We’ve been away to the Dominican Republic this week. Spent most of our time in a small town called Moca.
Let’s get one thing straight right away. You know that stereotype in movies that show a Spanish village, either 100 years ago or today, and there’s always Spanish music playing, along with a festive atmosphere? That stereotype exists because it is 100% true. The music for the most part stops around midnight, but by 7:40 the next morning, it’s going strong. From midnight until 7:40, the roosters take over.
That reminds me of when I was a little kid in Puerto Rico, I was attacked by a chicken. Guess what our family had for dinner that night? That’s the last time that chicken would peck at a Pippa. Obviously, 49 years later, they want revenge.
Back to the music. The other day the Soundtrack from the movie The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly was coming through the windows. Was I actually IN a movie? A lot of the locals do look like Eli Wallach. Good thing the Stereotype Police were taking a nap.
Speaking of the police, if you’re a foreigner, don’t look the police in the eye when you drive by them. Otherwise, they’ll try to flag you down to get money from you. They are SO cute.
A more interesting way that money is taken from you is when you first fly in. You have to pay $10.00 for a Tourist Card. This is a card the size of a credit card, and looks like the kind of card you have with you to prove you’re a tourist. Maybe something more convenient than having to carry the passport around with you, right? Wrong. After you pay the ten dollars, you walk thirty feet, give it to another customs agent who keeps the card and lets you in the country. That’s the last you ever see the card. I must say, if someone is going to rob you, at least it’s much less stressful than the traditional machete pressed against your neck. But ultimately, the same outcome. Just safer.
More on safety. Driving in the Dominican Republic is very exciting. Imagine New York City traffic, but without law enforcement. Police officers abound, yet they are busy trying to make eye contact with tourists. There are stop signs, but I don’t understand why they are there. Decoration?
Motorcycles are everywhere, a cheap mode of transportation, and a way to make a living for many. It’s not unusual to see whole families on one motorcycle, children, infants, everybody. They can also be used to transport washing machines, furniture, and other motorcycles.
Also, they don’t call them siestas, but they do have them. And why? After eating the traditional HUGE and wonderful lunch, your body DEMANDS a nap. This also helps catch up on sleep deprivation from the music, motorcycles, sound cars (SANTOS SANTOS SANTOS!), and roosters.
The best Dominican story I’ve heard so far happened a couple of years ago in La Vega (that means “The Vega”). It seems some guys were driving around on their motorcycles and stealing goats. Before you label these men as criminal AND stupid, they would disguise their stolen cargo by wrapping the goats in a blanket like a baby (Remember, this is the Dominican Republic. Infants on motorcycles do not attract attention). Unfortunately, the goats heads were visible, causing numerous reports to the police of space-alien-babies invading the island.
Lesson learned? If you do see a space-alien-baby on a motorcycle, don’t make eye contact. It’s probably time for a nap anyway.