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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.
Updated Mar 4, 2013
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.
Updated Jul 13, 2009
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.
Written Jun 17, 2008
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).
Written Feb 26, 2008
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.
Written Feb 26, 2008
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.
Updated Dec 2, 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.
Written Nov 28, 2007
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.
Updated Oct 26, 2007
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).
Updated Oct 4, 2007
Website: www.presidente.com.do (only in Spanish)
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!
Written Sep 11, 2007
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