Local traditions and culture in Santo Domingo

  • Break time
    Break time
    by Assenczo
  • Plantain and fruit vendor 2
    Plantain and fruit vendor 2
    by marielexoteria
  • Plantain and fruit vendor 1
    Plantain and fruit vendor 1
    by marielexoteria

Most Viewed Local Customs in Santo Domingo

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    Sightseeing is hard work

    by Assenczo Updated Mar 4, 2013

    Everybody who has been to the imperial capitals of Europe has noticed that roofs are not meant to restrict or square off buildings. The rich and ambitious monarchies have most probably followed the example of the richest monarchy of them all – the Vatican. This realm’s ultimate achievement and potent symbol, the cathedral of St. Paul, is studded with statues of saints gracefully overlooking the daily lives of the ordinary citizens from “above”. Even the mortals “below” find it gorgeous – the strait lines of the roof have been broken up easing the flow between stone and sky; the tangible and intangible. The same principal has been preserved with some tongue-in-cheek attitude in the streets of Santo Domingo, very similar to examples from Bogota, Colombia. This time, instead of the stern Bible fellas of Rome one has the privilege to enjoy the presence of benevolent clownish characters poking fun at the passers-by.

    Break time
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    Playing domino

    by marielexoteria Updated Jul 13, 2009

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    Playing domino while drinking a few cold beers is a pastime we Dominicans enjoy. If we can't play we like to at least watch and participate in the fun.

    Domino is usually played by 4 people in 2 teams of 2, where the players of the same team sit in front of each other. Normally we play on wood tables and we like to slam the domino bricks on to it, especially when making the game difficult for the opposing team or when making "capicúa". Most of the time the game is at the local colmado (convenience store) or at someone's front porch or patio. While this pastime is enjoyed all over DR, I chose to place it in my Santo Domingo page because here is where I've lived and spent most of my time.

    Read about how to play the game and a brief explanation of the word capicúa at the website below.

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    Let's Do Carnival!

    by BTMonica Written Jun 17, 2008

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    Carnival in Santo Domingo has to be the world's largest party. It is an insance atmosphere loaded with alcohol, food, dance, and a ton of fun. I use to love the carnival season because I would meet people from all over the Dominican Republic. I never knew just how culturally diverse my people actually were until I started going to carnival.

    Beautiful people.

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    Street vendors

    by marielexoteria Written Feb 26, 2008

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    These people sell their merchandise (usually fresh fruits, herbs and veggies) on the streets. They start shouting or talking through a megaphone from early in the morning to sometimes early in the afternoon in the neighborhoods. These vendors are found everywhere in the country but since the pictures were taken in SD, I made the tip here.

    These people are important for those who don't want or can't go to the supermarket everyday if they're missing something for lunch or dinner.

    On the pictures on this tip you'll find 2 plantain and fruit vendors, a bread vendor and a drinkable water vendor (in that order).

    Plantain and fruit vendor 2 Plantain and fruit vendor 1 Bread vendor Water vendor
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    Paleteros

    by marielexoteria Written Feb 26, 2008

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    This kind of street vendor keeps to one street corner to sell his/her merchandise. They started selling cookies, crackers, lollipops, bubble gum, etc but some sell fruit today as well. The name "paletero" comes from the word "paleta" which means lollipop.

    Paleteros in front of the zoo
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    Aguinaldos

    by marielexoteria Updated Dec 2, 2007

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    An aguinaldo is a typical get together where people would go singing Christmas songs from door to door, accompanied by our Dominican drums, güira (a cylindrical percussion instrument made of a thin tin sheet, see picture) and accordion. These informal singers and music players are received merrily with ginger tea, coffee, hot chocolate, cookies, empanadas, etc. Sometimes they'd even collect money to make a big sancocho.

    The most traditional song is a merengue with a not-so-subtle güira sound, and it goes like this, with my loose translation:

    "Ábreme la puerta (2x, open the door [to me])
    que estoy la calle (because I'm [out] on the street)
    y dirá la gente (and people will say)
    que esto es un desaire. (that this is a turn down.)

    allá dentro veo (2x, I see in there)
    un bulto tapao, (a hidden something)
    no se si será un lechón asao (I don't know if it'll be a roasted pig)"

    These parties can be either prearranged some days (or weeks) in advanced or something created by the spur of the moment, usually after we Dominicans get our "doble sueldo" - which is a tax-free 13th pay we get together with our tax deductible December pay.

    G��ira (photo from www.tyhturismo.com) Dominican tambora (drum)
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    Money

    by mikey_e Written Nov 28, 2007

    Like many Caribbean nations, the Dominican Republic has period foreign exchange problems. Part of the problem is government debt, and part is the partial fix on the exchange rate maintained by the government. When you come to the DR you should always arrive with USD (even if you're from the Eurozone). USD are easily exchangeable int Dominican Pesos (DOP), plus you can pay with US cash at many, many stores. Once you get to Santo Domingo, exchange some of your USD for DOP at a private exchange office (NOT a bank or government office - the private ones, I think, are only quasi legal). You'll get a better exchange rate and will pay no commission. There was one booth in a dry cleaner's on Avenida Independencia just west of Parque de la Independencia. DOP will help you bargain for the best possible prices in the city, although some hotels will ask for payment in USD only.

