Monday, October 29, 2012

Dominican Republic: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - Part 2

Time for part two of my three part series about the Dominican Republic.  Last time, I talked about the 'ugly' that pervades this country, whether it's racism, radical Christian judgment handed down by sinners and the holy alike or a general disreputable view of those less fortunate than others.  Today, however, I'm going to be talking about 'the bad'.

'The Bad' doesn't refer to generally awful things, but rather a general lack of common sense and pervasive ignorance that seems to envelop the majority of people here.  I don't mean to be rude, but the lack of common sense is everywhere.  Let's start with cleaning.

People here get paid on the 15th and the 30th of the month and on those days, since people don't make a whole lot of money here, they tend to go to the grocery stores to buy what they need.  So at 5 o'clock on the 15th, just after everyone has been paid and gotten off work and are at the grocery store, that seems to be the best time to take out the giant floor waxing machine and clean the floors.  It's packed in there, you can barely maneuver your shopping cart and there's some moron trying to clean the floor with a machine that's almost too large to fit down the aisles. So now I'm dodging not only people and shopping carts, but a giant machine that's unnecessary.  It's frustrating.

Along with that, we live near the public university where there's quite a few students.  EAch morning as I head to work, hundreds of students use the metro to get to school.  At that time, people working in the metro deem it necessary to close off one whole side of the stairwell to mop, as hundreds of people are going up and down.  Seriously? You can't mop BEFORE the metro opens officially or the night before?

There's a pervasive laziness about the country.  I don't want to, but I'll use where I work to illustrate.  There are two bathrooms for adults, one has two stalls, the other has a stall and a urinal.  That makes 3 toilets and a urinal.  For the past three and a half weeks, 2 of those toilets have been broken with no one even attempting to fix them.  In one case, the toilet had been used (and since it was broken, unable to be flushed) so instead of doing something about it, the crew responsible simply locked the door to the entire bathroom so the smell (which I imagine after 3 weeks would be pretty pungent) won't escape. Embarrassing.

Hmm, let's see.  Driving here has a me first attitude.  You can watch people stopped at a stoplight, and they'll be 30 cars deep (or more) and as soon as the light turns green, they start honking their horns expecting the people right in front of them to move and to be able to move.  It just looks like they don't understand how traffic works, that you can't move until the car in front of you moves and that car can't move until the car in front of them moves and so forth.

The cat calling.  That's fairly annoying, especially for someone like my wife who is Dominican and married a white guy (perhaps THE white guy) because she often gets called, not because of the shorts she's wearing or something similar (though that happens), but because they assume she's with me strictly for a US visa.  That's really infuriating and I can't stand it that just assume that a Dominican girl with a white guy is a) a hooker b) a mistress or c) a visa snatcher.

What else can I say? In truth, there's many other bad things, but that can honestly be said of any country.  Every place has its pros and cons, but often times when you live in a culture that's not your own, the cons tend to hit you harder than the pros and you can find yourself dwelling on all things you despise about a place.  That's why, in next week's post, I've saved 'The Good' part of living in the Dominican Republic because....it's the Caribbean! It sure beats northern Canada!

So, Dear Readers, tune in next week for our continuing story: "Dominican Republic: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly".


Monday, October 22, 2012

Dominican Republic: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I've lived in the Dominican Republic longer than I have anywhere else outside the US. I've spent a fair amount of time in Russia, but so far the Dom. Republic wins and I'll be here longer yet.  So here goes my comprehensive thoughts on the country and living here: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Let's start with the ugly, to get the worst of the worst out of the way so far.  I'll save the good for last so as to end on a happy note.  Here goes.

The Ugly - There's a fair amount in this country that one could consider "ugly" whether it's racism against the dark skinned from the upper echelon of society; racism against the Haitians from virtually everyone from the Dominican Republic or just the general perception of the poor in general.

I've seen and heard racism towards the lower classes and towards Haitians on many occasions.  One perfect example was, while I was getting my hair cut (side note: I usually go to a slightly more expensive barbershop where they are used to straighter [read: a white person's] hair such as myself) when I overheard a small boy telling the barber how he likes to play baseball.  The barber (this shop caters to the 'higher-ups' of Dominican society) replied that the boy shouldn't play baseball because it is a game for "black people".  Astonishing.

Haitians are often the butt of jokes here (much the way, sadly, Mexicans and gay people are in Eastern Washington) and seriously looked down upon. They're akin to the 'mudbloods' of the Harry Potter universe, being dirty, unworthy of much at all and incurring God's wrath for being heathens.  They are recruited for the worst jobs and often times stiffed on the pay and wages they were promised.  It's disgusting.

Another very 'ugly' part of life here is the complete ignorance in many aspects of life.  A few weeks ago, outside of a club where a heavy metal band had just played, one of the members was stabbed to death (40 some odd times). Why? Because a girl outside the club had thought he was the man who had 'supposedly' raped her, so she had her friends murder him on the spot. Afterwards...she said it wasn't him and her and her friends left, unhindered. To make matters worse, a police station is located right next door to the club and not a thing was done by the police.  Then to make matters EVEN worse, it was spread (and I mean SPREAD) everywhere that this happened to the young murdered man (who didn't even live in the country and had just signed to a US record label) because he played the Devil's music and he deserved it.  He DESERVED to be stabbed multiple times and murdered because of the type of music he chose to play.  Unbelievable, truly. What has happened to the girl and her friends who so brutally murdered this young man? Nothing.  And as if all THAT wasn't enough, during his funeral service here in the country, the press interrupted the entire funeral service to pester the grief-stricken mother about whether her son was a devil-worshipping sodomite who deserved what he got.

All this from the only country in the world to bear the Bible upon it's flag.

So Dear Readers, this concludes the 'ugly' of living in the Dominican Republic, though I'm sure I've not even scratched the surface of this horrible idea....