Before shutting down completely over the holiday period, I thought I’d write a post that is less about place, more about mood and approach to life. For me, workwise, 2012 was very focussed on the Dominican Republic, with a total of 7 weeks travelling round the beautiful island (yes it is, despite public misconceptions based on the much publicised all-inclusives). And that brought some memorable images of an attitude to life that has nothing to do with wealth, success or celebrity.
For between the coconut groves, clapboard houses, lush hills and blinding white beaches it’s the people who seduce. Boys as above do somersaults just for kicks not tips. Out in small towns, the meeting point for shooting the breeze, playing dominoes, having a beer and sharing a bottle of rum is the colmado, basically the grocery store.
This Dominican version of a pub or tapas bar is where locals (mainly men, I have to say) congregate at all times of day and evening; by the weekend the larger ones become village nightclubs, pumping music and magnetising motorbikes and sexily / scantily dressed girls. Car-washes, by the way, are something uniquely Dominican, as they DO wash cars during the day then at night metamorphose into dance floors. And ‘car-wash’ is the name they use – you see it everywhere.
Then there are the beach comedores, low-key eateries, where anyone can roll up and order a fabulously fresh seafood lunch, have a table placed where they like on the sand – then wait and wait – perhaps 40 minutes – before eating. Go with the flow.
With no real reason, simply hanging out, chillaxing, watching the world go by or contemplating the waves is another entrenched Caribbean habit.
That also becomes the siesta: above, on a sultry afternoon on the malecon of the capital, Santo Domingo, a mother dreams with her new-born baby, lulled by the waves. No hurry, no stress. Finally, even visitors learn how to do the same and achieve that extended rhythm – below, in a photo bordering on the kitsch, a couple sinks into a mesmerising sunset on the Bay of Samana. Contemplation takes over and time becomes infinite.
Happy Christmas to anyone who comes this way!