Chelsea Johnson is a student at Middle Tennessee State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. Chelsea recently participated in service-learning with ISA Service-Learning in Santiago, Dominican Republic.
I wanted to share some of the interesting facts that I learned about the Dominican Republic during my time there!
Used Tissue in the Trash?
In the Dominican Republic, the sewage systems are really old and don’t function as well as they do in the States. My first couple of days here I put tissue in the toilet without knowing that I shouldn’t do that. I was then told that because the pipes clog up easily, you have to throw the used tissue in the trashcan. Weird, right?!?!
Toyotas Are The New Lambos
Here, most of the cars and conchos are Toyotas. I’m not sure why most people have this specific brand of car, but apparently they are very well made and very reliable. Almost every form of transportation in the Dominican Republic is a Toyota! I have seen car brands other than Toyota, but they are not as common. I just assume that you’re a cool kid if you have one of these.
The Gas Tank in Cars Is Missing
You may notice that your host family will stop for gas for the car and you might begin to wonder where the gas tank is. Another weird thing about the DR is that the gas tank in most of the cars is in the trunk of the car and not on the side like in the States. This is because the DR has switched from regular gas to diesel gas (also used in the stoves here). I also noticed that there are people who pump the gas for you, and when they do everyone has to get out of the car. I guess this is for safety reasons.
Currency Rate Exchange
The money here is beautiful! Every bill has a different face of a person who has influenced Dominican culture or made history, and the colors range from pinks and oranges to blues and greens. Also, the rate exchange in the Dominican Republic is 40 RD to 1 USD! Everything here is very inexpensive, but don’t go spending like crazy because it all adds up really fast. Take it from me! In 3 1/2 weeks, I have learned to do the conversion rate in my head. If it costs too much and I wouldn’t pay for it in the U.S, I won’t pay for it here, thus my newest skill of bargaining. Overall, I have enjoyed shopping here at one of the most familiar and popular stores called La Sirena. I would compare it to a mini Walmart because it has everything from food to clothes to household items!
Whew, That Stinks!
While Santiago is beautiful, the city kind of stinks to put it plainly. Along the main streets of Santiago, the dumpsters are filled to the brim and trash spills over onto the sidewalks and streets. Nine times out of 10, I’m walking in the street to avoid flies, trash, bugs and dogs that are scavenging for food. Now, with that said, this country is beautiful! However the trash compilation is a problem. Even though it doesn’t do the people any good, it sure keeps the dogs alive and kicking!