Another Week in Monte Cristi!

Submitted by eagle on Mon, 11/18/2019 - 13:42

It's interesting to see the commonalities, and differences, among people in different places. e.g. same family structure in different ecologies/climates, yet different trees, etc.

When I first pronounced "Canada" in Spanish, I placed the emphasis on the first syllable, as in English. I recall being corrected, that it has an accent on the last syllable. Here in Republica Dominicana, I've been corrected for pronouncing it with the emphasis on the last syllable. I just looked it up and it shows with an accent on the last syllable, so I'm not sure if there's some uncommon regional pronunciation here, or what.

People in Republica Dominicana have warned me against going to Haiti, often saying that Haitians are bad people, will kill me, etc. (in one case even saying they'll eat me "como vaca," like a cow).

Dominicans have a historical grudge against Haitians, who invaded a few hundred years ago. However, Haiti does have serious violence.

Protests near the U.S. Embassy, I've also read that foreigners are targets of Haitians.

Shortages of basics like water and food.

Shuttered banks and other businesses.

Burning barricades, roadblocks.

Rock-throwing, shooting, kidnapping.

Dangerous neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince apparently include Bel Air, Carrefour, Cité Soleil and Martissant.

Downtown dangerous, public transportation dangerous, night dangerous, border area dangerous, periods before special events dangerous, ATMs dangerous, etc. Seems like a dangerous country!

Petion-Ville has numerous armed robberies.

Also along Route Nationale 2, Petit-Goave to Miragoane.

It sounds like a poor country in a poor situation. I'm not really looking for that, but I do still want to see some of Haiti. At least a small amount.

Looks like 90 days in Haiti is legitimate without any visa extension.

$10 cash entry fee. Like a nightclub.

It's been a while since I've been sick here in Republica Dominicana. I therefore suspect it was just some initial travelers' illness from various local foods I ate, which my body has now adapted to.

Interesting. A disease I'd never heard of, chikungunya, is a virus that can cause long-lasting fever and joint pain. I wonder if I've ever had this, chalking it up to the weather?

Not much in the way of medical care in Haiti. Don't get sick!

Sounds like a poor African country, which in many ways it is.

Apparently boiling water is the best way to disinfect it. Convenient to know!

Reading government travel advisories is kind of funny. I think I've violated pretty much every rule! Seems like their advice would make for boring travel.

Haitian currency is the gourde.

Haiti also has Haitian dollars. Annoying when countries have two currencies. Five gourdes equals one Haitian dollar.

Bank cards should work in Haiti, when the ATMs work.

My main concern is the violence, both the systemic Haitian violence and the situation with the political turmoil. I still plan to see at least a small part of the country, and maybe by when I get there it'll seem safer.

Haitian Creole seems like the main language of Haiti, more than French. I'm going to try learning some Creole, somewhat before going, and more when I'm there.

Seems harder than one may think, from French to learn Haitian Creole. Still, I think at least a basic sense is manageable.

Another weekend in Monte Cristi!

Warm, sunny weather.

Went for a walk. Found a bike shop, a few blocks north of the town center. The first I've seen in town. Maybe I'll go back there before leaving town, to pick up a replacement pump (mine is broken, only partly works), a lock (I lost mine), and some spare tubes (the bike I traded for uses a different size than my previous bike).

The bike repair I did previously seems to have worked. The tire still holds air!

Eagle's law: Every Latin song contains the word "corazon".

Also popular in Latin songs: "olvidar" (forget, as in "I can't forget you"), "amor", "cuerpo" (body), y mas.

Republica Dominicana, like Cuba, feels like a "real" country. It has mountains, deserts, forests, cities, towns, farms, and more. Not to say that other countries are in some sense fake or anything. Just that people often have a notion of what makes a country, e.g. different regions, large enough size & population, etc. These larger islands feel like mini-continents, countries in the sea. By contrast, Puerto Rico feels (to me, anyways) more like a state or province, while Bahamas and other smaller islands feel like towns or counties.

Puerto Rico has a neat & tidy culture, yet with passion. A somewhat uncommon combination, which makes for catchy music (like Ricky Martin, Menudo, Despacito, etc.). Also, tasty & convenient food.

Puerto Rico has a neat & tidy culture, yet with passion. A somewhat uncommon combination, which makes for catchy music (like Ricky Martin, Menudo, Despacito, etc.). Also, tasty & convenient food.

By contrast, Cuba & Republica Dominicana seem hearty in a rough & wild way. The latter makes for more adventures, I think.

After Haiti, I'm planning to see the southwestern part of Republica Dominicana. Then, head to other Caribbean islands, not sure yet exactly in which route.

There are positive & negative experiences. For anyone, at any stage. I think it's important to be able to handle both.

Vendors walking by selling something, I can't make out what. It sounds like "cora" or something when they yell. The product looks like some herb or something. I also see what looks like cacti.

It's funny to see the contrasts, such as modern cars or trucks next to horses on dirt roads.

I heard that motorcycles require a license available at age 18. However, I see many people way younger than that riding. Some look no older than ten or so.

Republica Dominicana seems to be developing rapidly. As with some other countries, it seems that the adult generation had quite traditional agricultural conditions in large part, while the younger generations have in many senses modern conditions. By contrast, countries like the US seem to have developed a while ago, such that adults already had fairly modern conditions.

It's important to deal with uncertainty. Something that I think doesn't come easily to me. I've read that this ability improves with age, and I think that I'm getting better at it. Also seems more important during travel.

You can do a lot with not much.

In Republica Dominicana, chicken seems more common than pork or beef. Seafood is common on the coasts, and around larger lakes. Goat seems like a regional dish. They seem to make pork tastier here.

It's extra hard in a different culture to gauge when should arrive or go places. It seems to me like Dominicans consider it more normal than in North America to hang out for a while, e.g. a few hours.

A number of occasions recently, I've tried to work on the weekends, but wound up with so many distractions, other things to do, that work doesn't happen. I often then feel better, so I think that it's important to take weekends off!

Woke up early.

Monte Cristi strikes me as one of the most comfortable, middle-class towns I've seen in Republica Dominicana. People drive somewhat nicer vehicles than average, it has a nice location, etc.

More rain last night.

Back to work!

Monte Cristi, Republica Dominicana