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

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

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    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!

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  3. #762
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    Definitely earns you a few aplatanation points!
    Moderator East Coast Forum


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    You can pay for the front seats at a guagua too if you want to be more comfy. I have a friend who often takes her dog to vet's appointments in a guagua, and she pays an extra seat so that they can be at the front alone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aguaita29 View Post
    You can pay for the front seats at a guagua too if you want to be more comfy. I have a friend who often takes her dog to vet's appointments in a guagua, and she pays an extra seat so that they can be at the front alone.
    Since when do they let dogs on gua-guas? They won't even stop for me when I have my dog. Chickens: yes. But dogs: no. "

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    Delightful read. Thanks.

    Lindsey

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    Default A new one: Dominican-centric!

    https://meemselle.wordpress.com/
    013119

    Steps

    We are not talking about movies, i.e., Hitchcock's masterpiece, "The 39 Steps."

    We are not talking about recovery, i.e., the Twelve Steps.

    Au contraire, Gentle Readers: we are talking about actual physical steps. Steps in the Dominican Republic. Like so much else in this country, they follow no rhyme nor reason, and are subject to a certain---shall we say---originality that Dominicans bring to so much of the physical infrastructure.

    I was in Santiago a couple of years ago, delivering papers to an attorney. I got out of taxi, instructing him to wait. The office was in a pretty nice part of Santiago, lots of businesses at street-level and fairly posh offices above. Clutching my manila envelope of legal papers, I approached the curb.

    When I say I "approached" the curb, I choose the word because the curb was a good 2 feet high. There was no sloping ramp or a side with shallower steps allowing easier access. I stood there and felt like an ant at the bottom of the Matterhorn. I believe I may have been wearing a narrow-ish skirt, but it wasn't even fashion that prohibited me from making that step. It seemed entirely possible that the air was thinner up there.

    I stood in the street, weighing my options. I didn't get too much option-weighing time, as several Dominican men made a beeline for me, as they tend to do when encountering a damsel in distress. Especially a gringa one with red hair in a narrow skirt.

    Before I could say the proverbial "Jack Robinson," there were hands on my ass and hands grabbing my wrists, and I was hoisted up onto the sidewalk. As this was an act of civic responsibility, the hands on my ass were respectful. There are levels of ass-touching here, and this was definitely in the category of helpful ass-grabbing. When you live here for a while, you learn to tell the difference.

    Recently, I visited a clinic in Puerto Plata. My physician's office is on the fourth floor. Normally, I am a stair-taker, as I figure it's free cardio, and if my knee is up to it, then I'm all for it.

    Let me just say this: the stairs in this clinic had to have been planned this way, because there is no way this could happen by accident. Perhaps it's to keep the ill and infirm segregated to the elevator, while the stairs are some kind of amusing exercise to keep the rest of us on our toes, as it were.

    Why do I say that? I have a Few Words about that, and I will share them with you right now. I say that because EVERY SINGLE STAIR is a different height. Some are as shallow as 3 inches. Some are as steep as 14 inches. A few are at what is a comfortable stair height of about 8 inches. But just a few. And not sequentially. I must say, it's a pretty good workout and it demands a great deal of concentration. Which may or may not be a good thing. I personally like my stairs predictable.

    The grade-A, number one winner for psychotic stairs, however, has to go to the wooden ones from the Waterfront restaurant to Playa Alicia. These follow the schizoid template, but have the additional zing of being made out of wood that is treated with some kind of resin, so there's the sensory input of the smell, and just when you thought it couldn't get better, some of the steps are of a different depth, necessitating planting your foot sideways. AND, the back of the stairs is open, so you can see the sand below, which further discombobulates your sensory perception. And the handrail has splinters.

    This is one of the reasons I seldom go to Playa Alicia.

    Yes, I know there are other steps, the ones coming down from the Jewish Colony Park. But they are basically a public urinal. Which is another possible blog topic...

    The Dominican Republic, in many ways, is a very easy, laid-back country. The weather is always good, the skies are blue, the ocean is warm, the beer is cold. The Dominican Republic, in many other ways, is an absolutely maddening place, where the water is undrinkable, the roads are horrific, the electricity is sketchy, the concept of customer service does not exist, and I'm willing to bet: building codes (if there are any) are not enforced.

    So just remember you heard it from me: watch your step!

