Las Terrenas beaches reopen as crews still clean up flood trash

LAS TERRENAS, Dominican Republic.- Services to tourists and visitors of the resorts at Playa Bonita, in Las Terrenas and were restored by the Tourism Ministry, whose crews continue the cleanup work several days after damages caused by the rivers Caño Seco, La Jagua and


Las Terrenas swelled their banks.

The crews of the Tourism Ministry’s Infrastructure Dept. (CEIZTUR) hauled off debris and garbage which had washedup on the shore by the floodwaters in the stretch between Punta Popi and Cayo Ballena, whose beaches are now reopened to the public and the swimmers immediately visited the area.
Mayor José Alexis Martinez said once the damage occurred he contacted CEIZTUR, which sent the crews and support needed to clear the beaches. “The biggest floods were caused by the swelled Caño Seco River, whose waters rose suddenly like never before.


JetBlue in Talks to Add Flights from U.S. to Dominican Republic

Negotiations with JetBlue Airways to establish direct flights from the U.S. to the Dominican Republic’s Samana peninsula are “very advanced,” said Fabeth Martinez Fernandez, executive director of Samana’s hotel association. “Nothing is concrete yet, [but] we are hoping to announce news of an agreement soon,” he said during a press conference at the Dominican Annual Travel Exchange (DATE) conference in Punta Cana.

JetBlue is expected to operate the direct flights from New York’s JFK airport to Juan Bosch International Airport in Samana’s El Catey province when an agreement is finalized.

Announcing Destination 73: Samaná!

We’re excited to announce plans to expand to our sixth destination in the Dominican Republic and 73rd BlueCity with the addition of Samaná, subject to receipt of government approval.

Effective November 14, 2012, we plan to launch twice weekly flights between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and El Catey International Airport (AZS), on Wednesdays and Saturdays – the only service between the United States and this emerging tourist destination. Flights are on sale now for as low as $169 each way today through July 13 at for travel between November 14 and February 9, 2013.

Samaná is a fabulous vacation destination for the adventure seeker, a couple’s retreat, or an escape for the entire family. With beautiful mountains, pristine beaches, rain forest, and a variety of amenities, Samaná can satisfy every vacation-goers appetite.

Proposed schedule between JFK and AZS:

Depart – Arrive Depart – Arrive
8:25 a.m. – 1:05 p.m. 2:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
– Flights operate on Wednesdays and Saturdays effective November 14, 2012-

Las Terrenas International School

I am very pleased to announce that Mariposa Azul American School is expanding and changing its name to:

Las Terrenas International School
and Mariposa Azul Preschool


Las Terrenas International School now has a website!  (It is still under construction so please let us know if you see any errors or have any suggestions for improvement)

We’re looking forwards to an exciting year ahead as the school grows from one class to three, all taught by professional, qualified, native English speaking teachers, and we add a Specialist in the creative arts (music, drama, art).

Classes will be limited to 12 students (10 in preschool) to provide for the highest quality teaching and individual attention.  Openings are still currently available, and can be reserved with a deposit of 1/2 the inscription fee.  Contact Annette Snyder at this e-mail or by calling (809) 496 0245 or (503) 915 2417 (US).


Quality education in English and Spanish

Our goal will be excellence in education with:
High Academic standards and
Innovative teaching that encourages creativity, imagination and
independent and critical thinking

Offerings for 2012 – 2013 will be:

**Preschool (3 and 4 year olds)
**Pre-Primary/Kindergarten (5 and 6 year olds)
**1st and 2nd Grades (6, 7 and 8 year olds)

Preschool and Pre-Primary/Kindergarten will both be completely bilingual in English and Spanish. 1st/2nd grades will be taught in English with some Spanish components and activities.

Class sizes will remain small (12 students maximum) so that all students receive individualized attention.

I am very excited to have found extremely qualified, experienced classroom teachers, each with a Masters degree in Education. At the crucial first grade level our teacher is a Reading Specialist who has trained other teachers in effectively teaching for emerging literacy. We will also have a Music/Art/Drama Creativity Specialist that will work with all of the classes.

