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There’s no turning back: 21 final things you need to know about the DR
So you've weathered the storm, literally, and now you're back for more. Head bruising traffic jams, pelo malo and bad dieting tips aren't enough to keep you away, and now, on your third trip to the DR, you've decided to stay. No more two-week visits and cheap motels, you've talked to your accountant, said good-bye to Mama, and packed up all your belongings. Now you are ready for real Caribbean living. We can see it now, you on the beach with a margarita in one hand and your sweet honey in the other, but wait… at last, here are the final 21 things you need to know before coming to the DR. You might consider yourself an expert on the DR, but we can guarantee you didn't see these 21 things coming.

1) Love Bureaucracy? Come to the DR
Don't we all love bureaucracy? Waiting in long lines at overcrowded, understaffed government offices with no AC and no sign of help on the way, only to find when it's your turn that you've been standing in the wrong line... AT THE WRONG PUBLIC OFFICE! Yeah, we all love that. The other day went to get my cedula and birth certificate, stood in line so long that by the time I got to an attendant I had been married twice, had two kids, a shot of botox (to combat the stress!) and then I realized my kid (who I declared late because I was stuck in line that whole time) needed a birth certificate! Who needs a cedula anyway, I'm moving to a cave in Barahona!

2) Dominicans have a million names
By tradition Dominicans have many names, usually around four and maybe even five. This would seem useless for the typical John Smith, but at last, a Dominicanism that makes sense! It could get confusing to have so many names, so this is why so many Dominicans have nicknames. It'd be impossible to remember the name Juan Jose Sanchez de la Cruz y Duarte, so you just call him Cuco. And on a related note, what's the deal with Dominican nicknames Cuco, Cuca, Cuqui, Tata, Quique, Quiquo, Queque, Quiqua, Quaqui? Was the director of the civil registry a two-syllable stutterer who couldn't pronounce things correctly? Or the creative nicknames up for consideration "El Chino" (Chinese), "El Negro" (Black), "Moreno" (Dark) "El Prieto" (real Black), "El Gordo" (Fat), and "El Flaco" (Skinny)!

3) Everybody in the DR is related
No, we are not implying that the DR is an incestuous place, well ok, maybe just a little bit. But most Dominicans, one way or another, are related, or at least know each other's families. The country is fairly small and from what we've heard there wasn't much to do in the campos back in the day. No power, no internet, no playstation. I mean the fact that there are about four million people in the DR named Sanchez, Rodriguez, Ramirez, Fernandez, and Estevez isn't just a happy coincidence. Maybe the guy who was giving out last names had writer's block and gave everybody the same name. Well, just be lucky you are a foreigner with the name Smith because you might just have ended up taking your third cousin, Maria, out on a date.

4) Joke of the Day:
Q: Why won't you ever see a Dominican in the NHL?
A: ‘Cause at every whistle he'd be on the ice making Frio Frio...

Just imagine that conversation; "Hey, Jose, come here and look at all this free ice, all we need now is some red Gatorade!"

5) Everything in the DR has an acronym
You've arrived in the DR. You leave AILA and stop by the ITLA but decided you'd rather study at APEC. After a few days you go down to the DGA to pick up some stuff your mom sent you, but then you were sent to DGII to pay taxes on that stuff. On your way to DGII you decided to stop by SEDEFIR where you picked up your buddy and took him to the JCE. On the way to the JCE you were stopped by an AMET who called over an official from the DNCD. The DNCD official became suspicious of you and called over an officer from the DNI. The official repossesses your car, you get arrested, and your buddy has to take an OMSA home. First, you were LOL now you are S.O.L. Moral of the story: learn your acronyms and don't do drugs.

6) Make up your own rules; because Dominicans do!
Living in the DR is fun because every day is an adventure. Better yet, living in the DR is like living in a "box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get". Rules here change daily and the fun part of it is that you can change them at will. See those signs that say "No U-turns," those are for decoration. Just like the ones that say "One-Way" and "No Parking on Sidewalks." Constitutional clause 175-05 reads as follow: Rules are only to be adhered to if you feel like following them that day." Such a progressive society. Last week I stole the cookie from the cookie jar! Who, me? Yes, me! And I got a medal for it. I love this country.

7) The million uses of the word "loco"
Ok, so there aren't a million uses for this word, but Dominicans, especially young people, love using this word. The word "loco" which directly translates to "crazy," has a variety of meanings in the DR, depending on context and intonation by the speaker. Loco could mean dude, or you are crazy. It could mean guy or could mean insane. It could also mean that if one word has so many meanings, the Education Ministry needs to teach these kids more words. Anyone for new textbooks?

8) Dominican men don't wear shorts
Ever seen a Dominican man wear shorts? Seriously. Have you ever seen a Dominican wear shorts? If you said yes, you are lying, because that was probably a tourist with a really good tan! It's a rarity to see Dominican men wearing shorts, as if it were outlawed by the Dominican Constitution. It could be 110 degrees with humidity and no power on the whole island and you will probably see most Dominican men in their long pants and polo shirts, NOT SWEATING! Unbelievable!

9) Calling all animals
Learn enough Spanish and hang around Dominicans long enough and you'll notice they, for some apparent reason, refer to each other as animals. It's like cable is a new thing for Dominicans and the only thing that antennas are able to get is Animal Planet and National Geographic. "Ese tipo e un leon", "Dime a ve caballo", "esa tipa ta como una vaca!" or "mira ese grillo," are among the many animal related phrases used by Dominicans to describe each other. Well, this horse is going to get some water.

10) Dominicans like to talk
If you didn't know, you'll find out soon enough, that Dominicans love to talk. And we mean LOVE. Don't be afraid of this, its natural. For those of you from the US, especially New York, these quick dialogues are called conversations. Say it with me: con-ver-sa-tions. It's funny, step onto a NYC subway car and you can hear a pin drop, step onto a Dominican OMSA and you have the shoe-shine boy talking to the hairdresser about the fact that it's such a hot day, and how the government should do something about the weather, and they don't even know each other! Dominicans, in whatever setting, will find a topic to discuss, so read up on the news so you can have something to talk about.

11) A poem: "You don't have power, but you have the Metro."
You might not have a lot of things in this country: You might not have clean water, you might not have cheap food, you might not have cheap clothing, or cheap hookers, but at least you have the Metro. You might have starvation, you might have illiteracy, you might have Jaguar dealerships and expensive Jeepetas, and you also have the Metro. You might not have good public transport, you might have large public debt, you might not have healthcare, but who cares, you, my friend, have the Metro.

12) Dominicans and voicemail
Dominicans and voicemail go together like Louis Farrakhan and David Duke. If you ever want a Dominican to return a phone call, or an e-mail, just tell ‘em you owe them money, that'll get them hook, line and sinker.
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