I remember now why I never post. It is because I am almost incapable of writing anything readable that isn’t sarcastic, rude, snarky, or uninformed. That is probably a character issue.
As Lindsay mentioned in an earlier post, we will be returning here next year. The only reason we are coming back is to give those of you who didn’t visit but would like to a chance. Dominican Republic is a very poor country with a quite a few rich people living in it. Parts of it are absolutely 3rd world while mere blocks away folks are living in the lap of luxury. So, in preparation for your visit I will cover some of the things that may shock you upon arrival.
1. Driving: It has been well chronicled here but the driving is crazy. I was appalled at first, entertained next, intrigued after that, and then finally sucked in. I may be the worst of anybody in the country now. We don’t drive much because we don’t own a car but when we do drive, we drive fast. When I say we, I of course mean I. Mrs. V hasn’t driven at all here. There are two reasons for this. A). She doesn’t need to because we don’t go places without each other. B). She would have to pry my hands off of the steering wheel and physically restrain me from the drivers seat. I would have to be dead or dying for her to be driving because I am slightly addicted to it (but always relieved when I don’t have to do it anymore). So when you visit, be prepared for the crazy drivers and try to remember these three things: put your seatbelt on, turn off all your awareness receptors, and try to ignore the maniacal laughter coming from the cockpit.
2. Omnipresent noise: For any of you who have attempted to talk to us on Skype, you kind of already know. It is loud all the time. There are several reasons for this. Here are some. 1. Cars and motorcycles here don’t have
traditional exhaust systems. 2. Advertisers pay specially designed cars to drive around and blast their message to the masses from their hood mounted, concert volume megaphones. 3. Impromptu parades are the norm, not the exception. 4. Nobody cares that it is loud all the time.
Number 4 is the one that really bothered us when we first came here. If someone’s music is too loud in the US you ask them to turn it down. If they don’t comply they will end up with a citation and fine. Here, nobody cares. They don’t have the same rules about private space or disturbing the peace. We have had many a nights sleep disturbed by riotous parties next door.
Which leads me to a side note. The traditional Dominican music is how shall we say????? Ahcky? Roody Poo? Not good at all? Far be it from me to tell someone their opinion is wrong, but when it comes to music, Dominican’s opinions are wrong. I am sure you have heard it before though. There are three main types here. Meringue, Bachata, and Salsa. They all kind of sound the same to us and the real distinguishing characteristic is the beat. This music is popular here because it is very easy to dance to and dancing is done a lot here. Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night, the colmados (think 7-11 just way more numerous and all locally owned) are jam packed with people all dancing to this music. Not just the older crowd loves it though. Students in the High School all know how to dance to it. The closest thing I can think of in the US to it is maybe Polka, possibly Swing. Maybe you are thinking “hey, I like swing.” Actually, you only kind of like Swing. The dresses, the dance moves, the hair. Those are the things you like, not the actual music. Plus, imagine all swing, all the time for the rest of you life. I
confronted asked some of the students about this unusual music and most of them defended it, kind of. They defended it with all the enthusiasm of a father defending the career choice of an Ice Dancing son. “It’s not that bad” was the typical response. I will be the first to admit though that I am a little jealous.
Which leads me to another side note. Whenever I see people dancing a particular dance, my first reaction is “I am going to learn that.” I envision myself walking confidently out onto the dance floor with my chin held high to snickers and finger pointing from the crowd. A hush falls over the crowd as the music starts. The dance is a waltz and I have been practicing. I float around the dance floor for 5 memorizing minutes after which the crowd (completely enraptured) breaks into thunderous applause. I bow slightly, nod to the piano player (he was in on it all along) and exit nonchalantly while the young men clap me on the back and all the women swoon (it turns out that a waltz is a couples dance which is what makes my solo waltz all the more amazing).
That is my vision but the reality is that after about 8 seconds of sheepishly shuffling around in front of the mirror in my underpants before school I abandon the idea and write it off as something I never wanted to do in the first place. Lindsay is numb to this I think.
Anyway, it is loud here.
I don’t have a third point that you could read in less than 45 minutes so I will conclude my post here. You know your post is too long when you don’t have the will to go over it again to proofread. I plan on maybe a final installment of my series but I will probably sit down at the computer with all the best intentions and end up reading a Detroit Tigers blog or watching videos of bears catching salmon in their mouths.