The announcement attached will be coming out soon in the Info Diario, and there should be an announcement this week in the LT-7.

For registration or questions please contact Annette at 809 496 0245 or

Thank you for forwarding on the information to anyone who may be interested,


Posted in Living. 1 Comment »

Coastal Living – Secret Samana

Las TerrenasThe road to paradise might be fraught with bumps, but this was beyond ridiculous. They weren’t just bumps lining the dirt road to The Peninsula House inn, but giant pot-holes. Seriously giant. The type that threatened to swallow up the entire right side of my poor little Chevy rental (and had me wishing I’d sprung for the SUV). Like an Olympic skier tackling moguls, I’d been twisting and turning for the past hour or so. Truth be told, up until that point I had been quite proud of myself (and my Chevy). I arrived Dominican Republic with all the tools a modern nomad could hope for – a GPS, Google Maps on my iPhone, and a printout of maps ready in case all else should fail. Technology always isn’t that much help in the country’s Samaná Peninsula, a mountainous stretch of land that juts into the Atlantic like a finger from Hispaniola’s northeast end. And that was absolutely fine.

Over the past week, I’d logged countless hours behind the wheel getting to know the rugged, lush patch of land, which is ringed by some of the most beautiful powder-white beaches I’d ever seen and lacks the mass development that plagues other parts of the DR. I took rough­paved switch-backs like a local, accelerated up clìffside roads that seemed to ascend for days, played chicken with motorbikes on the narrow coastal lanes, and maneuvered along the few proper streets that crisscross the penìnsu1a’s tiny towns during “rush hour,” when no one abides by any logical traffic laws. But it was the journey to The Peninsula House that almost did me in. Yet finally, with my insides more than a little shaken, rattled, and rolled, I passed through the wrought iron gates and climbed the steep, curving driveway to what is undoubtedly one of the finest small hotels in these Caribbean parts.
It wasn’t such a long way for owners Cary Guy and Marie-Claude Thiebauit from the South of France to the hilltop former coconut plantation where they opened this six-room inn in 2008. After Cary sold his chic little guesthouse in Provence, he teamed up with Marie-Claude with the vision to open a similarly oriented venture somewhere in Europe. That was, until the two heard about a tiny corner of the Dominican Republic that was one of the most exceptionally beautiful places in the country; a place where land could still be bought for a reasonable amount, and where -strangely enough- a small community of European expats had settled. So it was there that the duo decided to build a two-story Victorian­sty1e plantation home, gingerbread trim and all. Then they kitted out the interiors with a cosmopolitan mix of treasures: Surrounding an inner courtyard downstairs, the library, billiards rooms, and salons are decorated Turkish carpets and French settees; upstairs, you’ll find rooms filled with wardrobes made from hand­carved doors from India, antique nesting tables from France, and framed Tibetan prayer book pages and Balinese puppets hanging on walls.

El Limon“It’s pretty easy to see what captivated us,” Cary tells me, gesturing to the surrounding landscape from the house’s wraparound veranda. An endless stretch of green cascades down before us until it ends at the ocean, which sparkles in the distance. A 10-minute drive away (potholes notwithstanding) is the beachfront town of Las Terrenas, the peninsula’s cultural hub, where transplants to Samaná have enthusiastically mixed with resident Dominicans. They’ve kept the walls down and embraced the amalgamation of different cultures, and together they’ve opened up restaurants, tiny hotels, and boutiques. Now, Las Terrenas offers a heady mix of contrasts that is equal parts raw (stray dogs wandering the streets and buildings covered in a fine layer of grit) and refined (high-design hotels and Pueblo de los Pescadores, a group of former fisher-man’s homes along the waterfront that has been turned into a collection of restaurants and bars). “We are betting that the area will turn into a mini, untamed St. Bart’s,” explains Cary. “That it could become the Caribbean’s next great place.” To those who knew Samaná several years ago, Cary and Marie­Claude’s gamble may have seemed risky. While the peninsula has almost a glut of natural beauty-remote beaches, forest waterfalls, coconut trees, and a blue­blue bay regarded as among the world’s best places to see humpback whales, which come to breed here-it was still very much off the beaten tourist path. In fact, it was downright inaccessible to those who weren’t determined. Samana is only 60 or so miles from the capital of Santo Domingo as the crow flies, but until recently the far reaches of the Cordillera Septentrional mountain range had blocked any straight shot to the destination, which meant that reaching Las Terrenas from the capital required driving almost six hours. All that’s changed now, thanks to a new road that bisects the mountain range and cuts the total driving time from Santo Domingo down to just around two hours.

