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Volunteering in the Dominican Republic Part 5 - The Sounds and Sights in Zona Colonial

Read Part 1 - Create your own or go with an organization?

Read Part 2 - The Children

Read Part 3 - Transportation in the Dominican Republic

Read Part 4 - Volunteering in the Dominican Republic

I spend a lot of time in Zona Colonial now that I am living in this area. Every day I hear the familiar sounds filtered up off the street. Music regularly plays from the colmado (a small convenience store) and from speakers of parked cars.

Regularly, men slowly drive in little pick up trucks, announcing over loud speakers that they will buy old Santo DomingoSanto Domingoelectrical equipment or anything unwanted or broken and then negotiate and haul the product away. Sometimes they sing these announcements and it always makes me laugh.

My favorite is hearing men yelling that they are selling vegetables, usually avocados - aguacate in spanish. (I usually repeat aloud, mimicking their tone - Aguacate.) And then seeing women lowering and lifting buckets into the street after they have negotiated from their balconies the price of the fresh produce. The simplicity is inspiring and soothing.

When I leave my apartment, I am immersed in the culture. The housing is constructed so that many front doors open directly onto the sidewalk so when you walk by, you can see clear through their entire main floor and out onto an opened back garden.  

Dominicans are very friendly, welcoming and very helpful if you need assistance. Many people don't have a lot of extra money but they're generous. People help with stalled cars, giving money for carfare and give money to people begging on the street.

Men here can be flirtatious and have several methods of expressing their appreciation of beauty so if you're walking down the street in Zona Colonial and being hissed at and kisses blown at you, know that this is usually harmless. I have hissed back a couple of times and shared in some good laughs but normally I just ignore it. 

Dominican Republic has a high literacy rate and many people study English, practicing their skills on tourists. If you are arriving via tour bus or cruise ship , you'll llikely find yourself walking down the street named El Conde in Zona Colonial. This is the most popular street in the zone as it's closed off to motor vehicles. There are many tour guides on the street offering to show you the popular sites for $15-25US per person.

If you're staying in a hotel in Zona Colonial, a hotel tour guide costs between $40-55US per person. This site has a good description of a self-directed walking tour: EscapeArtist.com

Don't pass up the fresh fruit stands. I have two favorites and both are located on the street Noell, one street over from El Conde. For 25 pesos you can drink coconut milk straight from the coconut and for 30 pesos (a little less than a dollar) you can have a large container of fresh fruit containing mango, pineapple, banana and melon. 

Most Dominicans seek out the shade when walking. It's common to see a line of people waiting for public transportation hiding in the slim shadow of a telephone pole. You can see people hiding from the sun when you're walking down El Conde, the locals walk along the edges of the street and the tourists usually walk down the centre catching the sun.

When you visit Zona Colonial take in as many sights and sounds as you can. It's truly a rich, rich experience.

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! Her website http://www.transitioncounselling.com/ and blog will provide additional information about her and how she can help you move forward in your own life!

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Hi, Kelly: Cool travel stories. Very informative one on the Dominican Republic. Thanks again for your great blog -- and happy travels! Cheers,

I have been reading your work and I find it very intresting. I love this kind of work because it let see us just as we are. Thank you for your visite to our country. Samuel Santana Journalist

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