Bayahíbe is unique location. It has the charm of a fishing village and spectacular beaches, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Dominican province of La Altagracia.
This village was founded in 1874 by a Puerto Rican family, and has developed a broad-based tourism industry based around the sea, the community’s livelihood. Boat trips, scuba-diving, typical dishes and handmade crafts are the usual activities at Bayahíbe.
Freddy Alberto Berroa is one of the area’s craftsmen. He handcarves wooden replicas of traditional sea vessels, small sailboats in brilliant colors which he sells to tourists.
The sea has always been present in his life. His father made boats to carry tourists around. Before he started with this craftwork, he used to captain one of these vessels, until seven years ago, when his age forced him to find another way to provide for his family. So, he opted to turn his woodcarving hobby into a new way of making a living.
Freddy spends between 10 and 12 hours carving each boat. It is laborious, as everything is done by hand: cutting the wood, putting the pieces together, sanding and then painting.
Freddy spends between 10 and 12 hours carving each boat. It is laborious, everything is done by hand: cutting the wood, putting the pieces together, sanding and painting. He also makes the sails by hand, decorating them with paint that he mixes personally.
One of his eight children works with him making necklaces, bracelets and other items with natural seeds, snail shells and pectolite, a blue stone perfect for jewelry.
Freddy has been a client of Banco Adopem, BBVA Microfinance Foundation’s institution in the Dominican Republic, since 2010. And thanks to the three loans he has received, he has improved his business.
He still has many more boats to carve and a lot of sails to paint … because Bayahíbe will continue to fascinate tourists, who do not want to miss out on the experience of watching the dawn come up on a beach with turquoise-blue waters.