After checking out of The Peninsula House, I head down to Las Terrenas and to Balcones del Atlantico, the area’s first internationally managed hotel, which opened just across the way from a lovely stretch of sand on the town’s fringes last year. Whereas The Peninsula House is small, Balcones is of the big-beach-resort variety. Both are gunning for the same well-heeled clients, and Balcones isn’t scared of displaying its luxe chops. Spread out across 100 acres on a half-mile of beach are the 86 two- and three-bedroom villas (the property operates as a condo hotel) surrounded by manicured tropical gardens and pools with swim-up bars. But here’s how Balcones differs from just any resort: When you approach the grounds, you immediately notice the lack of a large wall separating the resort from the surroundings. In fact, the property feels very much like it has long been a part of the quaint Las Terrenas waterfront, which is characterized by low-slung buildings abutting a two-lane road that separates the town from the beach. Rooms also carry an area-inspired charm, as Dominican designer Patricia Reid put an emphasis on locally made items, from pieces of art on walls (painted wooden fish, shell-crusted bowls, colorful oars) to impossibly delicate curtains, which were crafted in the surrounding communities. Even the beachfront restaurant, Porto, is firmly grounded in Samaná, with a fresh menu of grilied fish, ceviche, and other delicacies from the sea.

And then there’s Ba1cones’s rigorous eco-ethos: The property was constructed using local materials, and the staff members work with a number of community organizations on projects such as coral reef regenesis. wanted something that was the absolute antithesis of what you find in other parts of the Dominican Republic, something that’s rooted in the place that it’s in,” says Dominican developer Máximo Bisonó, the property’s owner.

Balcones Del atlanticoBalcones may be the area’s first international luxury hotel development, but it’s certainly not going to be the last. (Most notably, 2014 will see Auberge Hotels open the all-bungalow resort Casa Tropicalia on a stretch of beach-front along Samaná Bay.) Still, by and large, most of the projects here are being built to take advantage of the setting, not to intrude upon it. From the turquoise ­bordered shores of Balcones to the bright, verdant grounds of The Peninsula House, it only takes one look to discover what makes this part of the globe so special: the cove beaches with soft, golden sand and the lush interior full of waterfalls, mountains, and tropical rain forests. And the roads – well, we’ll just say they’re a work in progress. But I’ll still take Samaná, bumps and all.

Tax time pushes some Americans to take a hike

By Atossa Araxia Abrahamian | Reuters – Mon, Apr 16, 2012 6:00 PM EDT

A year ago, in Action Comics, Superman declared plans to renounce his U.S. citizenship.

Genette Eysselinck renounced her U.S. citizenship to become Belgian. (Credit: Reuters/Pascal Parrot)”‘Truth, justice, and the American way’ – it’s not enough anymore,” the comic book superhero said, after both the Iranian and American governments criticized him for joining a peaceful anti-government protest in Tehran.

Last year, almost 1,800 people followed Superman’s lead, renouncing their U.S. citizenship or handing in their Green Cards. That’s a record number since the Internal Revenue Service began publishing a list of those who renounced in 1998. It’s also almost eight times more than the number of citizens who renounced in 2008, and more than the total for 2007, 2008 and 2009 combined.

But not everyone’s motivations are as lofty as Superman’s. Many say they parted ways with America for tax reasons.

