LOS LECHONES Y CARNAVAL
This is what's called a "Lechon" is only viewed during the carnaval, and mostly in the Cibao region, most notably is the Carnaval de Santiago, this occurs during the month of february and it's something you should experience first hand!
The first Lechones arose like guardians of the order in the old carnivals of Santiago, according to the history. They paraded ahead of the Comparsas(Parading groups), to open them road before the multitudes and thus to avoid the indiscipline of the youth.
First they carried a stick in the hand, moving it constantly from one side to the other; subsequently they changed the stick to a Fuete (whip) of cabuya(Local plant, like Hemp-fiber). And finally, they added the Vejiga (air balloon made out of dried cow's bladders).
Just as the Lechones of uptown, the downtown Lechones dressed identical disguises (of fluff of two or three colors). At times of brilliant tafeta or silk's skins, adorned with small round mirrors and sequins.
When the Comparsas accompanied by their Lechones passed from a neighborhood to another, in the majority of the times fights broke out among the Lechones that accompanied them and the ones in that neighborhood. Then, they could not recognize those of a same side, and many times by misconception were attacked by themselves.
It was necessary to make a distinctive dress among the Lechones of uptown and downtown. That is to say, they agreed to differentiate themselves for once and always, the uptown began to be called PEPINEROS (wearing a mask with a completely smooth horn), and the downtown that were always called JOYEROS (by their proximity to the beaches of the river Yaque north), their masks flourished with thorns or puyas.
That's how they came to be as they are seen today, with their brilliant suits of colors in full heart of the Cibao, there by the year 1861, the Lechones of the Carnival of Santiago, famous and unique in the history of the carnivals of the country.
THE RD$ 100 PESOS BILL, EASY TO SPOT IN THE BRIGHT COLORS!
SINCE THE DOMINICAN ECONOMY WENT INTO A TAILSPIN THESE BILLS ARE LIKE CARRYING CHANGE IN YOUR POCKET!
WHEN THE DOLLAR GOES UP, PRICES GO UP, WHEN THE DOLLAR GOES DOWN PRICES STAY UP!!!! LOL!!!!!!!!!!!
AHHHHH THE DOMINICAN ECONOMY!!
ONE OF THE WORLDS MYSTERIES!!!
THE RD$ 5 PESOS BILL, GOING , GOING, GONE!
NO LONGER IN CIRCULATION, THEY ARE PRESENT AS COINS, AND THOSE ARE SELDOM USED!!!
I USED TO BUY A TRUCK LOAD WITH IT WHEN I WAS LIVING THERE BACK IN 1986!!!!
" SANTIAGO - FACTS "
Santiago de los Caballeros (or simply Santiago) was founded in 1495 during the first wave of European colonization of the New World. The original colony was in the city of Jacagua, but after an earthquake in 1506, it was moved to its present location.
Santiago was an important strategic city in the Dominican War of Independence in 1844, and has sometimes been the capital of the country. Today Santiago is the second largest city in the Dominican Republic with an approximate population in the range of 1000000 inhabitants.
" MY VISIT "
Santiago is a major traffic point in the Dominican Republic, and therefore I have been to Santiago numerous times. When you are travelling from Santo Domingo (south) to the north-western part of the Dominican Republic you must pass through Santiago – and if you are travelling with bus - Santiago often means you also have to change to another bus.
I have stayed overnight in Santiago a couple of times, and find the City to have an OK night life, great shopping opportunities, several cultural activities… and of course the Aguilas…
" AGUILUCHO "
In 2006, I watched my first baseball game ever: Águilas vs. Licey, and from that day I was sold. In Denmark I have watched the soccer derby in Copenhagen between Brøndby IF and FC Copenhagen many times, but the atmosphere in a Danish football stadium is nothing compared with the atmosphere in a Dominican baseball ground: Drums, singing, dancing, Brugal, cervezas, merengue…
In 2008 I saw Águilas vs. Licey twice, so I will now call myself a Danish ‘Aguilucho’… by the way, I have never seen Águilas loose a game…
Read more about Águilas Cibaeñas here: www.aguiluchos.com.
