A wise man once told me, when I was tending bar at his establishment, that if, every time I asked the question ‘why’ about life down here I put a peso in a jar, I would end up a very rich woman. Not that I didn’t already know, after so many years living la vida loca, that there often isn’t any discernable logic to life here in the DR – I did. Still, it was a good reminder. And you know – I wish I’d followed his advice.
So, let’s talk about some of these things that often seem so illogical to us expats and tourists. When you first come here it all seems so quirky and charming. You eat it up. Look at me in this strange new world. Not long down the road, it starts to eat you up. No matter how acclimatized or ‘aplatanado’ you think you are, you are going to find yourself asking why a number of times a day.
Why is that moto/car coming the wrong way down this one way street?
Why did he just give me a dirty look when he was going the wrong way?
Why does everybody only drive at night with high beams?
Why is he passing on this hill/curve?
Why does buying two 20oz bags of something end up costing me less than the 32oz bag?
Why is this guy passing me on the right when I’m signaling a right hand turn?
Why did my motoconcho tell me he knew where I wanted to go when clearly he doesn’t and I am now on a Puerto Plata city tour?
Why is the driver of my carro/guagua trying to fit one extra person (or two) into a vehicle where we are already sitting on each other’s laps?
Why doesn’t my mechanic do any work on my car unless I’m standing right there?
Why doesn’t my mechanic actually have any of the tools necessary to work on my car?
Why does it take a minimum of three people for me to purchase a PVC elbow joint at the ferreteria?
Why does my plumber need me to buy him a new can of PVC cement every time he comes to fix the pipes?
Why doesn’t mañana actually mean tomorrow?
Why, if they can give me candies or chiclets as change, can’t I use them to purchase something from them?
Why can’t anybody be on time?
Why doesn’t my motoconcho driver ever have any change?
Why when I ask for a hamburger do I always get a cheeseburger?
Why did the bag boy just pack my loaf of bread under my bag of dog food?
Why did the cashier just throw my carefully chosen tomatoes down the counter like they are bowling balls?
Well you get the picture. It goes on endlessly. Really it does.
The good news is that once you realize you will never truly know the answer to the question why in the Dominican Republic, well, life gets easier. You’ll still ask. You’ll probably never stop asking. But then you’ll just shake your head, have a private laugh and say what we all say – Only in the Dominican Republic! And when you go to Happy Hour you’ll have a heck of a story to tell!
Now pardon me while I go put a peso or two in a jar.