The United States is one of the only countries to tax its citizens on income earned while they’re living abroad. And just as Americans stateside must file tax returns each April – this year, the deadline is Tuesday – an estimated 6.3 million U.S. citizens living abroad brace for what they describe as an even tougher process of reporting their income and foreign accounts to the IRS. For them, the deadline is June.

The National Taxpayer Advocate’s Office, part of the IRS, released a report in December that details the difficulties of filing taxes from overseas. It cites heavy paperwork, a lack of online filing options and a dearth of local and foreign-language resources.

For those wishing to legally escape the filing requirements, the only way is to formally renounce their U.S. citizenship. Last year, IRS records show that at least 1,788 people did, and that’s likely an underestimate. The IRS publishes in the Federal Register the names of those who give up their citizenship, and some who renounced say they haven’t seen their name on the list yet.

The State Department said records it keeps differ from those published by the IRS. They indicate that renunciations have remained steady, at about 1,100 each year, said an official.

The decision by the IRS to publish the names is referred to by lawyers as “name and shame.” That’s because those who renounce are seen as willing to give up their citizenship primarily for financial reasons.

There’s also an “exit tax” for the very rich who choose to leave. During the last 25 years, a number of millionaires and billionaires have renounced their citizenship. Among them: Ted Arison, the late founder of Carnival Cruises, and Michael Dingman, a former Ford Motor Co. director.

But those of more modest means renounce, too. They say leaving America is about more than money; it’s about privacy and red tape.


On April 7, 2011, Peter Dunn raised his right hand before a U.S. consular officer in Toronto and swore that he understood the consequences of giving up his U.S. citizenship. Dunn, a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen who has lived outside the United States since 1986, says he renounced because he felt American citizenship had become more of a liability than a privilege.

[Related: Top 10 Tax-Procrastinating Cities]

As an American, Dunn had to file tax returns and report all of his bank accounts – even joint accounts and his Canadian retirement fund. If he didn’t, he would be breaking U.S. law and could face penalties of up to $100,000 or 50 percent of his undeclared accounts, whichever is larger. Dunn says he was tired of tracking IRS policy changes, and he had no intention of returning to the United States. Renouncing his citizenship, as he puts it, was “a no-brainer.”

“If it was just me then it would be one thing,” says Dunn, a part-time investor who worried that having to share information with the IRS would deter future business partners – and upset his wife, who is Canadian. “Disclosing joint accounts I hold with my wife and anyone I ever want to do business with – that’s just too much. My wife’s account is none of their business.”

Dunn, who blogs about expatriation, takes issue with being characterized as a tax evader. He says the taxes he pays in Canada are higher than what he would pay in the United States, and he says he had always complied with the IRS before renouncing. But, Dunn says, the IRS approach to enforcing compliance is misguided. “It’s making life difficult for a lot of people,” he says. “It’s driving us away.”


Dunn is referring to two filing requirements that affect Americans abroad: the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts – which has been around since 1970 but now carries penalties for noncompliance – and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, passed in 2010 with the aim of reducing offshore tax evasion.

The first regulation requires all Americans, including those living abroad, with at least $10,000 in overseas bank accounts, to file a supplementary form disclosing all of their foreign accounts. That includes any accounts in which the U.S. citizen has a financial interest. That could include a joint account with a spouse or child, accounts for corporations in which the American owns more than 50 percent of the value of shares of stock, or any trust or estate that benefits the U.S. citizen.

[Related: Tax Day Freebies 2012]

The tax compliance act – the newer law – asks foreign financial institutions such as banks, hedge funds, and private equity funds to provide the IRS with information on U.S. clients.

The United States and five European Union countries recently announced their intent to allow institutions to report the information through their own governments, rather than directly to the IRS. Institutions that do not comply will be subject to a 30 percent withholding tax on certain U.S.-sourced payments and proceeds of property sales beginning in the 2013 tax year – for instance, dividends on investments in U.S. companies.

Some expatriates say they were unaware of the first regulation for years and even decades. In 2008, the IRS received only 218,840 such filings. American nationality law grants citizenship to almost everyone born in the United States or born abroad to American parents, regardless of how much time they’ve spent in the United States. Many may not even know the extent of their U.S. ties.

