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Volunteering in the Dominican Republic - Part 3

Transportation in the Dominican Republic

Never before have I been in a car going nearly 80 km on the wrong side of the highway crossing a bridge into oncoming traffic. I was frozen with fear, completely white and flabbergasted that no one else shared my state of panic as cars narrowly passed us. My fellow passengers bantered casually over each other, oblivious that we could die at any moment. They laughed at me when I said that this doesn´t normally happen in Canada.

It took awhile for me to get used to the transportation here in the Dominican Republic. I still refuse to drive Transportation in the Dominican RepublicTransportation in the Dominican Republichere, afraid that my inexperience will end in someone's death. Seriously, motorcycle drivers weave and follow traffic really closely. I find it scary. Although, I can honestly say that I have not seen a motorcycle accident yet. Knock on wood...

Dominicans love their car horn. They have developed a new language depending on the length and pulse of their horn. You can tell if someone is just saying "Hi, I'm here" or "Get moving ·$%&"%$!." I joke about how they should write "Ha! Ha!" on the stop signs as people just honk their horn as they approach intersections and confidently head on through. In most spots along the highways, there are no speed limits. Although on some older roads, people stop to avoid large potholes. Often loudly cursing after they bottom out, the whole car erupting in sympathy for the driver and the car.

While being here, I have regularly jumped on the back of broken down motorcycles called a motoconchos, while I headed up a steep mountain without a helmet with a man whose smile revealed several missing teeth. I have seen entire families on one motoconcho including mothers holding infant babies. A motoconcho ride costs 15 pesos and a possibly a little more depending on length of travel.

I have been squished into many publicos (public cars), carrying four people in the back and two in one front seat. I have unfortunately landed the worst seat in the publico several times, the one by the stick shift. Many unapologetic hands have touched my leg while reaching for the stick shift. It is also hot here so sharing sweat is a common occurrence.

Only take a publico that has a yellow or green roof with a triangle sticker on the side. Never go in a publico at night and if a Dominican person doesn´t get into the publico, you should take that as a sign that you shouldn´t either. A publico ride costs about 12 to 15 pesos.

People travel also in guaguas, which range in quality and price. I have had my own seat in an air-conditioned minibus for 30 pesos. Alternatively, I have also had to share my seat with an oversized man holding two live chickens in a vehicle with holes in the bottom and no door for 15 pesos.

I have been playing with the idea lately of getting a car. I miss having the freedom that driving provides even though traveling by taxi is so cheap and fairly safe.

However, if I get my own car, I will really miss the greetings and conversations in broken Spanish with the kind people I meet on my journeys. I will miss the loud Dominican merengue music that blares in most vehicles, my fun stories of travelling here and also the triumphant feeling I feel when I get to my destination having navigated this city all on my own.

About Kelly McIntyre

Kelly holds a Masters Degree in Counselling and has nearly ten years professional experience working directly with individuals to facilitate action toward their employment and life goals. In 2007, Kelly faced her deepest fears, developed new personal truths and followed her dreams of living in the sun and moved to the Caribbean! Now as a Career/Life Coach, Kelly applies her knowledge of how to create a life you love at Discover Your Life Purpose.  

More of Kelly:

Read Part 1 ~ Creating a travel plan

Read Part 3 ~ Transportaion in the Domincan Republic

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