The water is indigo, pale green or azurro in the morning. Stretches of reef appear like ink blotches at midday. The water turns deep blue in the afternoon then pink and red at night. There are three small islands called The Ballenas off Playa Coson that people say look like a whale breaching. Beyond that is the shadow of a larger island.


House music plays twenty hours a day on the beach. Remixes, minimal techno, drum and bass. The Europeans park their SUVs on the dirt road behind the beach and lay out all day. They cover themselves in oil de coco that they buy in recycled beer bottles. They eat crepes and ceviche and drink caipirinhas. Then they lie out again.


Almost every foreigner we meet owns a home or a timeshare. Whoever doesn’t is here to look for one. The value of the Euro makes the cost of an apartment in Las Terrenas equivalent to an expensive car at home. A cook and a cleaning lady go for fifty dollars a week. The Europeans are euphoric, frenzied by the high standard of living. They talk about real estate incessantly, about how the new highway and airport affected land prices. During the day, the men drive ATVs bare-chested down Juan Pablo Duarte Road. At night their wives throw catered dinner parties with Dominican servers passing around rum punch and hors d’oeuvres. It’s like they are reliving the imperialist life they’d always heard about but never enjoyed.