PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic (Dec. 10, 2013)—I spent the past few days in Punta Cana during the 2013 Kumho Tire Dealer Meeting and had the opportunity to go around the city and immerse in the culture.
This trip was a lot of firsts for me. Not only was it my first time to a resort or to Punta Cana, it also was my first time outside of the U.S. Watching the customs agent stamp my passport, which was clearly a mundane task for him, filled me with excitement.
Kumho gave us the chance to go on a guided tour, with a hilarious tour guide named “Mimi,” around the city and I was wondering what kind of culture I would be able to take in.
On a personal level, I loved going through the Cueva Cayacoa cave, even though there were bats everywhere. I felt like I was in an Indiana Jones movie and thought they could swoop down on me at any moment, but luckily, they fluttered around the top of the cave and did not think twice about me. I did see about 300 bats come out of a hole in the cave and I was proud of myself for not screaming like a little girl.
We also ventured to a local farmer’s house where we got to see how to make organic chocolate and coffee and sampled local tropical fruit. We visited the sugar cane plantation and drank sugar cane juice and watched an expert roll a cigar very quickly and efficiency.
But something that stuck with me was that even on such an interesting trip, even in the streets and plantations of Punta Cana, what am I noticing, you ask? The tires.
The first tire that intrigued me was a tire planter. As you might remember, I took on the challenge of making tire planters in the summertime. One of my favorite things to do on Pinterest is to see how people are upcycling their used tires, so you can imagine my excitement when I spotted this tire planter outside a horse stable. I liked the simplicity of the design, but there was still a design technique.
Next up was the local school. Since it was Saturday, we did not get a chance to visit the school; however, we did get to drive by it. My eyes were instantly drawn to the playground. They had used old tires as part of the playground equipment for kids to jump on and around. I remember playing with my nieces and nephews at a local park by my house back in the States and the playground had the same type of thing. It was the same concept—upcycling tires to create fun for children in their play time.
Driving through different towns gave us an opportunity to see a lot of different shops. Mimi drove us past what he called the Dominican version of “Home Depot” when we passed a small automotive supply shop. We also passed a few tire shops, but we went by so fast that it was hard to take a quick snapshot of one.
Regardless, I learned that tires really are universal. I was really thankful to all the engineering and thought that goes into manufacturing tires when we were driving up and down the uneven dirt roads that Mimi called “a free massage” because you hit so many bumps on the road.
Seeing how a completely different part of the world was reusing their tires in the same way we do in the U.S. was interesting. The moral of this story is, tires are everywhere. If there was ever a doubt, which there was not, tires are important all around the world. It’s a good industry to be in.