THE FLAG OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
The Dominican Republic flag is comprised of:
* A centre white cross dividing the flag into 4 rectangles. This white cross symbolises faith.
* 4 rectangles. The top ones are blue (hoist side) and red, and the bottom ones are red (hoist side) and blue. The blue and red are from the flag of Haiti. Haiti had occupied the Dominican Republic starting just 3 months after they originally declared independence from Spain. The occupation lasted from early 1822 until 1844.
* In the middle is the coat of arms featuring a shield supported by an olive branch (below left) and a palm branch (below right). Above the shield there is a blue ribbon with the words “Dios, Patria, Libertad” which translates as “God, the Fatherland, Liberty. Below the shield is a red ribbon with the words “Republica Dominicana”. This coat of arms is pictured separately.
The Dominican Republic Flag was adopted on November 6, 1844 and has remained roughly the same.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Adventure Travel
Taxes - entering and leaving the country
Edit: The prices changed (Dec 2008).
On entering the DR you pay 10US$ - which you do when you buy your tourist card. On leaving, you pay 20US$.
It's easier for them and quicker for you if you pay with the exact money (as in 10US for 1 person, 20US for 2 and so on) but if you have big bills they do give you your change. You can buy the tourist card from your nearest DR embassy also. And always double check with your airline/travel agency because some include the leaving tax on their flight ticket price.
Nowadays the tourist card is good for up to 29 days (as opposed to 90 like it was before), so if you overstay there's a small fee you pay on leaving. Please observe that the fee is paid in Dominican pesos. The fees are (American dollar cost based on 1 US = 33 pesos):
30 Days - 3 Months: $800 Pesos (24.24 US)
3 Months - 9 Months: $1000 Pesos (30.30 US)
9 Months - 1 Year: $2500 Pesos (75.75 US)
1 Year - 1.5 Years: $4000 Pesos (121.21 US)
1.5 Years - 2 Years: $5000 Pesos (151.51 US)
2 Years - 2.5 Years: $6500 Pesos (196.96 US)
2.5 Years - 3 Years: $9000 Pesos (272.72 US)
3-5 Years: $14000 Pesos (424.24 US)
5 Years+: $17000 Pesos (515.15 US)
A lot of people overstay and pay this without having too much trouble or they don't get charged (like Mr. Sweden who overstayed his card 3 days). And don't pay more than what you have to pay - there are signs at the airport with this information.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Knowing the Basics of a Spanish is a Must!
Although you may not know how to speak Spanish, try and learn the basics. Unlike Mexico where mostly everyone knows English, mostly everyone in the Dominican Republic only sticks to Spanish. Not only that, the people that you speak Spanish to will greatly appreciate that you are trying. Think of someone coming to you own town and speaking their own language and not even trying to speak your language. It's more frustrating than if someone tries to speak the local language very poorly and completely broken.Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Family Travel
- Luxury Travel
The locals love to dance! Bachata, salsa, merenge, all of it. They don't listen to a lot of hiphop or other music that is popular in America. You will hear a lot of songs on the radio, and playing in nightclubs by Spanish singers, such as Zacharias and Franky Reyes. (Their music is great, very latin carribean. It's available for download on Ares and torrent if you want to check it out.) If you go to a nightclub in the Dominican, try to stick with your friends as much as possible. Dress much less suggestive than you would at home, because the extent of the male's voyeurism is taken to a MUCH higher extent here than in most Western countries.
Me gusta la musica = I like the music
Tengo un novio = I have a boyfriend
Vamos a bailar = Lets dance!
Espanol por favor
Of course, many people who work in the resort areas know some English, but you will come across many locals who do not know any. In any case, knowing a few words and phrases in Spanish can't hurt! Here are a few you may want to remember.
