of the Dominican Republic
located on the island
in the Carribean
. The full name of the city is Santo Domingo de Guzmán
and it is the oldest city
in the New World
with a history
of over 500 years. During part of the reign of terror
by the dictator Rafael Molino Trujillo
, who ruled the country from 1930 to 1961, the city was called Ciudad Trujillo.
Evidence of the city's long history can be seen at every street corner and even in the language
of the people. Rather than list the tourist
centers of attraction, I would rather give here a personal memoir
of my impressions while living there. First, of course, is the impression of extreme poverty
on every side.
If you blindfolded me and set me down in the center of the city, I could guess it was Santo Domingo only from the sound of motores
or motor scooters
, the most common mode of transportation other than walking. For a few centavos
you could hitch a ride on the back of the scooter, clinging to the back of the driver. A step up in price is the público
where you could squeeze in the back of a private car
along with six or seven other people. Usually you could count on a trip from point A to point B, but if the car was not full, the driver could decide to push everyone out and begin his return trip.
The next impression I have is the recurring blackouts
. Most private homes and the stores downtown had plantas
.We had no generator
and had to rely on oil lamps
most of the time. Even as a school teacher, I could afford to hire one person whose only job was to be certain that there was oil
in lamps and that the wicks
were trimmed. It was almost a law in the area where I lived that when there was electricity
there would be no water
in the pipes for the pump to move to the cistern
on the roof. Of course, when there was water in the pipes, there was no electricity
to operate the pump.
It follows that a shower
could be very tricky. It was customary to wash
only one part the body
and then rise
before moving to the next part. The first morning on the job
, I had to go to work
with dry soap suds in my hair
. Speaking of work, gainful employment
is necessarily scarce. Employers
pay little and demand much. I was expected to be at school around 6:30am and it was not unusual for me to stay until 7:00pm in the evening.
To be continued (I hope)!