Santo Domingo could be the Caribbean's best city
Submitted 9 months 2 weeks ago by AlexP.
Santo Domingo is a massive Spanish city with stunning architecture in the Dominican Republic. There are ornamented houses, ornate balconies with roses, castles, and courtyards. The modern downtown has a new subway that is clean and well-maintained. This is not a country in the third world. It appears to be more prosperous than, say, Ohio. It's most likely a second-world nation.
The peso is also 40 pesos to the dollar, but most items are 10-20 percent more expensive. The city has very little pollution and the air smells good. There are no corals or mangroves on the beaches, which are fine white sand with emerald waters.
The food is delicious. Fresh fish, chicken, cassava, high-quality rice, and delicious juices and fruits are available. The fruit has a pleasant aroma. Many of the locals I encountered struck me as more of a party crowd, people who live to have fun and like to joke and banter over food and drink or go dancing rather than have serious and lengthy discussions about serious topics, baseball being the exception lol. Some of the more serious people I met there were Haitians.
The people are roughly 60% black by American standards, except that in the US, Africans mixed with Brits to produce a certain facial type, while here they mixed with Spaniards to create a different type. Furthermore, many appear Angolan because they were carried by the Portuguese. There are a lot of light mulattos and some Spanish-looking males. Everyone is living and mingling together. They are just Dominicans.
I visited the popular Boca Chica beach and saw many pure African blacks. The skin had turned almost bluish. Everyone was polite, spoke Spanish, and was hanging out with everyone else. Nobody acted ghetto black in the United States.
When I took the approximately 2.5-hour ride from Santo Domingo to Santiago, I noticed a big difference. In Santiago, I saw a much higher percentage of very light-skinned mulattos and those who would be classified as Caucasian than in Santo Domingo. Despite my white skin, I felt less like a gringo in the former. And the locals I spoke with are generally conscious of the distinction. Many of the people I spoke to thought that girls in the area around Santiago were snobbier and maybe more materialistic than those in the city (SD)
Dominicans from Samana.
There are a few Amerindians, but they are mostly inland. I'd like to see those, so that'll be my next stop.
The roads are of good quality, the parks are green, there isn't much litter (some, but not as much as in other places), and there seems to be a very upbeat atmosphere and seriousness in the air.
The population of the capital is just 3 million citizens.
Strangers address me in Spanish as varon (man), senor, mano, amigo, and so on. Many cholo style guys appear macho, and some appear intimidating. Most of them seem brusque and do not return smiles.
No offense intended, but an average Dominican is much more well-rounded (at least in terms of knowledge) than an average Puerto Rican. You can talk about anything with regular people, and they still know what they're talking about. So you have a debate, and they know what to say because they are well-versed in history, geography, and politics. It's like taking a deep breath of fresh air. Their education is European, which means they know a little bit of everything, while the Puerto Rican education is American, which means they know only one thing well. Also, Puerto Rico has many vagos (cholos), who are viewed negatively here, and people work hard, and there seems to be enough work for everyone.
You can comfortably converse with strangers and feel included. I met some fascinating Dominicans, one of whom was a fluent Czech speaker and another who spent 16 years in the USSR.
The nation gained independence in 1844, went through growing pains, and is now just a normal country with no complications. They just exist, and you fit in with them.
There are many knowledgeable and fascinating people to meet here. Girls here talk and have conversations with you, unlike in the Philippines, where mute girls with no skills only smile and sit silently. In terms of intellectualism, after speaking with various ordinary people such as drivers, hairdressers, tour guides, and people on the street (in Spanish), they seem to have a much higher degree of general knowledge than Puerto Ricans.
I'm also not referring to what they want to do or talk about, but rather to what they know in comparison to the average Puerto Rican with the same social class. The latter has a loosely specialized American-style educational system, while the former has a more rounded Spanish/European-styled one. But that is my opinion based on my impressions of those two countries' languages, and these are always anecdotal and do not serve as absolute indicators of general intelligence.
People are respectful, hardworking, and intelligent. They enjoy reading and discussing politics and philosophy. Dominicans in the United States do not have a poor reputation and are generally very committed to their hard work.
As a short-term visitor, you can get by with English, but getting by and living are not the same thing. Spanish is the easiest language to learn and, like English, is a foreign language. Half of the terms are identical. You will become fairly fluent in 3-4 months and then become a native Spanish speaker in a year. Two hours of research a day will suffice. English is used on the tourist route, but not in culture.
The Internet connection here is excellent and extremely quick. The crime rate has been greatly underestimated. They'll simply tell you not to go to slums, but that regular city areas are fine.
In terms of work, we can all work online and teach English or find something else to do. Why bother looking for office jobs here?
One issue here may be noise pollution, as some restaurants blast music until 10 p.m., making it difficult to sleep in your hotel if you are near such a spot. Most of the cars on the roads are fresh, the buildings are sturdy, and everything is well-developed. I'm extremely impressed. The city is situated on the sea, and you can take long walks along the malecon while watching ships and waves of the emerald sea pound against the rocks on the beach.
In the DR, there is no such thing as 'diversity.' All is from the same country, which is Dominican culture. They are just Dominicans. It's such a shock to meet black people on the street who grab your hand and start asking you questions and then try to make friends with you, and they speak Spanish with a Dominican accent and behave the same as anyone else. There is no such thing as "acting black" or "acting white," and there is no such thing as a "black country" as there is a Dominican nation.
Why can't the United States be the same? I'm sure Dominican colleges don't have Black student unions. Here, black is a colour, not a nation or an ethnicity. There is no jive to be seen.
There was a Dominican president who famously said, "Anyone who steps on Dominican soil is a Dominican."
You're crammed into a bus with all these black people, but they have no ill will against you, are very respectful, and don't have a chip on their shoulder. I met a girl today who resembled a South African Khoisan. I began conversing with her and inquiring about her ethnic background (an American habit). She gave me a strange look and simply said, "I am Dominican, that is my origin."
They did not create skin color as an official race or nationality. They hyphenate, but only in the case of Chinese-Dominicano-Chinese. They put Judeo-Dominican with Jews (Jews have the freedom to deny, but most don't). During WWII, the DR took in and resettled a large number of Jews. Last night, I went to a Jewish restaurant where they played Sephardic music in Hebrew and served a variety of Middle Eastern cuisine.
The Dominicans are not dumb enough to confuse a Jew from Germany with a German, and they can identify Jews based on their facial features. A modern American, however, cannot.
In general, prejudice begins in both of these Hispanic colonies when you choose to pursue a political career and are not of the previous majority stock of the population. There is very little social discrimination The polar opposite of the United States.
Anyway, as you can see, governments label citizens arbitrarily, and it is absurd to accept it as a divine command or an immutable destiny. These people haven't been brainwashed, and they don't have any complexes. They are knowledgeable and intelligent. On average, I believe they earn significantly more than Puerto Ricans. They see PR as a corrupt, drug-infested wasteland populated by illiterate people. Which isn't far off the mark.