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I have arrived once again in the US😦. Hopefully I will find the dedication to continue this blog at least for a while longer because there are still many themes which I didn’t get enough time to write about while in the Dominican Republic. Currently I am sitting at my kitchen table with a cup of Philz coffee while listening to Prince Royce and reminiscing on how much I’m going to miss everything about Santo Domingo, especially my amazing friends which made the semester so special.

This is my best friend Angel who studies philosophy at INTEC and Bonó. It doesn’t feel weird to be home, but it does feel strange to go out and be in public. Sometimes I let slip words in Spanish and its been hard to adjust to thinking in English most of the time again. Right now I have a monster headache, most likely from jet lag and lack of sleep, so I will cut this post short. I promise however that I will come back on soon and update you on the rest of my trip through the north coast and my brief stay in a Dominican resort. There will be more more photos to come so stay posted. In the meantime, here’s whats playing on my ipod currently,

Vacation!

As some of you know, on sunday afternoon I turned in my very last paper of the semester. Which means as of yesterday I am on vacation!! To celebrate the end of obligation and hard work my friend Aaron and I are going on a week-long trip to the north coast of the country to explore all the beatiful places the north coast has to offer. I am currently writing to you from a cute little internet cafe in the coast town of Cabarete. Unfortunately since I did not bring my computer with me on this trip you will all have to wait for me to upload my lovely pictures (and I admit, I am very much behind on uploading due to an obscene load of reasearch projects and tests I had the past 3 weeks) till I get back home to the states most likely. For those of you who are friends with me on facebook you can check out a few of  the photos I uploaded from my trip to the Jardin Botanico in Santo Domingo.

A little bit about Cabarete:

Cabarete is the kite-surfing capital of the world as I am told. My dad recognized the name from his windsurfing days so I suppose its been on the map for quite some time now as a surf town. The town itself is tiny, and completely tourist orientated with hotels, bars and restaurants lining the main street and the beach. This is usually where Id post a photo to prove my point but for now you´ll just have to take my word for it. I would write more about the town itself but the computer is reminding me that I am almost out of internet time. So until next time!! Wish me luck🙂

A little perspective

Those of you who have ever lived or studied abroad will probably agree with me when I say that living and operating in another culture often times gives you a little perspective on your own culture. I have come to realize over the past couple of years that I’ve spent moving around a lot just how much the culture we were raised in defines who we are and the decisions we make. Growing up in the states there were a lot of things I took for granted, ways of life that I never really reflected on or thought of as US or even Bay Area “culture”. As an American traveling abroad it can be way too easy to sell the US to locals, just the fact that US citizens often have enough extra cash lying around to make a trip abroad, or the relative ease of which we can get a visa to visit just about any country (minus cuba, though even cuba’s not completely off-limits if your zealous enough) can be part of a traveling sales pitch that  you didn’t even realize you were preaching. It’s important when you travel to try to ditch the sales pitch and enjoy and learn about the culture you’re traveling in. Maybe some of the things you learn will be things you want to bring back home with you, and a little bit of perspective can be worth a lot more than a handful of tourist crap *ahem* sorry, crafts.

Some of the things I want to bring home with me from the DR:

1. Hora Dominicana (also known as Island time, Latin American time, Caribbean time, etc)

Dominicans have a different understanding of time than Americans. In the US, time=money, and time wasted is a sin. Meetings, classes, social events all start on time, and everyone expects that they will start on time, and therefore shows up on time. People tend to walk “with purpose” in the US, and if you’ve ever walked in New York it can be downright scary. In the DR people value time differently, its ok in some situations to show up late, and its ok to walk slowly to your destination, you’ll get there eventually. AND the most awful of awful things for Americans, its ok to not be doing something every second of the day, or to not appear to be doing something every second of the work day. In the work atmosphere, to an American, it might look like nobody is being productive or getting anything done while everyone gathers to gossip about whatever topic is on that day, but socializing is considered an important part of the work culture. People are also more flexible about time, they understand that things happen, and take them as they come without stressing too much about time “lost”. Time is never lost. That is a ridiculous notion.

2. Familia

Family is one of the most important things in Dominican culture, and is treated quite different than in the US. Families here are incredibly tight knit- most kids don’t leave their parents house until they get married. Upon meeting Ramon’s family, his mother was shocked to find out that I was living here alone (without my family) and that I had been living without my family most of the time for the past 4 years. “Don’t your parent’s miss you?” she asked (though what she really meant was “do your parents not love you enough to let you live in their house”) and I patiently explained that in US culture families tend to be a little more distant, that it is normal for extended families to live in different cities, states, or even countries. In the DR however, and in Ramons case, most extended families live within a stones throw of each other, and frequently spend most of their time together (Ramon goes to his grandma/aunt’s house to eat lunch everyday, a tradition he plans on keeping even after he moves out). Now, I’m not proposing that I should fly to my aunt in New Hampshire’s house to eat lunch everyday, but I do think that at the very least I should have more communication with my family on a regular basis.