SANTIAGO DE LOS 30 CABALLEROS
The city of Santiago de Los 30 Caballeros is situated on the bank of Yaque del Norte River, in the heart of the fertile Valle del Cibao. Whether founded in 1494 by Christopher Columbus (as some historians claim) or in 1495 by his brother Bartolomeo, Santiago was among the first European settlements in America and first Santiago of the New World. In 1504, 30 caballeros (gentlemen) of the Order of St. James (Santiago) moved from nearby La Isabela to Santiago, henceforth known as Santiago de los 30 Caballeros.
In 1508 King Fernando el Catolico of Spain, gives the city it's own Coat of Arms. After being destroyed by an earthquake in 1562, the city was rebuilt a few miles away, where the Arroyo (stream) Nibaje meets the Yaque; ruins of the old city are still visible in the district of San Francisco de Jacagua. Santiago survived numerous earthquakes and fires to serve repeatedly as the republic's capital. The city was looted by the pirate Fernando de la Fleur, in 1690 it was looted again but also burned by French troops settled in the western part of the island(Haiti), in 1805 Hatian troops looted and occupied the city and the island, slaying hundreds of it's residents by cutting their throats, in march 30 1844 the city was the host to one of the fiercest battles against the occupying Haitian troops, sealing the independance of the country from Haiti announced the 27th of february of the same year. In 1857 Santiago revolts against the dictatorship of Bienaventura Baez and declared the City as capital of the the Dominican Republic naming General Desiderio Arias Valverde as president and declared a Liberal constitution, but the revolt was crushed by the troops of General Santana which annexed the Republic to Spain in 1861, The residents of Santiago where furious about the actions of General Santana and initiated a movement to overthrow his goverment and restore the Independance, the leaders where hunted and executed: Eugenio Perdomo,Pedro Ignacio Espaillat, Carlos de Lora, Vidal Pichardo(I'm one of his descendants, one of my brothers carries his name), Antonio Batista y el Coronel Pierret, in september of the same year santiagueros burned the city to force the spaniards that where besieged in the Fort of San Luis to flee, which they did, in september 14 1863 after many battles and persecutions. the city of Santiago rebuilt and more powerful is declared capital of the Republic with a provisioned Government presided by Jose A. Salcedo, After this Spain never again recovered a foothold in the local power struggle in the island, in July 1865 Spain ceded the Republic to the independentist Movement, after several bloody battles. In the year 1874 was founded The Amantes de la Luz y el Ateneo de Santiago Society, to teach and explain the Santiaguera Culture, in 1891 the first Daily was printed into circulation "El Dia", in 1916 Santiago is home of the General Command Post of the American Occupation forces in the Dominican Republic, after they leave the country in 1922 the third Republic period of 1924 is declared. It was during this period that the city was put under a capital public works, streets, bridges, plumbing and electricity where built to the level of that period's standarts.
Notable landmarks include the San Luis Fort, the University of the Catholic Mother and Teacher (Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra; 1962), various palaces, and the Cathedral of Santiago el Mayor situated opposite the city park (Parque Duarte).
"THE HEART OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC"
The picture on the left is a monument built to commemorate the restoration of the Republic's Independance, it was built in the 40's with 67 meters of altitude, in white marble, it has small museums in it's interior, several murals and frescos despicting the life of taino indians and other equally impressive works, it's a symbol of the city of Santiago, once named "Monumento to the peace of Trujillo" while the Dominican Dictator was in power, . It's a site that serves as a meeting destination for all Santiagueros, these are the residents of the City of Santiago, if you ever go there you'll notice something very much unique to this city, the absolute absence of any tourism aimed sites, we have none there, it's by far a tourism free city(if there ever was one), I think it's due to the fact that Santiago is home to the oldest and most traditional families in the Dom. Rep. the most prestigious and well to do merchants and industrial owners and executives make it their home, to mention one The Bermudez Family(yes the Bermudez Rum owners), and many others whom I wont mention because they don't like to be bugged too much, also it's worth mention that many of the country leaders, including most Dominican presidents, come from this region, Santiago is a city of old traditions, some are very unique to the region itself, for example it's custommary to close the business at 12:00 noon and re-open at 2:00 P.M. to resume sales and operations, that's the time in which Santiagueros have their main meal of the day, have some coffee, and a siesta before returning to work, the city comes to a letargic yet like in suspended time period, one can't hardly resist the custom oneself
The city's economy depends mainly on the production of cigarettes, rum, furniture, pharmaceuticals, soaps, leather articles, and processed foods, including cacao, milled rice, and dairy produce. Santiago is on the main highway linking Santo Domingo (85 mi [137 km]southeast) with Montecristi in the extreme northwest.