In 2004, the stakes for noncompliance rose. Failure to file meant potential fines and criminal charges. Americans abroad can be punished for noncompliance even if they owed no income tax – and IRS data show that most of them don’t owe money.

Income up to $95,100 isn’t taxed under a rule called the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. In 2009, the income cap was $91,400, and 88 percent of all taxpayers claiming the foreign earned income exclusion owed nothing. Since 2008, the IRS has offered several voluntary-disclosure grace periods during which expatriates can file back taxes without facing criminal charges – but with the possibility of incurring penalties.

Marylouise Serrato, head of American Citizens Abroad, a nonprofit organization based in Geneva, says that many members feel scared about reporting requirements they did not know existed. Their disenchantment, she says, is pushing some to renounce.

“Americans abroad are terrified. We’ve had people pay tens of thousands of dollars in fines. We’ve had people pay huge amounts of back taxes,” she says. “Up to this point, we never heard of anyone renouncing, or if they did, they didn’t talk about it,” says Serrato, who says her group does not advocate renunciation.

“Now,” she says, “we’re seeing a lot of people speak openly about it and come to us for information.”

Congress is taking note. “While I fully support measures that reduce fraud and address offshore havens, the U.S. should not have policies that place undue burdens on legitimate Americans abroad,” says Representative Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and the chair of the Congressional Americans Abroad Caucus. Maloney says she has taken the matter to the Department of the Treasury, which oversees the IRS.


Lawyers report that banking is a big reason why people renounce. “I hear about banking problems again and again and again,” says Phil Hodgen, an attorney who has been helping Americans expatriate since 2008. The new reporting rules, he says, pose “a huge administrative burden. It’s made Americans too expensive to keep.”

Francisca N. Mordi, vice president and senior tax counsel at the American Bankers Association, says she has received a number of calls from Americans in Europe complaining about banks closing their accounts. “They’re going to drop Americans like hot potatoes,” Mordi says. “The foreign banks are upset enough about the regulations that they’re saying they just won’t keep American customers, and it’s giving (Americans living abroad) a lot of sleepless nights.”

Taxpayer complaints sometimes make their way to Nina Olson, the U.S. taxpayer advocate for the IRS, who addressed some of the international tax issues in a December report.

“The complexity of international tax law, combined with the administrative burden placed on these taxpayers, creates an environment where taxpayers who are trying their best to comply simply cannot,” the report reads. “For some, this means paying more U.S. tax than is legally required, while others may be subject to steep civil and criminal penalties. For some U.S taxpayers abroad, the tax requirements are so confusing and the compliance burden so great that they give up their U.S. citizenship.”

In the same report, the IRS responded to the criticism, stating that the penalties for failing to report foreign accounts issued in its guidelines are maximums, not set amounts. It said the agency will not fine filers if the lapse is due to a “reasonable cause.” The IRS also acknowledged the need for more public awareness, and it detailed its efforts to inform Americans overseas through fact sheets, a telephone help line and Twitter.

The IRS did not respond to requests for comment.


Around the world, American women’s clubs – known for promoting American culture overseas through Fourth of July celebrations and Thanksgiving dinners – are growing empathetic toward those who renounce.

The American Women’s Club in Dusseldorf, for instance, now links to renunciation information on its Website. The Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas has opposed new IRS rules, in part because the rules were pushing members to give up their citizenship. “The candidates are not tax-evaders or un-patriots,” reads the organization’s last annual report.

In Europe, American women say they feel pressure to renounce even from their husbands.

“American women married to non-Americans are only just now finding out that they have to disclose years and years of income and accounts,” says Lucy Stensland Laederich, a leader of the women’s club who lives in Bordeaux, France.

Laederich has been acting as the group’s liaison with politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., and plans to attend a meeting to discuss expatriate tax issues with Maloney and Treasury Department officials on Tuesday.

“When they decide to come clean and report everything,” she says, “they have to go ask their husbands for all of their bank information, retirement funds, and investment accounts, everything.”