3. Baile

Those of you who know me well, know that I absolutely love to dance. This one was kind of a no-brainer, but I had to mention it because it is my favorite thing to do here (preferably while also at the beach, drinking good Caribbean rum -don’t worry I’m legal even in the US-, and with all my Dominican friends present). Most US Americans are raised thinking that “Latin” music = Salsa and that everything Salsa in Latin Music and that any Latin Music is Salsa. Let me tell you here and now that you are so very mistaken. To begin, almost every type of music that Americans believe to be “latin” (with the exception of Tango) originated in Cuba. Also, not everything that sounds remotely “latin” is Salsa, in fact there are tons of different genres like the classic Cuban Son, Bolero and Rumba, to the more recent Salsa, Merengue and Dominican Bachata, and the most recent genres like Reggaeton, Dembow, Passa Passa and more. It would take me the better part of an entire day to write about all the different musical styles of the Caribbean, and that is excluding the music from the rest of Latin America, and maybe some day when I actually have the time and energy to throw myself into the daunting task I will, but for now just try to be mindful of the vast and beautiful genres that make up “latin” music.

While there are many many more themes that I would love to write about this post is getting excessively long so I will leave you with two links for you to explore. I realize that not all Americans have the ability to be quite as nomadic as I have been these past few years, and so for those of you who for whatever reason don’t have the opportunity to live abroad here is a blog entry written by a Irish guy who spent some time in the US and summed up all his frustrations with American culture in this very enlightening post.

http://www.fluentin3months.com/no-usa-for-me/

I found it extremely interesting and accurate to read, and hopefully it’ll give you a little bit of perspective. The next link is pretty shocking, but hopefully we can take it as a lesson to be learned.

http://news.yahoo.com/much-crazier-black-friday-221456950.html

And of course, to not leave you without a single visual, here is a disgustingly cute couple pic of Ramon and I which I took at the incredibly charming new park/beach in Santo Domingo. I will upload the rest of the photos from the shoot sometime this week.

Ode to Santo Domingo

El Calor
thats the first thing I notice
un calor que te agarra
te atrapa
te envuelve
and then
The city hits you
¡POW!
Santo Domingo
overrun by stray dogs and cats and kids
llena de basura
music blasting people yelling cars honking
Piropos
tantos piropos
Hey rubia pero tu si estas buena
oye china americana gringa linda muñeca
hungry eyes
souls
the city is starving
todos muriendo de hambre
tanto los ricos que los haitianos
Aunque no lo saben
Santo Domingo
la ciudad mas fea del mundo
always music always sex
always sex
always aguacate chinola cereza
always Duarte con París Independencia Kilometro 12
doesn’t matter where you’re going
súbete en mi guagua amor
yo te llevo amor
adonde tu vas amor
ay pero ésta vaina….
Santo Domingo
shithole
Santo Domingo
el culo del mundo
Santo Domingo
Love…

 


Juan Dolio

Whats my favorite part of the Dominican Republic (after dancing, of course)? The beaches. I love beaches. You would think that me growing up on a peninsula, constantly being on a swim or water polo team since age 11, and generally always choosing to live near a big salty mass of water (with the exception of Madrid) that I would be sick and tired of beaches. Not the case. There are few places I would rather be than hanging out on a good beach, and since in the Dominican Republic most beaches are usually accompanied by a few colmados blasting salsa, merengue and bachata, it is safe to say that there is no place I’d rather be in this country. For those people who come to the DR just to relax on a beach and get handed fruity drinks with colorful umbrellas by attractive island boys (and girls) then the resort route is definitely for you. For the rest of us adventurous souls who dare to take public transportation (which usually involves a few near-death experiences for those unaccustomed to Dominican driving- and trust me I will Never get accustomed) and are brave enough to sample the delicious fried street foods (love me some jonny keke) then this country has it all. I plan to do it all, or at least as much as $500 will get me over 12 days, but before then while I’m still stuck in Santo Domingo for school I have to rough it on the local beaches during the weekends. Most capitaleños will tell you that the best nearby beach to go to is Boca Chica.  However if you prefer a slightly less populated beach with street venders shoving their wares in your face every 5 minutes as opposed to every 2, then you probably want to go to Juan Dolio. From Santo Domingo, depending on which guagua you take (air conditioning costs extra, and you can usually find an express) Juan Dolio is about an hour to an hour and a half away. In Juan Dolio there are several different beaches to choose from, some of them attached to towering condominiums and others just have a few restaurants or colmados. Hemingway beach is attached to a few towering condominiums and because of that it has security and is far less populated by venders and people in general. Anyone can get into the beach but glass bottles are prohibited, so make sure if you bring your barceló rum or presidentes with you to hide them well, because they check bags.

Hemingway beach near sunset

My only problem with Hemingway is that in order to get something to eat or drink you have to leave the beach and walk a ways to the one colmado situated near the highway. The upside? This is the beach where many of Santo Domingo’s rich mami and papi kids go to party, so if you happen to know a few of them you can usually catch a ride home instead of having to hike back up to the highway and flag down a bus.

