Born in Brooklyn, NY of Puerto Rican parents, Damaly was influenced from a young age by her Father to travel. Presently, she has launched her newly renovated site Backpacking the Caribbean, an online cultural travel hub that connects the traveler to an authentic experience.
Following are 7 questions we asked Damaly to get to know her better:
Where did your love for travel come from?
My love for travel came from my father. My parents, who migrated to the United States from Puerto Rico, always remained loyal to their roots by speaking the language, cooking its cuisine, and cultivating its traditions. As soon as I was old enough to fly, my father made it his mission to take me to Puerto Rico every year so I can learn about my roots.
What is your favorite country/spot/region you have visited?
The region I am drawn to the most is the Caribbean. It doesn’t matter if I am in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, or St. Croix. There is a warm and uninhibited spirit that is felt throughout the region that has been incomparable to any other place I’ve visited. For me, it’s home.
One of my favorite islands in the Caribbean is Haiti. When I went in 2012, two years after the disastrous 2010 earthquake, the country felt hopeful. The energy was magnetic, the people were kind and generous and the culture was alive and prosperous. The economic and social issues in the country is part of their story. Unfortunately, we perceive these issues to be their whole story.
When did you get the idea of Backpacking the Caribbean?
I got the idea of Backpacking the Caribbean while traveling throughout the region for almost four months in the Summer of 2012. Taking several buses to get to the next town and learning about the music, food, and culture not many travelers delve into, I realized there was a void in the travel and how places are being perceived. So six months after I returned, I launched BTC’s first website.
Where do you see BTC in the future?
That’s a really good question. I have planned ahead and although things can always change, I definitely see BTC on television in the future.
Do you have any advice for other Latinas who have never traveled before?
Hmm…I do. Sometimes it’s a bit hard thinking about it on the spot. I’m trying to think about the advice I’ve given other people. I would say, ask yourself why you haven’t traveled first and if there is no reason, if there is nothing holding you back, then think about where you’ve always wanted to go and go do it.
If there IS a reason (or excuse), analyze that reason. Question it. Is it important enough or valid enough to let it stop me from enjoying my life and being exposed to new places and experiences?
What would you say to Latinas who have traveled a bit and want to travel more, but don’t feel like they have the money to spend on traveling?
Put yourself on a budget plan. Nothing can be done unless you really want to get it done. Start really questioning where you are spending your money and how you can get better at saving. Here is an article I wrote for Hip Latina on saving money for travel.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself that has nothing to do with travel or BTC.
I never know what to say when I’m asked this! Okay, I think I got one. I used to be a mentor/mentee director for an all girls mentorship program.
Check out Travel Latina featured in two pieces written by Damaly for Hip Latina: 1) Women Travelers: Documenting our Stories, and 2) Latina #Travel Series 1: A discussion with Alexandra Tracy of Travel Latina.