For many who leave the Dominican Republic, the ultimate goal of the journey they
embark on isn’t to find a new place to call home or new people to call family,
the ultimate goal, it could be said, isn’t to gain massive amounts of wealth or
to assimilate into a new culture. The fact of the matter is that, for the most
part, for those who get the opportunity to leave the Dominican Republic the
ultimate goal is always to come back. Even if coming back means returning in one
month or in ten years, most Dominicans leave the country looking for better
lives in other countries so that they can one day return to their birthplace and
lead better lives here. But for many this goal quickly becomes a dream.|
As time passes, increased comfort and adaptation to new surroundings, a
relationship, children, or job security make it increasingly difficult for many
to return, and many in fact end up staying abroad, only returning to the country
on family trips, and on occasional vacations. The dream of making some money
abroad in order to bring it back here is replaced by the reality that they have
new lives that can’t be easily abandoned.
Nonetheless, there are some Dominicans who hold on to that dream of eventually
returning, and a very lucky few do make it back as they had always planned. But
it is fair to say that for those who do return to the Dominican Republic after a
long hiatus, the country they find when they return is almost certainly not the
country they remember when they left. Adapting back to life in the DR after so
many years abroad can be easy for some, but equally as difficult for others.
Some returning Dominicans find it difficult to readjust to life in a “new”
country that lacks the comforts they used to enjoy in the United States or
Europe. The ease they once encountered in day-to-day life, for some, is replaced
with the realities of returning to life in a developing country.
Equally difficult is the transition faced by children who return to the country,
or come to live here for the first time, as they are faced with as many
challenges as their parents. The differences in things like language, dress,
musical tastes, food, clothing, etc, quickly become evident to children moving
here, and are obstacles to their smooth transition.
For people who move back to the Dominican Republic after being away for so many
years, the differences between the lives they used to lead, and the lives they
are now leading become apparent almost immediately. After the initial “high” of
making it back to their homeland wears off, the realities of the country they
now reside in appear to stare at them constantly. Something as simple as driving
to the supermarket can be eye-opening for new returnees.
The constant reconstruction of main roads in many cities, aimed at easing the
increased traffic problems, can make returnees feel lost and frustrated in their
new cities, after being able to navigate so easily in their previous hometowns.
Alongside the concern of navigation is the somewhat chaotic and anarchic fashion
in which people drive in the Dominican Republic. After being accustomed to
people actually stopping at red lights and intersections, and having people turn
on blinkers to make left or right turns, some returnees fear getting behind the
wheel because they are not immediately ready to take such a risk on the
Other differences in lifestyle can sometimes lead many Dominicans to reminisce
about the lives they once lived. When the power goes out, the first thought in
the minds of many returnees is that something like that would have never
happened if they were in the United States, or Europe. Even those who have power
inverters or other light sources, sometimes find themselves thinking back to how
if they ever had a problem with the power they could just call the power
company, and within a reasonable amount of time the problem would be resolved.
The inefficiencies of public offices and public services also highlight the vast
differences between living here and abroad. While many returnees have complained
on a variety of occasions about the bureaucracy that slows down the public
offices in their previous countries, once they have lived in the Dominican
Republic for a short time they reminisce fondly about the comparatively short
lines at the social security or unemployment offices, and lament the fact that
there are no social security offices or unemployment offices in this country.
Many returnees become frustrated at the fact that simple processes like waiting
for a lawyer’s note or a doctor’s appointment can become all day waiting
marathons, after waiting only minutes while living abroad.