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Thread: LADIES ONLY! And Now A Few Words From Meemselle....because one word is never enough

  1. #761
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    A new one, ladies. And this time, Dominican-centric. Enjoix!

    Take Me For A Ride In Your Gua-Gua
    Posted on January 16, 2019 by meemselle

    While the concept of the gua-gua is not unique to the Dominican Republic, there are characteristics that imprint this widely-used and idiosyncratic means of public transportation with a distinctly Dominican twist.

    The gua-gua, for the uninitiated, is a large van, typically with 3-4 rows of seats, that functions as a sort of privately run local bus. The route that goes through Sosúa runs from Puerto Plata to Rio San Juan. Fares are very inexpensive: the rate from Sosúa to Cabarete is 30 pesos, about 59 cents US. You stand on the side of the street, and when you see one coming, you point your index finger to the ground a couple of times and they come to a rather rolling stop. The side door slides open and the cobrador (a conductor of sorts) lets you in and tells you where to sit.

    Telling you where to sit is a very important job, as gua-guas, in order to make as much money as possible (which, do admit, is not easy at 30 pesos a pop) need to extract every last scrap of space. In a bench seat that comfortably sits four, you may find yourself one of six. There is also a heavy cardboard thing that they slide in so that the space between a bench seat and a single seat is converted into an extra seat. The front seat with the driver may include up to four people. Every space is utilized as a place to park your assets, including the ledge behind the front seats. We’re talking as many as 26 people crammed into a vehicle meant for 12. I was once in the very back row of seats on a gua-gua that was so crowded that the cobrador had to come around and haul us over the seat and out the back door. Let’s just say I was grateful not to be wearing a short skirt.

    Only once have I seen a gua-gua not stop because it was too full.

    Air-conditioning is typically one small window. Or if you have a kind cobrador, he might leave the side door open a bit.

    When I first came to live here, I told myself I was going to maintain a modicum of creature-comfort integrity and I would never take a gua-gua. However, once I figured out how much less expensive they are over taxis—and once I got over myself a little bit—I have become a gua-gua devotee.

    I took a gua-gua to Cabarete yesterday, and I was musing to myself that I have never been directed to the front seat. Maybe it’s reserved only for Dominicans.

    And then lo and behold, I was directed to the front seat. I felt this to be confirmation of my status as a Dominicana-In-Training.

    Not only was I in the front seat, Darlinos, I was in the front seat with only one other person besides the driver.

    This was a major score.

    In carritos, regular smallish sedans that are a slightly more luxurious ride, you can pay for the two seats in the front so you’re not smushed. I don’t think you can do this on a gua-gua. Let’s just say I wouldn’t risk the social censure of asking for this privilege.

    I had a window. I could see the road. And I could breathe in and out and my arms rested comfortably in my lap, as opposed to typical riding posture of hoisting up the shoulders and scrunching the arms in between my legs, while clutching my bag and simultaneously attempting to maneuver a handkerchief to mop the sweat trick trickling from my brow down to the poitrine.

    A Few Words about Dominicans and gua-guas: it’s considered polite to wish everyone buen día, more likely contracted to just buenas, and everyone on the gua-gua responds buenas, so that it sounds like a traveling 12-step meeting.

    The other thing to note—and this is a mercy—Dominicans don’t smell. Despite being packed like sardines into a non-air conditioned space in 80+ heat, they don’t even appear to sweat. In fact, the only smelly people I have ever encountered in my gua-gua adventures have been gringos.

    So I’m chalking yesterday’s gua-gua ride up as a major step in my status as a Dominican. I know I’m investing this with far more significance than it truly merits, but such small daily victories are few and far between, so celebrate with me. And when you come to visit, I will take you for a gua-gua ride!

  2. Likes Chirimoya, AlterEgo, Matilda, sylindr, Jelly and 1 others liked this post
  3. #762
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    Definitely earns you a few aplatanation points!
    Moderator East Coast Forum

  4. Likes Matilda, Meemselle liked this post
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