Cabarete, Dominican Republic is a unique destination, and many interesting locals contribute to that sentiment. Villa Taina Hotel has been hosting guests in this sleepy fishing village turned exciting watersports mecca for more than 20 years. In that time, we have gotten to know many of these interesting people, and we just love sharing their stories. In this article, we will tell you about Israel, the flower boy.
When you visit Cabarete, you will find there are several different kinds of vendors roaming the beach. They wear blue shirts with numbers on them, and they sell everything from cigars and hats to jewelry and other trinkets. The hours are long, the sun is hot, the season is short, and there can be a lot of rejection involved. It doesn’t seem to be the most profitable business, but day in and day out these people show up to work with a smile. There are mixed feelings among tourists about what these vendors choose to do for a living. Some people absolutely love seeing these familiar faces every year when they visit Cabarete. While others see them as an interruption to a peaceful visit to the beach. We see them as good people trying to make a decent living.
And then there are “vendors” who don’t have blue shirts. They are the ones merely trying to get by. “Flower boys” like Israel fall under this category. Israel is 16 and lives at home with his mother and 4 brothers and sisters. He attends school during the day, and he plans to graduate next year. Israel spends his evenings doing what he can to help contribute to his family. The “job” he chooses is a kind one, and he goes about it with humility. Before Israel comes to the main beach in Cabarete, he picks a bag full of tropical flowers. When he arrives, he looks for an open opportunity at a restaurant to quietly place a flower next to the plate of the lady (or ladies) of the table. He never actually asks for money, and he doesn’t linger uncomfortably. He just hopes his gesture is received kindly and that someone will feel touched enough to offer a tip.
Israel has been at this for years now, but he is not the only flower boy in Cabarete. There are a few others, and sometimes they travel in groups. Whether they are working together or alone, they always carry themselves with the same demeanor – quiet, humble, and thankful for even one peso. Just consider it a service of convenience that is available if you ever need it. After all, isn’t it nice to end a sunset drink and dinner date with a hand-picked tropical flower for your loved one?