There are no all-inclusive hotels here. No powdery sand beaches . No mojitos with little umbrellas. No tourists in flowery print shirts. This is what the locals affectionately call the ’barrio’.
In English, we might, not so affectionately, call this place the ‘’hood’. It’s the place where the hotel workers, taxi cab drivers and all other employees of the tourist industry come after they have cooked, cleaned and driven during their working hours. This is the place they know as ‘Santo Domingo’.
Running water at home is a luxury and electricity is limited to not enough hours per day. As American tourists, we might refer to the ‘barrio’ as off-the-beaten path, a part of town to grab cheap eats or a place where one should hold her purse tightly and avoid wearing expensive jewelry. But despite continuous elements of danger, in the food or on the street and otherwise, there is something festive here. People laugh, talk and dance in the streets under the few and far between street lights. In the daytime, they sit at the ‘colmado’ (corner store) and exchange political points of view about countries they have never visited and will likely never see.
It doesn’t feel like a city, as we might know it, but instead it has the feeling of a small community, a term most Americans may never be able to grasp entirely. People share, carry the groceries of unrelated elders and argue with neighbors about trivialities only to wake up friends in the morning. Here in the barrio, life is hard yet easy at the same time. There is never enough money and too much time. So pull up your plastic patio chair, sit outside the corner store, have a Presidente (the local beer) and learn to love every minute of doing it.