Apparently, the Dominican Republic was once full of tree sap. Who knew? Today, this small island nation produces more than its fair share of amber, everyoneâ€™s favorite fossilized yellow goo that can capture tiny bugs full of dinosaur DNA that can be brought back to life and stomp around and eat everyone. Okay, that didnâ€™t really happen, but you know what I mean.
Amber is such a hit in the Dominican Republic that they have dedicated a whole museum to it in the colonial section of Santo Domingo. Although it is easy to suspect that the â€śmuseumâ€ť is nothing more than an excuse to make tourists walk through an amber-heavy gift shop, it is actually quite well-done and interesting, although if you actually stop and read all of the wall displays youâ€™ll be there forever and your brain will turn into mush. Itâ€™s better to just sort of wander through and look at the pretty pieces of amber from all over the world, with and without tiny bugs and dinosaur DNA.
There is an interesting section on how amber forms, and how to tell real amber from fakes. There is also a good display on how amber is â€śminedâ€ť in the Dominican Republic, a process that looks a lot like unhappy men down in muddy holes. If youâ€™ve always suspected but could never prove that the life of a Dominican amber miner sucks, hereâ€™s the proof you need. Then again, it might be a ploy to get you to spend more at the gift shop. And of course there is a gift shop and of course you canâ€™t get into or out of the museum without going through it. But what did you expect?
A trip to the museum is a pleasant and informative way to spend about 45 minutes. Itâ€™s a regular stop on most city tours.
Arz. MeriĂ±o 452 (near the corenr of Restauracion)
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
The World Amber Museum is easy to locate, being on a major street in the Zona Colonial.
Relative price: Budget
Phone: (809) 686 57 00
Fax: 688 11 42