1. Hola (HOE-LA): Hello
2. Como esta (COE-MOE ES-TA): How are you?
3. Nosotros queremos cambiar el dinero (NOS-OTROS KEH-REH-MOS CAM-BEE-AR ELLE DEEN-ERO): We would like to change money
4. Quiero (KYAY-ROH): I would like..
5. Porque (POOR KAY): Why?
5. Donde esta.. (DON-DAY ES-TA): Where is..
6. Hace mucho calor (HA-SAY MOOCH-O CA-LORE): It's very hot outside!
7. Quanto cuesta (KWAN-TOE KWES-TA): How much does this cost?
8. Muchas gracias (MOOCH-OSS GRAT-SIAS): Thank you very much
9. Lo siento (LOE SEE-EN-TOE): I'm sorry
10. Perdonneme (PER-DON-EH-MEH): Excuse me, forgive me
11. Adios (AD-IOS): Goodbye
12. Hasta lluego (HAS-TA LOO-AY-GO): See you later
13. Puedo tener..(PWAY-DO TEN-ER): Can I have..
14. Que hora es (KAY ORA ES): What time is it?
15. No hablo mucho espanol (NO AB-LO MOO-CHO ES-PAN-YOL): I don't speak much Spanish
La playa- beach
Cerrado - closed
Abierto - open
El Hotel - hotel
La comida - food, meal
El dinero - money
La casa - the house
Los servicios - the bathroom, facilities
El aeropuerto - airport
Cambio de dinero - money exchange
Peligro - danger
Picante - spicy
Como - how
Que - what
Quien - who
Cuando - when
Por que - whyRelated to:
- Study Abroad
- Arts and Culture
In every "central" or big park in any given town you'll find them. A glorieta is an open space, circle shaped and with a roof and it's usually located at the center of the park. In the glorietas, the local music band gives free concerts or people, for ex. from the city hall, who want to give a speech can do it and be covered by the inclemency of the sun or the rain.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
- Arts and Culture
Let's talk rum
After beers, Dominicans love a good rum. The 3 most popular brands (I don't recall seeing more brands than these) are the 3 B's: Brugal, Barceló and Bermúdez. All of them are distilled and produced there. I particularly don't like rum but if I had to choose one to drink I'd go for Bermúdez. Brugal is usually the one that people like the most.
En Santo Domingo bailamos merengue*
* We dance merengue in Santo Domingo.
Indeed we do but not only in Santo Domingo but in the whole island. Merengue is our typical music and one could say that it's a mix of 3 cultures, just like we Dominicans are: Spanish, Taíno and African. From the Taínos we have the güiras and from the Africans we have the tamboras (drums).
The "golden era" of Merengue was during Trujillo's dictatorship and Merengue from that time is called "classic". As time went by, more elements were introduced to the dance, making the tempo faster, the lyrics less "cultivated" and more "slang/colloquial". Some of the best performers we have are Juan Luis Guerra, Fernando Villalona, Milly Quezada, Johnny Ventura, Sergio Vargas and Los Hermanos Rosario. They have been doing good merengue for at least 20 years, and they're still as popular as the first day.Related to:
Dominican folklore: La Ciguapa
According to folk tales, la ciguapa is a woman with very long hair covering her body and with her feet turned backwards. This is believed to be used so that she can send her enemies on the opposite direction she ran to, should they follow her foot prints.
There are many myths concerning this creature. Some say she's descendent from the few Taíno indians who survived the massacre by hiding in mountains and caves. Some say that the only way to capture her is with a "perro cinqueño" (a certain kind of dog) and in a Friday night with full moon. Some say that her intentions are to kidnap men to become pregnant, and that she wouldn't release those men until she knew that she was with child (supposedly they can feel whether they're pregnant or not). What apparently everyone agrees on is that she's a benevolent creature. I remember seeing a TV show that tried to catch her in film. They spent the night at one of the places where they're seen and they left fruit and a night camera connected but the next morning they discovered that nothing was filmed, even though the fruit was gone...
This tip is taken from a book written by a Dominican (will come back with title and author).Related to:
- Arts and Culture
Without a doubt, I'd say the 3 national Dominican dishes are:
(1) The "flag" (la bandera): rice, red beans, meat or chicken and salad. *The* dish #1, eaten by rich and poor. Usually with concon (the rice that gets stuck on the pot, that you get by using a silver spoon.)
(2) "Mangú": mashed plantain (the green ones), similar in preparation as mashed potatoes. With butter or with oil, and with fried eggs or salami, avocado slices and onion rings (without the bread crumbs) on the side.
(3) "Sancocho": it's a stew with meat and vegetables (being plantain, cassava, and corn the ones most used) in it. Specially good after having some cold beers.
