CONSTANZA is a drop-dead gorgeous, circular valley set deep in the mountains at an altitude of 1300m. Populated and farmed since the Taino era, it was created millennia ago by a crashing meteor; as you first pass over the lip of the crater you’ll be stunned by the fertile, flat valley – irrigated by thousands of sprinklers and hemmed in on all sides by jagged peaks. Constanza had virtually no contact with the outside world until the end of the nineteenth century, when a decent dirt road was finally blazed to it; later development occurred when Trujillo trucked in 200 Japanese families in the 1950s, to introduce their farming methods to the valley. All manner of non-tropical crops are grown on the farms today – strawberries, raspberries, apples, garlic and roses; less tantalizing is the military base in town, a permanent presence since Castro attempted a Communist takeover here in 1959.

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