Expat-Dominican Interaction

jackquontee

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During the process of thinking about life in the DR and, more particularly, about what my life would be like should I move there, I started thinking about what the experience(s) of others have been.

I have often felt it necessary to co-mingle with the native population because I've always thought that if I wanted to interact solely with non-Dominicans, I might as well stay home in the US. However, I've noticed in, admittedly, my few short visits there that most expats, though not all, seem to interact only with each other, and actually have very limited social interaction, if any at all, with the Dominicans outside of transacting business.

Is this just an impression on my part because I've not had much exposure to, and observations of, life there? Or is it another one of those things that is "simply the way it is"? Are there others who initially traveled to the DR to live with every intention of "blending in" with the native population, to the extent that one could, but found themselves drawn back to the people with whom they felt more safe and comfortable?

I am very interested in hearing what others might think. Thanks
 

Rocky

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No matter how much you try or desire to assimilate, we come from a different world and have different needs & interests.
We can co-mingle to a certain degree, but everyone needs to socialize with his peers, and be able to be totally comfortable with their native tongue.
We tell different jokes and have different senses of humour.
We have different tastes in food and drink.
We have needs that we cannot live without, like 24 hour electricity, 24 hour water and interior plumbing.
We all would like to capture some of that happy-go-lucky, attitude the Dominicans have, yet we cannot prevent ourselves, from being concerned about our futures, so no matter how hard we try, we can't get onto the same wavelength. It's like trying to be a 4 year old child again.
It just can't be done.
 

carina

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I partly agree with you Rocky, but not completely.

First it would depend on which Dominicans you associate with, I can tell you for sure, none of my friends ( born and raised here ) would live without electricity either. They are educated, they have comfortable homes and they live interesting lives, have their children in as good schools as possible, they eat well and they have money saved for tomorrow. They have a working moral and they care what is going on in society as well as in the world.
There are many faces of the Dominican Republic, and yes, I?d say it would be difficult to live and associate with the poorest most of the time, or with the barrio girls & boys that hang around tourists or naive newbies.
That is a different way of living in all senses, and I would not be friends with that kind of people anywhere in the world.
I?d do my best to help the poorest, but that is not being friends.

But lets also remember that among the expats/immigrant there is different cultures, different humour, and different languages.
As for me, being from Europe, having grown up in a different system of society than the Americans ( allthough simular to the Canadian ), I do not have "everything in common" with an American either. As I do not have with a "Dominican".

I personally have more friends that are Dominican than expats.
With a large procent of the expats living here, I?d say I have less in common than with the Dominicans.

I happily go to a DR1 thanksgiving party or simular, but it is not part of my daily life.
Hey, talk about culture, where I come from we don?t even have thanksgiving.LOL
 

Rocky

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There is no doubt, that the greater the education of the Dominican, the lesser the disparity of our thought processes and interests.
This is quite obvious.
The reply to Jackquontee was just that.
An explanation to the observations he had made.
He wondered why most ex-pats intermingle with other ex-pats, more than with Dominicans.
My post was not meant to be demeaning to Dominicans in general, in any form or manner.
Most ex-pats live in touristy areas and have little access to the more educated Dominicans, therefore the social gap is greater, therefore ex-pats tend to socialize with other ex-pats.
 

carina

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To that I do agree Marco!

I personally consider it very strange to move to a country, and the only local you might know is a maid or a taxidriver after years of being here.
Although this is not as uncommon as it might appear.
Many people living here, never gets in to society, they don?t learn the language and they don?t adapt any of the local culture at all.
 

jackquontee

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First of all, let me say, Christ, I thought I was the only one awake at this time of the morning.

You've both done well in helping me to better understand the issue and, Marco, more so with your second post than the first. I think it is a given that we tend to associate more with those with whom we have something in common.

There has been, of course, much discussion in this forum regarding the establishment of relationships between men and women, and I've wondered what the situation is with other relationships in general. For instance, the advice given has been to associate with women who are professionals, i.e., Doctors, Lawyers, etc, in order to be "accepted". And although I've realized that, on the North Coast, this group isn't as developed and as predominant a one as might be found in Santiago and Santo Domingo, they do exist. And, yet, I still don't see much social interaction between expats and that group.

This has further led me to question where it is that the line of acceptability for social relationships exists. Is it okay to develop/establish relationships and socialize with a colmado owner, a retail shop owner, a mechanic? Or, is the bar much higher and begins and ends at the "professional" level?
 

carina

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Jackquontee, I think you just haven?t been here enough to see this part of society yet. It will come, once you stay here a little longer.

You don?t need to find a lawyer as your love to be accepted among the locals here, but you will certainly be looked as "yet another gringo doing what he cannot do in his own country" if you date cheap girls from the barrio just out for your money, or a whore, or a waitress or a woman doing nothing at all ( may I add, with no intention doing anything else than spend your money ).
There are many happy relationships ( among locals and immigrants ) where the woman is a teacher for example.
For example the owners of supermercado Tropical are Dominican/American, and they are both happy and accepted by society.
The owners of the coffeeshop and several bancas downtown are Austrian with local wives. Both very much accepted by society, as they are descent, hardworking men with values of life, family and work. Run as a family business with the wives working as well.

