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Wednesday, 27 June 2018

In Isle Four ...

Dominican Republic

… Palm Trees and Squalor

By Justin T. Carreño
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic juxtaposes extravagance and squalor. Most visitors head straight to their all-inclusive "white-washed," clean, beautiful, albeit, generic Caribbean beach resorts owned primarily by Americanos, isolated and sheltered from the reality of the poverty and pollution that plagues this third-world state.
I enjoy immersing myself in the culture, language, and people of countries I visit, I skipped the beaches, and went straight to the capital, Santo Domingo, and surrounding areas.
We were greeted by a crumbling infrastructure, security personnel guarding establishments with sawed-off shot guns, and streets lined with trash.
Third-world countries often share similar traits, including such things as fresh foods and friendly people, but also rampant corruption, which I experienced first-hand when I was pulled over by a representative of the National Police for no reason, given a shakedown, wherein he politely asked me to empty my wallet.
This sounds bad and is sad, but what's worse is that their neighbors in Haiti flee their country, mostly crossing the border illegally, to find "opportunity" and a better life in the DR. They end up living in squalor -- but maybe a better squalor?

Fascinating, eye-opening trip, but I don't think I'll find myself going back anytime soon.
What I did think was interesting is that in every store of the DR's national grocery store chain, Super Mercado Nacional, opera music was playing, so you walk out with Pavarotti singing Nessun Dorma in your head. Adds a pleasant contrast to the walk home through
the filth.
Justin T. Carreño is a writer based in Washington.