Mao Valverde

iian

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Apr 1, 2003
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so i'm coming to dr as an exchange student this august and i just got my host family information!i will be living in a town called Mao.i made a search and found some good but quite old info.so i would be ever so grateful for every bit of info about Mao.what kind of shops is there and is there anything to do for young people?how long does it take to get to Santiago from Mao?some pics would also be great!
these are only few questions that i have in mind.
thanks already!:D
 

XanaduRanch

*** Sin Bin ***
Sep 15, 2002
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My wife, Alba, is from Esperanza, maybe ten minutes away.

By the main highway it's maybe 15-20 minutes to Navarette, and from there anew 4-lane extension to Autopista Duarte takes you to Santiago. Maybe another 15 minutes. There is also a smaller highway from Mao to SW Santiago, but it's smaller and more cluttered. Takes about the same amount of time.

Alba says Mao and Esperanza are much alike. She says the people they are very friendly. There are maybe 8-10 discotechs between the two. Lots of shops and plazas. Good schools, too. You didn't say where you're from. To me (an American) Esperanza is very very noisy and dusty. I haven't been to Mao. For American style shopping malls etc. you will have to make the trip to Santiago, but that's very easily accesible by guagua.

Hope that helps a little!

Tom
 

Dolores1

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May 3, 2000
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Expect a quiet small town living experience. Unfortunately, in the pueblos there is not much more to do than dancing and drinking on the weekends.

Nearby is Moncion, a town that is the heart of casabe production in the DR. It has the lovely Moncion Dam lake, where boat excursions are possible.

You are also relatively near Punta Rucia, with some of the best crab and fish in the country -- Ensenada Beach, stop by at Do?a Elsa's (Elisa?) restaurant. Yummy. You can arrange for a boat trip to Cayo Arena (you need about 10 people to get a good price of RD$1,200 or so), a sandbank which is extraordinary. Bring your mask and snorkel. Lovely fishes around hte coral reefs. You need to arrange this the day before so you can leave by 8 am to the island.

And forget about shopping in Mao. For shopping, visit Santiago or Santo Domingo.
 
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R&JRivas

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Apr 28, 2002
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We Have a home in Mao. This city is quiet, but as mentioned above the dust is incrediable.
There is no "fun" shopping in Mao to speak of. Head to Santiago for that.
There is a park in the middle of city and it keeps busy in the evening with young people. The younger crowd seems to hang out there until the early morning hours.
 

iian

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Apr 1, 2003
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i'm from finland.i live in a small town here too so i think it won't be that hard for me to live in Mao.
drinking and dancing sounds good to me ;) what kind of bars/discotecas is there?any cafes or something like that?internet cafes maeby?what does it cost to travel from Mao to santiago by quaqua or taxi?
can anyone give any ideas what kind of schools they have in Mao?

thanks for everyone who replied!
 

AZB

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Jan 2, 2002
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Mao is a small dusty dry town in the middle of no where. It has no night life and once a year they have a great carnival. There is not much to do except go to agua azul, a hotel complex with a disco and a huge swimming pool. Girls are the most precious asset of Mao. They are very friendly (unlike the british girls) and beautifully slim with fine indian features. There are buses that go to esperanza and Santiago from the stop. These buses are local buses without a/c or any other type of luxury. They stop frequently but they are cheap. When you come to santiago, make sure you bring 2 girls, one for you and the other one for me; thats if you want a room to sleep in my house. :)
 

andy a

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Feb 23, 2002
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Ah, someone from my favorite country - between the Lahti beer, truly free girls (who start paying their own way if they decide they're not interested in a guy), very proud and honest and well educated people, the cops who have nothing to do except sweep drunks up off the streets, the not-yet-overdeveloped country, the ...on and on - a place I'd still go back to if it weren't for the girls starting to pay their own way as soon as they see me (I've gotten too old for them).

I assume that you're a girl, since I don't know why a young man would want to leave.