There is a much larger community here amongst the immigrants too, than you have seen, and all of them are not online or members of DR1.
Most live lowkey lives, with their friends, families and work, pretty much as anywhere else.

The thing in this society, is that it is very class oriented.
It is not something we need to agree on, but it is what it is, and nothing we can change.

If you date a "tourist whore" or a barrio boy you will pretty much be dropped by anyone in the local society, if you have a business or if you are a client, they will not want to have anything to do with you.
That is how it is, you can not bring him/her anywhere, and therefor you will never be invited anywhere either.

Hillbilly once wrote a clever post here ( hey, all his posts are clever ), and it was that here, as anywhere else in the world, you will probably find your friends where your interests are. If you are a person of the night, like drinking, partying.. well, maybe you don?t find your friends at the libary for a starter, but at a disco. If you are interested in playing poker, you?ll probably find your friends where poker is played, and if you like classical music, you might have a bigger chance finding people with common interests at the Casa de Cultura, rather than at the baseball stadium.
And of course you can mingle along all these parts of society.
This is the very same here as anywhere else.
And your friends will come from the part(s) of society where you and your interests are.

The key is pretty much to get out of the tourist trap, and find real relationships/friends among the people that actually live here and that share the values that you have yourself, may they be Dominican or not.
 
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carina

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And yes, we are up!
Living downtown Puerto Plata on the morning of xmas, means loads of groups walking the streets singing, banging pots, drums etc etc greeting Christ.
And they do this around 3-5 a.m., if you like it, you shall go up and join them.... Culture!!!!
After group number 4, I gave up.....LOL

And my reward now: A quiet morning with an orange sky, some birds singing...
Paradise!
 
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Chirimoya

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As well as what everyone else has said, there is the key factor of language.

I wrote about it in my blog several weeks ago: I live in the city so I could avoid other expats altogether. However, my work brings me into contact with expats, and it would be easy to socialise exclusively in those circles, as indeed some expats do.

I found that due to the transient nature of the expat community, I was making friends, and then going through the sad process of having to say goodbye to them, because my situation is not so transient.

I then made a conscious decision to seek more Dominican friends, combined with foreigners living here whose situation is more permanent.

Because of all the reasons mentioned by Carina and Rocky it is not so easy to find people who are on your wavelength, but I've been lucky and although I can't say I've found a huge quantity of such people, the quality of the few Dominican friends I have more than makes up for it.
 

jackquontee

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Carina, let's take this discussion out of the context of the usual tourist/whore scenario, as that is not what I'm talking about at all. I'm talking about relationships in general.

The real premise for my question came about as a result of my wondering who it is I would associate with there in the DR if I lived there. I would most certainly associate with other expats (as I have during my visits there) as we would have many things in common. But, if one is to believe much of what one hears and reads, I would not associate with any Dominicans. If the criteria for establishing/maintaining relationships with Dominicans is that they be "professional" people, as has often been suggested when one talks about dating, it would seem that, particularly on the North Coast, those relationships would be extremely limited, at best.

I do agree, there is alot more to be experienced. And I hope you folks are not bothered by my line of questioning. I ask these questions because I am trying to gain a greater understanding.

And, finally, I don't envy you being there at this time. It is extremely quiet here in the countryside where I live. Though I am used to being up early every day, I am not fond of alot of noise, as this time of the day is when I spend time gathering my thoughts and getting myself together.

Will see you soon.
 
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Bogey

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I'm going to disagree with Rocky on this one

when I lived overseas for a year or so, I made it a POINT to avoid all tourists, foreigners, etc.

If I want to talk to Americans, why would I travel to the DR or anywhere else to do that? Not that I won't talk to any, you always find certain people you get along with for whatever reason, but as a general rule I tend to avoid speaking English when overseas.

yes, it can be difficult, but it does wonders for the language you're trying to learn (in this case Spanish). And getting friends in one's peer group is very easy, especially in Latin America, even when your language skills are still a bit behind.
I'm speaking from a somewhat younger person's reference, I do notice most of the retired expats, etc tend to hang out with each other and I suppose this makes a bit more sense.

Nonetheless.

Put me squarely in the camp of the original poster.
If I want to talk to Americans, no need to travel to the DR (or anywhere else) in order to do that.

(that's not even taking into account the fact that a significant amount of tourists, Americans, etc are quite annoying)
 

carina

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I agree with you in general, but your question was about expats, and a high % of those do associate with tourist oriented "friends/dates".
That IS the trap.

If you are in the tourist trap/mold and date barrio girls/men, cheapies out for just a higher standard of living, THEN the relationship would be limited.
Friendship or dating, because it would limit your opportunities in most other parts of society.

