Carlos has an official license from Grand Paradise Playa Dorada Puerto Plata resort, which allows him to sell tours on the beach pertaining to Grand Paradise Playa Dorada. more...
Carlos has an official license from Grand Paradise Playa Dorada Puerto Plata resort, which allows him to sell tours on the beach pertaining to Grand Paradise Playa Dorada.
Only a few hours after checking in, I set my first foot on the beach of Hotel Grand Paradise Playa Dorada in Puerto Plata. About the same time my toes touch the light brown sand, a friendly smiling Latino asks me where I am coming from, which puts me on “possible annoying salesperson” alert. “ I am not on vacation here, I am working”, is my first response”. Oh, he says, “ Does this mean that you are not interested in a fun Tour or Excursion?” I explain that I have my own network of contacts but have no problem listening to let him explain what he exactly is doing here and what excursions he has on offer.
It turns out that Carlos has an official license from the hotel, which allows him to sell tours on the beach pertaining to Grand Paradise Playa Dorada. I decide to keep the conversation going by telling him that I am an editor of DebbiesDominicanTravel.com and that I am on a 3-week road trip through the Dominican Republic to write articles. Carlos smile becomes even wider, he knows all about Debbie’s since many people recommended him in their reviews. I sense he feels kind of proud to meet me, ”Debbie”, in real life!
I have met a good number of hucksters, hustlers and other uncomfortably slick individuals during my travels but Carlos comes across as a solid guy. Age 35, living with his mother in a small village in the Cibao province, religious and proud to work hard to earn an honest living. Carlos strongly believes that all the good that has come to him stems from his confidence in life.
Well… time for a drink! The white wine also has been watered down in this hotel, so I walk up to the beach bar “Sinners” and get myself a cerveza Presidente and a Cuba Libre, being a good disguise for an alcoholic refreshment, for my new friend who tells me that he can not accept this “free” drink which has been ordered using my all-inclusive bracelet. I understand that directly and put the drink in the warm sand in front of me.
Various tourist pass by to thank Carlos, for his services and to tell him about their experiences. Professionalism and that important personal touch allows Carlos to compete with the Sunwing or TUI people who have their space and audience guaranteed. After all, they have desks in the lobby and can provide their clients with a large amount of printed documentation. On the other hand, Carlos, who offers all the excursions available in the area, has the advantage of being able to offer the same excursions at an often much better price.
According to Carlos, tourism in Puerto Plata does not get the government attention and funding needed to truly reach its full potential. The majority of available resources are being channeled to Punta Cana. Carlos: “How about addressing the growing problem with prostitution in Sosua? This is a accelerating problem that soon will prove to be completely out of control and will affect peoples decision on what destination to select for their vacation!” In the next hour or so, it becomes obvious where Carlos is coming from. I am impressed with this humble man who makes his living on the beach. He made me catch myself on prejudicial behavior, even after all those years moving amidst and dealing with the locals.
The next day after work I find Carlos sitting on the beach, staring at the sea. As it turns out he is doing his best accepting the fact that he did not sell one excursion that day. Tourism hits low season from April until the middle of June. Carlos will need some good fortune to carry him over this economical bleak 10-week period.
Carlos, who proves that not all beach vendors are the same, has won my support. You won’t have to find him when you will stay at the Grand Paradise Puerto Plata resort, he will find you!
Tel: (829) 696-9756
update Oct 2010
Carlos is now selling his trips at the mall rig