Tomas: Punta Cana is a trampoline town
In BOP faces we talk to local legends: the people of Punta Cana that make this place so special. We spoke to Tomas Chaverra, a Colombian native working as a videographer and photographer. Chatting to him and his partner Daniela, we got to know their lively minds, and life in Punta Cana.
When Tomas Chaverra (24) laidback and one dreadlock on the back of the back of his head, enters the Coffee Shop, he immediately begins to talk about his travels and life in Punta Cana. Until a woman walks in. It’s his partner Daniela Franco (20), another native Colombian and an energetic appearance with a deal of fun tattoos (including a speaker!). During the conversation we have with them, they seem to be fully in sync. Interwoven, almost. Touching each other’s leg, full seconds of loved up eye contact, a bit of shirt contact. It’s a lovely vibe to be around.
From Medellín to the Dominican Republic
Tomas and Daniella are both from Medellín, Colombia, but where he’s lived in the Dominican Republic from the age of 8, she’s only moved to Punta Cana two years ago. “I had to get used to Punta Cana,” she tells us. “In the beginning it was hard, because I was not used to saying goodbye. Here you meet someone and after a while the person leaves again. In Medellín, it was different, you grew up with each other,” explains Daniela on life in Punta Cana.
Tomas lived in La Romana, a smaller town than Punta Cana. “La Romana is a city that is frozen in time. When you meet someone working in a place and you come back 5 years later, the same person is still working at the same place. Life in Punta Cana is different. It is a trampoline place. Every 2 years you have different neighbors.”
Out of the bubble
At the age of 22, Tomas woke up one day and decided to change his life. He felt like he was living in a bubble, that he couldn’t breathe. “I started working at 14 years old. After I finished high school when I was 17, I taught skate board classes, worked in a gift shop for skate boards and worked as a guide on excursions in the weekends. At the age of 19 I started doing photography and publicity and took over the company that my parents started: Ensamble 7 Grupo Creativo. They were artists first, but then they decided to go into tourism.
When I was 22 and woke up that day, I realized I was living the life of a 30-year-old. I felt empty. My dream was to travel. So I took the only 1000 USD that was left in my account and bought plane tickets to Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico, and Colombia. I gave myself 2 months to make enough money for places to stay for my trip. I worked like crazy and I went for three months.”
Tomas & Daniela
During this trip, Tomas met Daniela.
“It was so crazy. Tomas actually knew my mom before he knew me!” Daniela says.
“I met her mom 3 years before, because she was driving the taxi of my uncle. I did not know she had a daughter,” adds Tomas.
Daniela: “We noticed we had the same taste in music, rock music, and went to a festival to
see the band Naked in a Coma (Colombian rock band from Cali). From that day we always spent time together. After 15 days Tomas had to go back, but he told me he did not want to go back without me. It was crazy! I had never left my country before that day. He asked my mom and I went with him.”
Going on a motorcycle adventure
In May 2017, Tomas and Daniela decided to go on another adventure together. This time it was a 7-month backpacking trip through Latin America. They covered Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Patagonia, and Chile. Day and night, they worked to save up for the trip. Filming corporate videos and doing photography for companies and brands. Initially, the plan was to backpack, but when Tomas saw a motorcycle in Medellín, their plans changed.
“I saw this motorcycle and I couldn’t sleep for 2 days. It was in my head all the time. In the end, I bought it. It was a Trial bike, a big motorcycle with a weight of 200 kilos. With us and equipment it weighed around 400 kilos.” Tomas says.
“When he had to take the bike he had to practice, because he hadn’t driven in a while,” Daniela adds.
“Because I do extreme sports (motocross, kitesurfing, longboarding, wakeboarding, BMX) my shoulders had been dislocated a few times and I had surgery on them. This surgery prevented me from riding a motorcycle for a while. And now I had to drive one again. So, I did what I could and practiced in my grandmother’s neighborhood in Medellín.”
And off they went on the motorcycle, seeing places like ICA in Peru, which is the only oasis in Latin America.
“It is so beautiful!” Daniela says.
Tomas takes out his laptop and points at a picture. We’re looking at a gorgeous valley with blue water in the middle and some buildings that surround the water. The rest is sand.
“This is it!” Daniela says.
“The glaciers in Patagonia were also great,” says Tomas.
“The Machu Picchu in Peru. The 7-colored mountain. All beautiful,” Daniela adds.
“On this trip I learned to say goodbye and appreciate the people we met along the way. I also realized that people who have less, are most willing to help you. We met so many nice people. Even an American guy named Nathan, who travelled with us on his own bike. We adopted him as our child,” laughs Daniela.
An unexpected turn of events
But Daniela did not finish the trip as planned. In Ecuador, a jeep suddenly smashes into them on the road.
“He just wiped us away as if we were nothing,” says Daniela, a bit shocked. “He stopped to check his jeep and drove away. He simply left us like trash. We were driving behind a truck and he was trying to pass it in a turn. When a car was coming from the opposite side he quickly turned back to the right where we were driving and hit us. I flew 30 meters through the air. It was horrible. I could
not stop crying.”
T: “I actually told her that it was the best landing I ever experienced, because I had been in a scooter accident before where I could not move my body for a few days.”
D: “We were so lucky. Part of our equipment was broken. It was like two hands caught us and placed us in the right position. But we had to continue. I was so afraid to get back on the bike.”
T: “I knew I had to get her back on the motorcycle as soon as possible, because otherwise she would not be able to continue, and she would not want to hop on again.”
D: “We rode to the border of Peru. In Peru, I was still in shock and I could not handle it. So, I told Tomas, I love you and I do not want to take this experience away from you, but I can’t continue. I got work in Chile in a hotel and Tomas continued by himself.”
T: “I almost died in Bolivia. I was by myself and got lost in the desert. My bike broke down in a sand storm. I was trying to find my way, but I did not have reception on my phone. I was lost. So, I took off the cloth that protected my face and started tearing it up and placing it on little trees, so I could remember where my bike and equipment were. I had to get to a road for help, but I could not find it and it was getting darker and darker. Luckily, in the end I found a road and saw someone who was able to help me and pick up my bike!”
The end of the trip
In the end, Tomas and Daniela met each other back in Colombia and travelled
back to Punta Cana together.
“I left my motorcycle with a motorcycle group in Paraguay. They will contact me if they sell it or do something else with it,” says Tomas.
D, laughing: “I do not know what was worse. My 5-day bus ride from Chile back to Colombia or sitting in the back of a motorcycle!”
T: “We’ve got another adventure lined up, though. Our next destination is backpacking in Asia for 3 months. Japan, Thailand, Indonesia and India.”
Daniela points at the sushi tattoo on her calf: “We love sushi! And we are going to learn
Japanese. But first, we have to save money.”
We hope these lovebirds have a wonderful adventure in Asia and enjoy life in Punta Cana. At Tomas’ Instagram, you can find many stunning photos of their trips together. But now, back to the essentials. What is their favorite spot in Punta Cana?
“Every sunrise. Sunrise at Tortuga Bay and sitting on the Mountain of Cabo San Rafael. These moments together are bliss.”
See more of Daniela and Tomas on Instagram and their life in Punta Cana.
Want to know more from people on life in Punta Cana? Read all about it here.