Here is something I said about Mao in a post about 6 months ago:

"I've never heard of anyone who did not like Mao. It hasn't yet been overrun by tourists, but has conveniences that tourists can appreciate. Those who know nothing else see the giant signs for Agua Azul, a nice swimming pool (with nice girls in it - and a nice bar for you).

"The biggest, newest dam in the whole country is nearby, with a gorgeous lake and good fishing.

"Buses leave for Mao every 30 minutes from 2 different rotundas in Santiago, arriving an hour later.

"Big buses, such as Caribe Tours, on their way to more distant places like Santiago Rodrigues, pass through Mao far into the night - a convenience not available for many destinations. Another Caribe Tours route goes to Monte Cristi, passing through Esperanza less than 10 miles away - taxicab range."

Back to the present. Mao is fairly good size, with about 50 thousand people, and has almost anything that you'll need. Azb is wrong about the slow, multiple stop, buses (guaguas) being the only ones to Santiago, as I explained above.

In Mao, you'll certainly see the REAL DR - lucky you. Forget about Santiago, except for occasional trips - you'll soon know so many people and have so much to do in Mao that you won't need the big city.

The central park is very nice and Agua Azul is very popular. You can either walk or take a motoconcho (motorcycle taxi) to wherever you want to go.

The surrounding countryside is nice (and REAL), and so are the bus connections.

Unfortunately, you'll be in a constant sauna bath, but that's the case with most of the DR.

Have fun.

By the way, maybe in addition to exchanging students, Finland and the DR can exchange police - the Finnish ones have nothing to do for their high pay at home and the DR ones are useless, so they'd fit right in.
 

iian

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Apr 1, 2003
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yes i'm a girl,so azb you can keep both the girls;) but if there is good looking girls in Mao then there has to be also cute guys there?right?

andy a i live nearby lahti and the beer is quite good.and yeah finnish girls are independent but that's the way we have been brought up:).and yes our police forces are good (good for me to say i'm dating a guy who is studying to become a police)but they don't get that good salary (well in dominican standards is good but in finnish scale it's not).and they still have a lot of work to do even though it sometimes doesn't seem like it.but exchanging police officer would be good idea-i would love to have my soon- to-become-police officer-guy with me;)and if you ever decide to come back to Finland you can always pay a drink or two for me, because in finland we still have this saying "never spit on a cup,especially if it's full of alcohol":D

Mao sounds ok to me.but is it safe there?i mean like at the night time?does anyone know anything about Los Girasoles in Mao?it's either a barrio or a street.is it nearby the "centrum"?do you think it's possible to go to enjoy the night life of santiago and then come back at night with a bus or taxi?and what are the costs of taxi?

thanks again!kiitos.
 

Hillbilly

Moderator
Jan 1, 2002
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Some interesting things about Mao

Forty one years ago I went to live in Mao. It was a lot smaller then and really has not changed much.

1) It is safe.
2) It is backward, although there are computer centers, discos and a couple of good places to eat. The mentality is a little backward.
3) It is possible to get a good education: The candidate from Mao in the National Math Olympics finished 1st in the region and #8 in the nation. (She's my grandniece-hehe)
4) You will be a local spectacle! So white among all that tan, brown and black. You will look like a goose feather on a bed of coal...But that has happened before. You will be constantly wooed by the young men (and some older ones, I suspect) and all the boys. You will have marriage proposals for sure.
5) There have been Finns in Mao since the time of Trujillo: Pablo Mustonen grew up there and was/is a very good friend. The Lectonens were also well known in Mao and the Sonis in Jarabacoa. These three families are still here and there are several Finns in Sosua and the North Shore.
6) What Dolores said. It is all true. And besides that there is excellent transport both to Santiago or just about any place else.
7) You will be much older than 90 or 95 % of the students in your class and much more mature. Some of your classmates have never been to Santiago or Santo Domingo. Some have been to Disney in Florida and New York City. One or two might have been in Europe, but they are all young. Kids graduate high school at 16 or 17 most of the time.
8)Expect to find lots of curiosity about yourself, your love life, your family and your family's finances..the questions will never stop.
9)Mao lives by agriculture: Rice is number one and then bananas and plantains (very similar). There is no industry in Mao.
10) You will arrive in August, a month before the "Fiesta de Santa Cruz de Mao" which is the feastday of the year. You should have fun.
11) Since I still have family and friends in Mao, I suggest that you send me a PM or an email and I will give you some names and phone numbers...to help you get adjusted.