Santiago is the cradle of the Merengure Tipico, the most popular form and original Merengue of the island, called Pericos Ripiaos, these are candent fast paced Merengue tunes, it's home to one of the most dynamic Free Trade Zones in the country, and where the best nightclubs, discos, and restaurants in the country are located, it is known for it's very intense nocturnal life.
"CENTRO DE RECREO DE SANTIAGO"
El Centro de Recreo de Santiago(Santiago Recreation Center) by the street "Benito Monción" is located on an extensive lot, of which a part was occupied by two houses, where one was a Bakery and residence of the Pichardo Family, and the other a house of the Widowed Pichardo; the gallery of the house of one level that was expanded later to the two level house that at present it occupies was an elegant yet simple decorated one. It housed The Club Santiago at the same time, on which were celebrated animated and regal festivals as well as the "Arguinaldos" every Christmas season, dances of impecable dressed gentlemen and ladies and of "mamarrachos"(Masks) in seasons of carnaval and two large Dances of Salon filed thus the "Statutes" - on the August 5th, anniversary and December 31st of each year. The Arguinaldos were organized four or six weeks before Christmas. The first Saturday, many couples of ladies and young men were appointed by the elected executive in charge so that they carried it out to their own expenses and they also should leave the list of the subsequent selection of the couples that would do it on the next Saturday, and so on. These couples competed and tried to surpass in splendor and expense each previous festival. The suits of the large festivals was sometimes tuxedo for young men and long elegant night dresses for ladies, in those days very few dared show a clevage, and if so they did it discretely, although with time the clevages of the elegant life from the French parlors was accepted were naked backs gave way, they were well toned with the haute fashion of the times. The loyalty of those times was sensitive to the happiness and pain of all and supported each other in such form that when someone from the society circle or a close relative of one of them became ill or died the festivals were suspended and sorrow of three days was proclaimed. El Centro de Recreo de Santiago during the present Century had to our judgment its most brilliant splendor toward 1922 under the Presidency of the fine bardo Francisco Pereyra Hijo, Administration during which was named one of the two Institution's executive secretaries, besides becoming the boss of festivals, he organized some others parties of intellectual character. One of the most brilliant Conferences was the one in which parlors dictated Dr. Manuel Arturo Machado the attic of the notable Dominican letters, the jurist passed away a little later in his residence of the Capital, as well as the Sunday meetings and concerts of the Central Lyrical Club by Rafael Primero, and Art presentations to some of which travelled from the Capital the President of the Republic Mr. Juan Bta. Viccini Burgos and others. Those were the days in which the societies of the Capital and of Santiago de Los Caballeros came to see each other, after more than a 50 year-old separation in geography and social deal by the lack of communications until the inauguration May 6, of the Duarte Highway . But what had then greater splendor and news was the Carnaval of that year that broke the fashion of the parliamentary monarchical fiction of the countries of Europe and changed toward the style of the large Oriental festivals elegancies with the mudéjares of forms and technical arabic of the Century in its harmonic fusion of the Gothic and morisco. It was the Sultana, the Young lady Ana Julia Bonnelly, married later with the Lic. Jafet D. Hernández that introduced the elegancy of the oriental royal court's splendor to the high society circles of Santiago de Los Caballeros.