gave this land their wealth as a region and their warmth as a community. Main town of Monsignor Nouel, province that carries the name of a former archbishop of Santo Domingo and former president of the country, acquires its name by the power of the Taino cacique that ran the territorial constituency before the arrival of the Spaniards to the island.

To reach Bonao, we start from Santo Domingo and travel a distance of seventy kilometers on the Juan Pablo Duarte highway. At the road, there are some breathtaking views of farmlands, fertile rice paddies, lush conifers and native vegetation. It is highly recommended to stop at the traditional inns as Turey or Jacaranda, established in this highway, to enjoy a wide range of cuisine, which highlights the pork and goat stew, candies (made of milk, coconut, guava and orange), cheeses, especially leaf, and different types of local breads, cookies and biscuits.

Locals say Bonao has in its Indian ancestry the tan color of their women and gentility of their men. Therefore, in its rhythms and festivals, Africa plays a major role. Carnival, the most important festival in Bonao, use that moment to showcase its history and its true roots, macaraos which are  suits made of bright colors fabrics, and their masks with animal figures, made of satin fabric and sequins. They represent the mix and symbolism among African cults and the Catholic tradition which, incidentally, is exacerbated every June 13th, when their patron saint celebrations pay homage to San Antonio de Padua.

As a cultural city, Bonao has been one of the forerunners centers in the country of the arts, literature and music, and is an expression that is found in the contribution of different clubs like Juan Pablo Duarte, Papia Hernandez, Ramon Matias Mella, or Universal. They grouped intellectuals and local organizations such as Juventud Ardiente, which were very important in the 70s of the twentieth century, mainly in theater, folk dance or poetry.

The radio station La Voz del Yuna was established in 1942 as a country reference, marking the beginning of Dominican television. Many bands used to work at the same, including a female orchestra, Angelita. Turned into a museum, a collection of pieces, objects and photographs related to its history its being kept today within its walls. Place of numerous visits to be an important attraction for tourists to learn more about Dominican artists such as Casandra Damiron, Luis Rivera or Mateo Joseito.

Valentin Gallery, Palace of Fine Arts and Bonao’s Cultural Square, represent the cultural and artistic manifestation of greater relevance to the province, where the historical legacy of the artist Candido Bido is preserved. Emblematic also for its originality is the House-Museum Cristian Tiburcio. Very similar to the House-Museum Gaudi space, for its ceramic mosaic technique that was developed in every detail of the house and has been conceived after an effort of more than two decades of work. Open to creativity where many young artists gather to exhibit their works and make different performances outdoor space. Part of this group is formed by Santeros, a group of artists who seek to spread the technique of carving wooden saints, traditional in Dominican Republic.

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TEXT: Elena Sanchez; IMAGES: Suresh