You are going to have an interesting year.

HB

Edited to add: Mao also has a large mosquito population (because of #9) so bug repellant is an important item to bring. You will be "fresh meat." Sun screen is terribly important because you are so white. You have never seen sun like this. Mao is hot, not humid, and usually has a breeze. The mornings are cool, so bring a light sweater and blanket.
 
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kjdrga

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Mar 25, 2002
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Don't worry about safety, your host family will be protecting you against all evils. Don't be surprised if they don't let you walk anywhere alone. You'll find they'll send even a 6-7 year old with you just so you aren't alone. They accompany you to the disco's and teach you what is and isn't acceptable behavior from those you'll be dancing with. You'll have a great time!
 

iian

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Apr 1, 2003
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yes i found www.maovalverde.com yesterday and it's a really cool site.by looking at the photos i have some kind of idea where i'm heading.
i just have to keep my heart,ears,eyes and mind open.
keep more stories&info about Mao coming!i want to know as much as possible!:D
 

andy a

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Feb 23, 2002
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Iian,

Forget about Dominican men, you'll be good for me. Yes, Finnish girls are the best in the world except for one fault - they think that I'm too old for them now and won't give me the chance to prove otherwise. Oh well, I had my time in Finland - very nice.

Yes, I still remember how to say "kiitos", accurately, I might add. I could also say "kiipis", but I never tried to learn Finnish. Sometimes it was better, it seemed, not to be able to talk with the girls. Of course, at least half of them spoke English anyway.

I hope you know Spanish. The Finns may be the world's best linguists, and you obviously speak Finnish, English, Swedish (of course), and maybe German and Russian, but Spain is far away. Start studying if you don't already know it.

Also, you desperately need a crash course in being "street aware". Those who say that the DR is "safe" are comparing it to New York. Coming from a place where women entering a discotheque throw their purses into a pile in the corner, then go back and get them when they leave (for example), there is no way that you are prepared for the DR. Maybe your travel agent can give you guidelines for surviving in a third world country. Most of it is common sense, but which you haven't had to consider in Finland.

Upon your arrival, you should be very careful about going anywhere alone until you get used to the culture, and become "street smart".

To answer some of your questions:
1. Mao is probably as safe as anywhere in the DR. It is poor and thus probably has a relatively small criminal class. Petty theft, though, is rampant everywhere in the DR.

2. Los Girasoles must be a barrio, but I don't know where it is. Duarte Street goes right through the main residential area, so if you look at a map, you might find it in that area.

3. I don't think you'll need to go to Santiago for nightlife, unless you're trying to meet Gringos or rich Dominicans. The DR has discotheques everywhere, just like Finland - no town or barrio is too small. Agua Azul is a popular place. It actually consists of the best hotel in Mao, with attached swimming pool. Normal admission to the pool is about 50 pesos, I think, except when they have a band, then it might be 200 pesos. The pool has a bar and a large seating, dancing, area.

If you do want to return from Santiago to Mao at night, you might be able to find a relatively late bus (Caribe Tours, for example) that passes through Mao on its way farther west to Santiago Rodrigues.

I don't recommend taking a taxi cross country at night. Since there are no police patrols, even Dominicans don't travel at night except in groups. Santiago to Mao might be marginally ok, though. because its not really open country, but has little towns along the way. It might cost about 500 or 600 pesos. Bus fare should be no more than 50 pesos.

Prepare yourself, but relax - you'll enjoy it.