If you chose to live here, and make friends with Dominicans with values, standards of honesty, work ethics then it wouldn?t be limited at all.
This side of society is very class oriented, but then again, I wouldn?t have a whore or freeloader as a friend in any country, and I don?t think you would either.
The difficulties comes when we learn to exist in a somewhat new culture to us, to learn to separate the genuine smiles and hands for friendship with the ones just wanting to take advantage of you.
This is natural in a society with this class orientation, where rich is very rich, and poor is very poor. BUT, somehow we often forget (here on DR1 ) the very large urban middleclass of good, honest people.
They ARE the Dominican Republic in many ways, and not the ones hanging around looking for gringo friends.
 

jackquontee

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Chiri, yes, I would assume that, living in the city, you would have a greater opportunity to assimilate into and interact with the larger Dominican society, or at least have the benefit of choosing to do so, as your exposure would be greater.

Though I plan to take trips to the cities, particularly to Santiago, when I begin to stay for longer periods of time, my problem is that I hate cities.
 

jackquontee

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carina said:
If you chose to live here, and make friends with Dominicans with values, standards of honesty, work ethics then it wouldn?t be limited at all.
Perfect!!! I guess this is what I've been wondering about. If, again, one believes everything one reads and hears, you would assume there are either only "lowlifes", or "professionals. I've often wondered, "what about the group in between?", who I am guessing is probably the larger of them all. After all, I would find it very difficult to believe that anyone who isn't a Doctor or Lawyer is a whore. Additionally, assuming that the group you've mentioned does exist, as they appear to, I have to then wonder why it is there doesn't seem to be more social interaction with them by the expat community. But, I guess this is where "common interests" come into play.

Thanks, dear. I knew somehow you would come through for me.:classic:
 

jackquontee

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Bogey said:
when I lived overseas for a year or so, I made it a POINT to avoid all tourists, foreigners, etc.

If I want to talk to Americans, why would I travel to the DR or anywhere else to do that? Not that I won't talk to any, you always find certain people you get along with for whatever reason, but as a general rule I tend to avoid speaking English when overseas.

yes, it can be difficult, but it does wonders for the language you're trying to learn (in this case Spanish). And getting friends in one's peer group is very easy, especially in Latin America, even when your language skills are still a bit behind.
I'm speaking from a somewhat younger person's reference, I do notice most of the retired expats, etc tend to hang out with each other and I suppose this makes a bit more sense.

Nonetheless.

Put me squarely in the camp of the original poster.
If I want to talk to Americans, no need to travel to the DR (or anywhere else) in order to do that.

(that's not even taking into account the fact that a significant amount of tourists, Americans, etc are quite annoying)
It's nice to hear that someone else understands. It just seems to me that I would be missing out on a great deal by limiting myself to non-Dominicans. I would love, more than anything else, to learn and adopt the language, the dance, the music, etc. I have seen some expats who have lived there for years and still struggle with the language, for instance. That, to me, is sad. But, to each his/her own.
 

carina

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jackquontee said:
Perfect!!! I guess this is what I've been wondering about. If, again, one believes everything one reads and hears, you would assume there are either only "lowlifes", or "professionals. I've often wondered, "what about the group in between?", who I am guessing is probably the larger of them all. After all, I would find it very difficult to believe that anyone who isn't a Doctor or Lawyer is a whore. Additionally, assuming that the group you've mentioned does exist, as they appear to, I have to then wonder why it is there doesn't seem to be more social interaction with them by the expat community. But, I guess this is where "common interests" come into play.

Thanks, dear. I knew somehow you would come through for me.:classic:
If you live a regular life here, you interact with the people very much, as friends, or in everyday situations.
The larger population of the society ( the middle class ) will not go looking for you, as you are not of interest for them just by being a "gringo".
This is where common interests play a role, where your neighbours play an important part etc.
These are the same people that would not make an effort to get to know you if you come along with a whore, tourist trap-freeloader by your side.
If you, on the other hand, have a geniune interest in getting to know them, their friends, have common interests, they will be the first to reach out their hands to you, as a gesture of friendship and not to grab a finger.;)
 

jackquontee

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carina said:
If you live a regular life here, you interact with the people very much, as friends, or in everyday situations.
The larger population of the society ( the middle class ) will not go looking for you, as you are not of interest for them just by being a "gringo".
This is where common interests play a role, where your neighbours play an important part etc.
These are the same people that would not make an effort to get to know you if you come along with a whore, tourist trap-freeloader by your side.
If you, on the other hand, have a geniune interest in getting to know them, their friends, have common interests, they will be the first to reach out their hands to you, as a gesture of friendship and not to grab a finger.;)

Aahhhh......but I'm not a gringo.;) :classic: ;) :classic:
In all seriousness, I understand what you're saying, and feel more at ease with the idea of being there. As usual, thanks for your help and advice.
 

Rocky

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jackquontee said:
And I hope you folks are not bothered by my line of questioning. I ask these questions because I am trying to gain a greater understanding.
Are you kidding?
Your questions are valid, cleas & concise, and informative to others who wonder the same thing.
It's not a question I've seen asked before, so it's a lot more gratifying to take the time to answer, than another sankie question, or "what will the weather be like in March, when I come on vacation?".
I think Larry should get a hold of your post and put it into the info & data section he has been gathering.
And Very Merry Christmas to you.