Some of their husbands, Laederich says, refuse to hand over information to the IRS. That leaves the women in difficult predicaments.

“Your options are to ignore the IRS and stick your head in the sand; take your name off of all the accounts and live in a completely cash economy; divorce; or renounce U.S. citizenship,” Laederich says. “We’ve seen all of these things happen.”


Genette Eysselinck, a friend of Laederich’s, renounced early this year. Her husband, a European Union civil servant, saw no good reason to share his account information with the IRS, she says. And after considering all her options, Eysselinck decided that renouncing was the best path.

“It created a lot of tensions around here,” she says. “Divorce seemed a little extreme, so I asked myself, ‘What am I gaining as an American?’ And the cons outweighed the pros.”

Eysselinck was born in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and says she grew up on military bases all over the world. Her father, she says, was an Air Force pilot. Eysselinck has lived abroad for decades and no longer has any close connections in the United States.

She spent her final months as an American collecting paperwork and filing tax returns from the past five years, even though she says she owed nothing. Her last act as a citizen was to swear before an American flag that she renounced all ties with the United States. She called the process “gut wrenching.”

“I grew up in a military family where patriotic feeling was very strong” Eysselinck says. “I’m amazed at how terrible I felt renouncing. But it was the only way to get them off my back. It’s very distressing and time consuming to keep up with all the paperwork. But if it’s this bad when I’m 64, how bad will it be when I’m 74?”

(Reporting By Atossa Araxia Abrahamian; editing by Blake Morrison and Michael Williams)

Magic Sun Pill

Now you can get your fifteen minutes of sun and natural vitamin D every
day without worrying about skin damage:

“The ability of Haematoccous pluvialis to protect itself from the
effects of intense ultraviolet radiation can actually help you avoid
sunburn. This is a result of the “singlet oxygen quenching” I discussed

Current research is showing that, if you take 2 mg of astaxanthin daily
for a month, it will be very difficult for you to get sunburned.”

To study the effects of ultraviolet radiation on free radical generation
and the role this plays in skin damage, Hanson employs a two-photon
laser fluorescence-imaging microscope. She images the skin at varying
depths after ultraviolet exposure, looking for fluorescent tags that
reveal the presence of free radicals. She also looks for resulting
damage in the skin cells.

Using the technique, Hanson found that the stratum corneum – the skin’s
main protective barrier against environmental assault – generated a
tremendous number of free radicals when exposed to ultraviolet light.
“These free radicals caused considerable damage to both the cytoplasm
and the lipid matrix,” she said. “The cytoplasm of the lower epidermis
was also dramatically damaged.”

While typical sunscreens offer no protection against free radical
damage, the addition of antioxidants could significantly reduce the
generation of free radicals.

“Astaxanthin also functions as an internal sunscreen. Poor nutrition,
not the sun, causes sunburns, by the way. In order to get sunburned, you
have to be exposed to excessive ultraviolet radiation and suffer from
extremely poor nutrition. But with Astaxanthin, you can have an internal
sunscreen that prevents your skin from burning even when exposed to
excessive ultraviolet radiation.

This is important, as sunlight is beneficial to human health. Every
human being needs to be exposed to natural sunlight on a regular basis;
otherwise, you will suffer from vitamin D deficiency diseases, such as
prostate cancer, breast cancer, mental depression, osteoporosis,
diabetes and so on. Most Americans are chronically deficient in vitamin
D, and partly because they’re wearing sunscreen and avoiding the sun
like the plague.

I experienced astaxanthin’s internal benefits functions myself, when I
was taking this product during my visit to Hawaii. I tend to use no
sunscreen whatsoever when I’m out in the sun, because, first of all, I
don’t believe that sun is damaging to you, and secondly, I know that
sunscreen contains a lot of dangerous toxic ingredients that do damage
you. Instead of sunscreen, I use high antioxidants in my nutrition to
protect me from excessive ultraviolet radiation, and since I’ve become a
healthy individual and relied on nutrition, I’ve never experienced a

Learn more: