Christmas Sure is Different in the Tropics!!

Christmas is coming up!!

For most of our readers I imagine that means a bit of snow, some colder weather, non-stop christmas carols, tv commercials speaking directly to your children, and shopping malls decked out in their season’s best, jingliest, twinkliest, most ho-ho-hornamentation.

And you’re running around like a chicken with your head chopped off dreading the opening of each advent window because it’s one day closer to you not having crossed off all the names on your list.

It’s not really like that here.

santa

Pretty much everything is more chill on the beach, but Christmas is by far the biggest change for me.

Sure, there are Christmas lights around some of the palm trees, and if you go in the big chain stores, they’re playing Christmas music, but mostly, it’s business as usual.

overall

Businesses are busy making sure they look good for the upcoming tourist season, I can’t deny that, but even if we wanted to stress out over what we’re going to get uncle Tom… our choices are pretty limited. No shopping malls here, barely a proper grocery store.

We’ve got better, we have the Made in Cabarete Christmas Bazaar.

sign

This is a warm place where all of the local artisanal entrepreneurs have joined forces and group under one roof, the lovely Emerald Beach Club roof, for an evening in friendly chit-chat, and display of their crafts.

Originally starting with just a few ladies with nowhere else to go, we’ve been happy to see the bazaar grow every month.

I’m not much of a shopper so it’s strange to hear myself say that I’m happy that it’s growing, but I think it’s really very good for the locals and tourists alike, the ones that do enjoy shopping.

One of the things that bothered me the most while I was traveling the States was that none of the souvenirs I wanted to purchase were actually made there. Ironically, while I was in New Mexico i considered purchasing my mom a pair of moccasin, until I realized they were made, of all places, in the Dominican Republic. This continued while in Central America, and for the most part, a lot of the souvenirs here are also worthless trinkets outsourced from somewhere else.

So it’s a breath of fresh air for me to see a movement that’s bringing back the “everything local, everything hand made” artisanship that I know from my childhood and miss so much.

Let’s introduce you to some of these creative folk.

honeyco

You’ll remember Carolina and Spencer from The Honey Company from our visit to their honey farm a little while back.

honeybasket

They’re still here and buzzing along marvelously, now adding beeswax and honey based body products to their collection, which Carolina makes right at home of course.

sniff

Then we have Christina and her adoooorable children’s stuffed animals and toys, which she hand-lovingly makes individually herself under the brand her daughter dubbed J*Luli.

teddies

mobileThey’re so cute they make me want to have a kid just so I have the excuse to take one of those little creatures home. I fell in love with the top-heavy dinosaur that wouldn’t stay seated. I wish I could ship out of this country more easily, because I know a couple of kids that would hug these forever toys… well…. forever.

jluli

Sabrina and Mariano hand-craft intricate macrame jewelry with beaded, feathered, sea-shelled, and crystalized accents. You can get them for yourself in the form of bracelets, necklaces, hair ornaments, and barefoot sandals, among other creations, Their best sellers though are their unique beach collars for dogs and other pets (including horses!) which you’re sure to see while roaming the Cabarete beaches.

cocobeadsstand

Indeed the brand Coco Beads Cabarete was named after their beloved Dalmatian Coco who looked after them until he passed just before they launched their business, one year ago this month. Happy birthday Coco Beads! May you continue to prosper doing what you love!

cocobeads

Alita fashions teas and tinctures from organic & natural plants, herbs, and essential oils she sources globally, including locally, to help your overall health and well being, under the name Raiz Herbal Remedies.

teas

She is enrolled in a phytotherapy program with a Canadian school, learning about the magic of getting down to the root of the illness and listening to our symptoms instead of muffling them. That’s where the name “Raiz” (root) came from!

We got ourselves some detox tea, always helpful :)

rosewater

Maria makes organic (and friggin’ delicious) chocolate, from local ingredients, in her own kitchen. Her combinations are imaginative and unexpected, the ginger chocolate might be a little too much to handle for some, but I’m swooning.

chocolate

It’s hard to believe, but Maria disclosed to me that she actual barely eats chocolate now, the rich smell always lingering in her nostrils.

chocoballs

Mercedes has been making Argentinian Empanadas, but recently fell into and in love with sewing and lavender, and has combined the two into useful and pretty lavender bags for your closet. She still sells the empanadas, with the help of Stefan, who recently joined her in the kitchen.

moneyxchange

empenadasHaving worked in photography and film, and busy on the sets, she’s pleasantly yet incredibly surprised to find herself working with her hands and selling crafts.

stefanandmercedes

So far, you’ll probably have noticed that although LOCAL, these vendors are technically expats, all having found themselves, mostly accidentally, calling Cabarete home (and I urge you to ask each about their stories if you’re ever in town, because they’re pretty inspiring and interesting) but what makes this bazaar really special for me is its potential to bring the artisanship and its benefits back to the truly local community.

sunflowers

Indeed, new faces this month demonstrate just what I’m talking about. A local family from Jamoa who create home decorations and macrame crafts heard about the bazaar and joined in this month to expand their sales, see what the Cabarete area had to offer them, and mingle with other creative minds.

macrame

Kana Rapai does the community good by focusing on recycling and giving locals creative jobs devising trinkets out of trash, but not trashy trinkets. Letty, the creative Manager, emphasizes that her brand keeps it real and doesn’t send children into the landfills, unlike other foundations she knows of worldwide, but rather that she sources and oversee the process from beginning to end making sure everything is equitable, sustainable, and socially conscious.

dontbetrashy

She confides in me that it’s really more about educating people on trash and recycling, that it isn’t the few dollars she makes off the brand that keep her going.

Pearlkini  directly benefits the economy because Dominique contracts out a lot of her sewing needs to local professionals. She is originally from Quebec City, and studied fashion design in Montreal, until she left the field for a while, only to find herself here and falling into the field again starting a bikini line. She has big plans and we wish her the best because the suits are hot!

bikinis

DR Naturals are local handmade soaps sold by Michaela, made by her mom at their local and organic farm, which creates jobs for all sorts of locals.

soaps

But the bazaar isn’t all about shopping, it’s also about eating and socializing and listening  to great local music. Indeed, a special part of this get-together is the selection of local music droning in the background, another creative boost for the local community, providing an outlet for local musicians not necessarily into the classic bachata and merengue to play for an attentive crowd.

fingerlickingood

This month we were blessed with the melodies of Aaron, Van, Helena, Christina’s little girl Julia, Carlota & Santiago; make sure to check out their individual sites.

aaron

And of course let’s not forget the tastes!!

deepi

Deepi, who’s pretty fresh to the area, has given us the privilege of having access to genuine indian food right here in the tropics, and showcases her samosas (for free might I add) at the Bazaar.

nacho

I’ll repeat that Mercedes sells her empanadas and Maria her chocolate. There’s also a hot sauce stand. The Emerald Beach Club‘s bar is open for you to get your drink on as you browse and socialize too.

knt

Other fresh faces this month included Knotty designs (LOOoove the play on words,) Tigi’s Jewelry,  Carlota, Hum*ble designs, and more!

tigi

For a full list of all the vendors, check out the bazaar’s official Facebook page.

Now I’m sad to say that the pre-christmas bazaar has already passed, and if you’re in town and you wanted to check it out pre-holidays, you’re out of luck because it was last Saturday, the 7th.

If you’re in town until after the holidays, good for you because the bazaar happens regardless of Xmas every first saturday of the month.

However if we’ve sparked your interest, do not despair, all of these vendors do sell outside of the bazaar, so make sure to contact them!!

You can also browse the Chocolate Bar, across from the Belgium Bakery, which permanently houses some of the brands, as well as All You Need Is Love clothing stores, next to Onno’s and Uno Mas which houses a few others.

Good luck contracting a third hand to wrap all those presents!!

We leave you with a bunch more pictures:

tatoo bust shell humble cacao-nibs 4ever necklaces salsamacho soapstand slurp alitayhoneyco fascinated-kid jewelry strafish kntteam smilingface chichat

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