ESPAILLAT.

The most famous town in this province is Moca, with its beautiful church, fire station, and other buildings in Neoclassic and Victorian styles. The beach areas along the Atlantic coast are virtually undeveloped; in fact, the villagers in Gaspar Hernández are among the poorest in the country.

The province is known for its vast coffee and cacao (chocolate) plantations, handmade rocking chairs (the artisanry centers are at José Contreras and Villa Trina) , carved gourds (at Higuerito), and a popular “mirador” (lookout) at La Cumbre, the top of the mountain pass east of Moca.

From here, the “Ruta Turistica” toward Sosua (Highway 21) is one of the most incredible roads you could ever hope to drive upon, with mountain-peak vistas, lush valleys, and people smiling at your from in front of their clean, colorful little houses who look pure Taíno—and, indeed, as recent mitochondrial DNA tests are demonstrating, this is one of the regions where the Taínos ran away to live when they escaped from the Spanish-dominated parts of the island.