    When leaving the country, try to get rid of your DOP BEFORE getting to the airport. At the airport, prices are usually in USD, and employees will be more than happy to charge you an exhorbitant exchange rate for your DOP. It happened to my sister, who ended up paying $5 more for a box of cigarrillos than she should have because she paid in DOP instead of USD.

    20 Pesos dominicanos

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    Colmado (convenience store)

    by marielexoteria Updated Oct 26, 2007

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    A colmado is a place where you basically go and buy food. The difference between a colmado and a supermarket is that you don't have the variety you have on the latter, and that the prices differ. You can even buy some bread, salami or ham, cheese, tomato and a spoon of butter and a drink and feast for a very cheap price. Here's also a place where you can play domino if there's enough people, as music is being played as loud as possible (hehe), or simply enjoy a few cold ones, talk to locals and have a good time.

    Colmado (photo from www.el-bohio.com)
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    Cerveza Presidente

    by marielexoteria Updated Oct 4, 2007

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    Presidente is the #1 beer amongs Dominicans. We simply loooooove a good cold one, so cold it's frosty on the outside of the bottle - and that's called "vestida de novia" (dressed with a wedding gown). Before there used to be only the one kind of beer, but now they have introduced a light version (haven't tried it tho, beer isn't really supposed to be light imo) and a 2-liter bottle (if my memory doesn't fail me).

    Presidente Beer almost totally

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    Ironwork and Doorways

    by mikey_e Written Sep 11, 2007

    Anyone who has travelled through Spain and/or Latin American countries knows that grills, gates, grates and entranceways always feature prominently in Spanish and hispanic architecture, and that and open view from the street into the courtyard is a cornerstone of Hispanic society. Santo Domingo is no exception to this tradition, and as you wander through the Zona Colonial don't be surprised (especially at night) if you can look right into the family room of a house, full with family members of all generations. During the day, the exceptional artisanry of the ironworkers makes great material for photography - but at this time of day, of course, you're more likely to see dogs than people!

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    Santo Domingo Architecture

    by mikey_e Written Sep 11, 2007

    As the first city in Spanish America, Santo Domingo obviously has some of the best examples of early Spanish colonial architecture, including Baroque churches and government buildings. The Colonial presence means that some of the more important structures have a military feel to them, while some churches harken to older times with their Romanesque or Gothic façades. As other places in Mexico and South America gained in importance, and the importance of the Spanish kingdom waned, Santo Domingo's inhabitants slowed their construction of new buildings and as such the city has relatively fewer examples of later trends in architecture (like Modernist and Neo-Classical styles) in the historic areas of the capital. Still, you can find some examples of these movements, particularly among private residences (the rich are always sensitive to happenings in major world cities). You can also find some novel native innovations, particularly in the poorer areas, where people have sought to make their homes more permanent and withstand the elements (as Santo Domingo is prone to earthquakes and hurricanes).

    Fans of so-called Colonial Rot will also be pleased by a trip to Santo Domingo. The excessive humidity and inability of government services to restore all buildings in the Zona Colonial mean that there are abundant examples of this New World phenomenon.

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    Dominican Art

    by mikey_e Written Sep 11, 2007

    I'm not going to give an overview of Dominican art since, for something more complete and meaningful, you can always look up the section on art in a Rough Guides or Lonely Plant book. Nevertheless, the works of art in the Dominican Republic are quite impressive, and, unlike many other countries, painting and artistic expression are huge parts of daily life and the tourist industry, from the Museums of various types of art to those who sell works along El Conde to the contemporary artists workshops along Isabel la Católica. The earlier (19th century and earlier) painting exhibits clear Spanish and European influences, as many of the artists, especially the earlier ones, were born in Europe. Modern art has been influenced by a wide variety of movements, and it one of the things that mirrors the bright and vibrant colours of life in the Dominican Republic. Unlike in Cuba, where socialist realism has dampened, in some respects, the modes of expression, Dominican artists are fond of cubism and abstract art. Many amateur painters and artists mimic their style, and their output provides unique forms souvenirs to help you remember your trip to the DR.

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    "Paleteros" : Local street vendors

    by Guzzie19 Written Sep 5, 2007

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    There are nice guys sitting or standing in the corner or place that you cannot imagine and in their little cart they have all that you need for the last minute that you forgot to buy at the store such as: cigarettes, candies, gum, calling cards, chocolate, lollypops or even fruit!.

    They wont harm you.. just offer their products to make their living.

    A 'paletero' in one of the main Ave.: Lincoln
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    Try speaking a little spainish

    by hawk460 Written Oct 20, 2006

    On arriving at the dominican republic,,at the hotel desk at check in,,,I tried my crude spainish,,and with a great surprise,,they were amused at my effort,,,and started speaking english to assist me on my check in,,it was that way everywhere,,,they are great people to be around.

    Lobby desk at Barcelo Capella
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    We thought that the way of the...

    by andreyvonn Written Aug 26, 2002

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    We thought that the way of the Republican people in the touristic areas, was to always try to get the most out of whatever they are selling, we have to bargain all the time, which gets very annoying. We visited other places but foud that this is particularly true in the Dominican Republic.Too bad.

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