The next beach that I’ve visited is Guayacanes, which is probably the most well-known beach of Juan Dolio. I’m not a big fan, the times that I’ve been the water wasn’t too clean, and there were too many stray dogs for my taste. My personal favorite beach of Juan Dolio is Oasis.

Oasis beach

Oasis is nice because the colmados are close by, there are less street venders than Boca Chica or Guayacanes, and its fairly clean. Just make sure you stay for the sunset!

Sunset over Oasis

Haití in the Dominican Republic

As most of you know, the Dominican Republic shares an island with Haiti, and the two countries have a long history of conflict and cooperation. Originally the whole island was all Spanish territory, but in 1795 Spain ceded the whole island to France. The ‘official’ history in the DR is that Haiti invaded Santo Domingo, followed by several periods of Haitian occupation, however the real history is that Santo Domingo was under French rule so there was no such ‘occupation’ or ‘invasion’. Did I mention that Spain burned half of their colony to the ground in 1605-1606? So why are dominicans so intent on maintaining that they were spanish, and were ‘invaded’ by Haiti? I don’t have any good answer for that, but I can say that Haitian discrimination has been a huge problem on this half of the island, and we may or may not have our good friend Trujillo to thank for some of that. Trujillo (a brutal dictator with a long run- around 30 years!) had an intense hate towards Haiti, maybe it was racist (he used to powder his own skin to appear whiter) and maybe it was xenophobia, but whatever it was he institutionalized Haitian discrimination and frequently used Haiti as a scapegoat for the DRs problems. Whatever was wrong with the DR was swept not under the rug, but only the other half of the island. All of this culminated in a bloody massacre of over 20.000 haitians and dominicans of haitian decent residing within dominican borders ordered by our good friend Trujillo called the parsley massacre. While the parsley massacre (named because in order to determine if the person of question was haitian a dominican soldier would ask them to pronounce the word parsley in spanish- perejil, and if they said it wrong, well, you get the idea)  occurred back in 1937, haitian discrimination, called anti-haitianismo, is still completely relevant. Anti-Haitianismo in the Dominican Republic starts at birth, where often times dominican nurses and doctors won’t give new-born babies of haitian decent a birth certificate. According to the dominican constitution, all babies born on dominican soil with the exception of those born “in-transit” are granted dominican citizenship. What happens? Well without a birth certificate children of haitian decent are denied access to the most basic services, like education and medical services. Without a birth certificate, you don’t officially exist. As of today there have been several movements in the DR trying to combat anti-haitianismo and the violation of human rights. One of the campaigns is reconoci.do, a play on words, reconocido means recognized, reconoci means I recognized, and do stands for the DR. Reconoci.do works to bring awareness to this issue, and combat the violation of human rights of dominicans of haitian decent. For more information go to their site: http://reconoci.do/

Here’s a few pictures I took in Pequeño Haití

I almost got in trouble for taking some of these photos, extra thanks to Ramon for sweet talking our way out of a few sticky situations! ;p

Tigueraje take 2

I feel like this merits a new post because, as I said earlier, tigueraje has more meanings than just being a player. The other meaning of tigueraje, is being street-wise, a hustler, knowing all the local slang and being quick-witted. One of my favorite things when living in a new country is trying to pick up local slang and use it, usually the look on peoples face when they hear me using it is pretty priceless. Santo Domingo is one of the cities with the most slang I’ve ever visited, trust me, your high school spanish will only barely get you by, but seeing as though I’m basically a tiguera, and I almost have a college-degree ;p I will share with you what I’ve picked up so far. Starting with the title of my blog, No Bulto. Bulto means bullshit or lies, so no bulto means no lies, or I’m not bullshitting you, and a bultero is someone who is always lying and never backs up what he says.

ta to- ok, sounds good

dame lu -whats up, whats new

dime a ver- whats up

klk (que lo que)- whats up

tumba eso – forget that

toy quillao/a- I’m pissed off

desacatao/a- ready for whatever

ponte claro- tell me the truth, be clear

cotorra- literally means a parrot, saying a lot without saying anything of substance

muela- sweet talk (to get with a girl)

dame dato- tell me

sopolto/soporto- I’m down, I support that

hacer coro- to hang out

mi coro- my group of friends

muela- similar to cotorra, basically sweettalk, lies to make you look good

chevere- cool

ta cool -its cool

a nivel- cool

jevi- cool

nítido- cool

manso/a- tired

tranqui- chilling

encendido- usually for a party, this party is on fire

fulano/a- random person

mi jeva- my girl (girlfriend)

cuero- prostitute

loco- used for addressing friends, dude, man

platano/a- dominican

tas aplantanado/a- you’ve become dominican

For your education pleasures here is a song which illustrates some of the finer ‘tiguerajes’ of Santo Domingo

This gem I also found on youtube which features a couple of dominicans who dub over an american movie with dominican tigueraje. For those of you who speak dominicano you might find this slightly hilarious.

a mis dominicanos, si quieren agregar algo a la lista favor de dejar un comentario abajo!