Other things we consider "ours" (even tho they might exist in other cultures) are fried cassava (first boiled, then fried) and fried plantain slices (both the green and the ripe ones).Related to:
- Food and Dining
DR has the following red days:
* Jan 1: new year's day
* Jan 6: Catholic Epiphany day, the Three Wise Men day (movable to the next (or previous if closer) Monday)
* Jan 21: Vírgen de la Altagracia day
* Jan 26: Juan Pablo Duarte (one of our Founding Fathers) day (movable to the next (or previous if closer) Monday)
* Feb 27: Independence day
* Catholic Good Friday: sometime in March or April
* May 1: labor day (movable to the next Monday)
* Catholic Corpus Christi: sometime in June
* Aug 16: Restoration day (movable to the next (or previous if closer) Monday unless there's a change of government and president)
* Sep 24: Vírgen de las Mercedes day
* Nov 6: Constitution day (movable to the next (or previous if closer) Monday)
* Dec 25: Christmas day
Of those, the ones that are flag days are Duarte day, Independence day, Restoration day and Constitution day, where we're encouraged to put the flag on a visible part of our houses. But the tradition of showing off the flag is dying due to the moving of some of the days as people get confused as of which day to put the flag out. Too bad.
Día de los Reyes Magos (the Three Wise Men day)
When I was a kid, we kids used to get our Christmas presents on Jan 6 or the Three Wise Men day. No matter what day of the week it fell, we always had the whole week off school so that we could enjoy our toys because we wouldn't see much of them until the Summer holidays or the next Three Wise Men day.
The Three Wise Men are Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazar and are the same men who followed the Star of Bethlehem to were Baby Jesus was born and brought him gifts (gold, incense and myrrh) when he was born. In DR they come with their camels carrying gifts to distribute among the kids of the country.
The tradition says that on the night of Jan 5, we're to leave these Men some candy ("mentas" as we call the candy we left for them), water and some grass for the camels. They would come in the wee of night, eat the candy, drink the water, feed the camels and leave toys to the kids who have behaved well in the previous year. The next day it was awesome to see every child playing with "what the Men brought" them for hours, making the necessary pauses to eat (who had an appetite then? hehe). This was a happy day for kids all around the country, poor or rich (of course, the richer you were the "better" presents you got and so on). I usually tried waiting until I could see them coming to my bed and leaving my presents, and even said "I'd sleep with one eye closed and one open" but nope, never happened hehe.
If by any chance the Three Wise Men didn't leave kids anything (or as the parents said "if they misbehaved"), then "La Vieja Belén" (Old Belén) would bring them something. Her day was Jan 8 (not a red day).
With the influence of the American culture, however, this tradition is losing its importance and children are given their presents on Christmas Eve, with the argument of "then they enjoy the toys more since schools don't give them the week off like before". I can see that the argument is valid but it's a shame that our old traditions are on the way of disappearing.
Traditional Christmas food and drinks
The traditional Christmas dinner is one of the (if not the) biggest events of the year. We cook a lot of food that we eat not only on Christmas Eve, but on the following days hehe. Some of the dishes we eat are telera (like a baguette), roasted pork, moro de guandules (pigeon peas mixed with rice), pastelitos (savoury pasties), pasteles en hoja (ground-root pockets), and "Russian" potato salad. On the fruit department we make sure to have apples, grapes, mixed nuts and raisins on the table.
The 3 most traditional Christmas drinks in my country are (in no order):
(1) Vino Moscatel Caballo Blanco: this is a very sweet red wine that to me tastes somewhat similar to the Swedish glögg, so when I had glögg for the first time I couldn't help but be taken back to my hometown and mi gente.
(2) Anís Confite or Anís del Mono: this is an star anise liquor. It doesn't taste like alcohol right away, but sweet and like, well, anise ...but they say that this gives you a hell of a hangover if not drunk with moderation.
(3) Ponche Crema de Oro: I hated it! it's like a rum eggnog...ugh. It tasted bitter the few times my parents let me have an alcoholic drink when I was a child, but Dominicans love it.Related to:
- Food and Dining
Una cerveza, por favor
Dominicans love a good cold beer. We have 2 sort of icon national brands that we brew: Presidente (read my tip about it on my Santo Domingo page) and Bohemia. The newest additions are a dark lager beer called Ámbar and the most recent one called The One. Two non-alcoholic beers with a sweet flavor that's been around for years are Malta India and Malta Morena.
You can also find a lot of international beer brands there but those cost more than the local ones. The ones I remember seeing are Corona, San Miguel, Beck's, Heineken (brewed in the country under license) Guinness and Miller.
The picture of the Bohemia beer is taken from their website (found on the link below) and the Maltas are googled.
Tips are always included in the bills. It's called 10% legal, so you don't have to feel obligated to (double) tip if you don't want to. However, if you do want to tip, you can always round up the bill or tip 10%-15% of the bill if the service was good. Don't leave coins unless they're Dominican currency because they can't be exchanged for Dominican money.
You can give maids, bell boys, etc. up to 5US$ if you want to tip them.
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