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  12. #767
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    You ain't seen nothing yet. Went to husband's graduation, held in the basket ball arena in the Mao Olympic stadium. (I doubt you knew the Olympics had been held in Mao). The seats were concrete benches on steps. Each step was around 3 feet down or up. I have no idea how the Dominican ladies in their 8 inch heels manage to navigate them. I had on flat shoes and literally crawled down each step. Next day in the village, all of those who went to the ceremony were moving very slowly due to severe butt and leg pain from navigating those steps.

    Matilda


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  14. #768
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    Okay...can we go back to the fact that there is something called the Olympic Stadium in Mao? Come on ladies...fill a gal in!

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  16. #769
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jelly View Post
    Okay...can we go back to the fact that there is something called the Olympic Stadium in Mao? Come on ladies...fill a gal in!
    Here is a bit about it here. Proof!!
    https://centroleon.org.do/cl/noticia...s-vemos-en-mao

    Matilda


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  18. #770
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    A Few new Words for Monday. Enjoix!
    https://wordpress.com/post/meemselle.wordpress.com/2588
    021119

    Dominican Health Care: Revisited

    For reasons not to be discussed here, Darlinos, I have had the opportunity to revisit the Dominican health care system. I use the word “system” in with arched brows, because the definition of the word is “a set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network; a complex whole.”

    I don’t think I am being hyperbolic when I submit to you, Gentle Readers, that Dominican health care does not “work together as parts of….an interconnecting network.”

    The most hair-tearing thing is the concept of “the appointment.” You make an appointment for say, 11 a.m. You arrive at the doctor’s office at 10.30/10.45 like a good little First Worlder, and lo and behold, there are 5 people ahead of you, all scheduled for 11 o’clock and the doctor has not yet arrived in the office. If I ever go postal and I make the newspapers for spitting and screaming and flailing about, I guarantee it will be because of an “appointment.”

    Another bamboozling feature is the receptionist/secretary who guards the office of the physician like a veritable Cerberus. She accomplishes this in skin-tight jeans with artful shredding along the thighs, a shirt with buttons that scream at high tension over her generous bosom, cheap plastic Barbie shoes with skyscraper heels, and nails and hair for days, while never lifting her eyes from her phone.

    The thing that has always puzzled me is why all those receptionist/secretaries do absolutely zero nada nothing and know absolutely zero nada nothing. As far as I can tell, the one thing for which they will reluctantly tear themselves away from their phones is to write your name in a notebook, invariably with My Little Pony or Elsa from “Frozen” on the cover. And that’s it.

    And then I realized why. The reason is that they are given nothing to do. The doctors all answer their own cell phones (including during examinations) and appointments scheduled by phone don’t matter anyway so why write it down. On a computer scheduling page. Or in a damn day-planner.

    In the US—and I venture to guess in most of the First World—you are instructed to get there early so that you can fill out your intake form. And while you’re doing that, the secretary/receptionist babes are processing your insurance. So that in the 15 minutes you spend doing this, your doctor has had access to your chart and you are called in ON TIME for your appointment.

    Note those two words: On. And Time. On. Time.

    Now forget them.

    But then, in an uncharacteristic attempt to be kind, I imagine medical practices here can’t count on patients to do their own intake forms, because of illiteracy. UNESCO says 93.7% of Dominicans are literate, but that absolutely cannot be true. Even the ones who are functionally literate are about as literate as a third-grader. In my experience, limited though it may be, it’s just not possible that almost 94% of this country’s population can read, write, and do simple computations. Computations, maybe, as Dominicans are relentless and ruthless capitalists. But the reading and writing part: I’m not buying 93.7%. Unless you’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn in which I might be interested.

    So it is the doctors who do the intake forms/medical history. This seems like a tremendous waste of time and resources. To me. But maybe they do actual medical/scientific/doctory stuff at home, and that’s why they stroll into their offices slightly before lunch. And then leave at noon on the dot to take lunch, returning some time in the general vicinity of 3 p.m.

    And what is with doctors never washing their hands before they touch you? I mean, I don’t know where their hands have been, and in any case, they’ve touched stuff in their offices, which have been filled with sick people and the families of sick people day after day after day. Meanwhile, the maid is mopping the floors every five minutes while the waiting room is filled with people and she’s using one of those disgusting string mops. Most often, she is the only one wearing gloves.

    The secretary/receptionists, to give credit where credit is due, are very good at collecting money for services rendered. I believe this is where the spike heels come in, as they can double as a weapon for financially recalcitrant clients.

    This is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. I have more appointments looming in the weeks ahead, Darlinos, and I will be sure to share my Few Words with you!

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