Strange Habits and Beliefs in the DR

Matilda

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Sep 13, 2006
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I am married to a Dominican and live with him and his kids and run a colmado and sometimes I think I am getting close to understanding the way Dominicans think differently to us Europeans. Not wrong, just different. However, as I have mentioned before, Juan Dolio has many Haitians and I have many Haitian customers and friends and their way of thinking is completely different to Dominicans.

Example one. Friend for about 6 years, Haitian, been here for 2 years, left to come to DR for a better life and spotted girlfriend kissing his best friend in Haiti, so argued with girlfriend and best friend and came here. 2 years later girlfriend turns up 7 months pregnant. Says baby is his. This guy is clever. Speaks 4 languages fluently and is hoping to go to university in France. Whole life comes crashing down as now has 'wife' and baby on way. I say "excuse me but how can the baby be yours when you left 2 years ago". He explained that there is something called a 'tropical syndrome' that the woman becomes pregnant but because she is so sad and missing the baby's father the baby goes into hibernation in the womb for up to 2 or 3 years. (I think this is what Sharia law says too). Baby is born, and because he argued with his best friend, God has repaid him by making baby look like best friend to remind him of his harsh words he said to best friend all his life. He cannot be convinced that it is not his child, and other Haitians I have spoken too have agreed with him that he his is right about this 'Tropical Syndrome".

Number 2. 58 year old Haitian man has lost his 2 front teeth. Solution should be visit to dentist and get bridge fitted. No. You have all top teeth pulled out by local Haitian priest, 4 each Sunday. With pliers. No anaesthetic. Then you wait for another Haitian to die and then they take his top set and give it to you. He has been waiting 4 months for his new top set but things are looking good as another Haitian is gravely ill with 'sugar' so his luck could be in soon.

I offered to pay for him to go to local 'proper' dentist but no, this is the way it is done.

Comments? Other examples? Any idea how to understand the Haitian mentality?

Matilda
 

korejdk

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Dec 29, 2006
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I simply refuse to believe the "tropical syndrome" bit...I mean, yes, they're into voodoo and all, yet this is too much...
 

korejdk

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"All men are created equal, yet there is a natural aristocracy among men." Thomas Jefferson
 

Ricardo900

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Jul 12, 2004
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You can't judge your experience with a few haitians as representative of the whole Haitian people. I bet there are people in puerto rico, that wonder "The way Dominicans think" I am from NYC and my peers wonder "The way country people think".

So let's not use the example of a few haitians to represent the whole because you'll run across this type of behaviour in probably most Third-World countries and even some eccentric ones in the US and Europe, so please give me a break.
 

Chip

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Jul 25, 2007
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Santiago
i know some haitians i never knew they are dumb, wow
No offense, but there is a big difference between "dumb" and "ignorant". I also have quite a few examples of crazy stuff a lot of campesinos believe. Then again I have some examples of nonsense that some country people back home in South Carolina believe.

The problem is lack of education that creates a "vacuum" of knowledge about topics that leads people to perpetuate longstanding erroneous beliefs or create new ones to try to understand something.

Believe it or not, with these type of people, sometimes doing the exact opposite of what they need to do seems the most logic, as is they figure that if common sense and logic require a certain solution then it can't be good because it is too simple, therefore they must choose a solution which they can't understand. I see this as a way many ignorant people think and have seen this in action too. Quite unfortunate too, let's just hope that the UN doesn't quit on Haiti and if they have to hold their hand until kingdom come until they can establish a more effective gov't. than so be it.
 

DRob

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Aug 15, 2007
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You can't judge your experience with a few haitians as representative of the whole Haitian people. I bet there are people in puerto rico, that wonder "The way Dominicans think" I am from NYC and my peers wonder "The way country people think".

So let's not use the example of a few haitians to represent the whole because you'll run across this type of behaviour in probably most Third-World countries and even some eccentric ones in the US and Europe, so please give me a break.
Thanks for the timely post. It's not a good idea to make generalizations about people.
 

Matilda

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Sep 13, 2006
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I was not trying to say that Haitians were stupid - far from it. The preganancy thing is also the case in strict Muslem (Sharia) law. They believe it too (I think), and when I discussed whether a woman could really be pregnant for 2 years with doctors from the UK and USA they didn't dismiss it out of hand, as I did. I just wanted to know if anyone else had any experience of that way of thinking too, or knew where the Sharia law came from?

The teeth thing is also interesting as when my grandfather signed up to go to the front for the first world war - he was 18 - the first thing they did was pull all his teeth out, also without anaesthetic - as they didn't want anyone getting toothache in the trenches. He has false teeth when he was 18 years old. Plus ca change.

Matilda
 

cobraboy

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Jul 24, 2004
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When a person is smart enough to speak four languages, yet stays with the "Tropical Syndrome" belief, it does give one pause to think...
 

Princesa777

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I have an example from my Dominican family, a niece of my husband, she's about 11/12 years old, really outgoing nice girl. Suddenly she changed and got really scared, basically for everything and anything, she started crying, was clamping on to everyone, didnt want to go to the toilet alone anymore etc. This change happened in a 2 week period or something and lasted for a week. Then at the end of this week, she changed from a scared girl into a completely catatonic girl! She was just staring in the nothingness, only walked when u pulled her, didnt swallow, not even when u put water in her mouth at one point even saliva came out of her mouth (not foam) because she didnt swallow that either! This change happened in a 8 hour period or something.
So in the middle of the night to the hospital, but they couldnt do anything, just gave her something to sleep. But next day she got a bit better and 2 days after she was back to her normal old self. (not even scared anymore)

So what happened to her? According to the MEDICAL doctor (Note i didnt hear the doctor say this myself, but this is what the familly said the doctor said): its because she just started with her period and everything, and the bad blood of the menstruation went to her head (!?????) The family was saying this happens quite a lot with girls that start menstruating??
 

rio2003

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I have certainly heard some strange beliefs and untruths regarding menstruation - I just shrug and accept that if they want to believe that, fair enough!

My Dominican ex would never let me give my underwear to be washed by someone else because he said if a bruha got hold of it she could cast a spell on me!

Rio
 

catcherintherye

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If you think of it in psychological terms it really makes sense. If a girl does not understand, and has never been told about having her period, and is suddenly confronted with her own blood, it might be somewhat traumatic for her. By saying the trauma of being unprepared for what the experienced was "going to her head", the doctor was probably just saying that the trauma affected the girl's emotional stability, which is very logical and based on medical fact.
 

jrf

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Jan 9, 2005
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I know a large number of Haitians and have been friends with some of them for over four years. Much like the Dominicanos it seems to take forever to get to know them-for real anyway.

There are so many confusing parts to the way they think. For example you may have a Haitian that believes and lives a Christian life but still has a large number of beliefs of spells or bad luck.
Apparently the mix of faith and voodoo in many of the churches/religions in Haiti is quite strong in some cases.
Can't imagine what that would do to someone's head.

I was sweeping up the floor of my friend's shop (visiting and bored) and the broom swept onto the feet of one of the women there.
She screamed.
Apparently it is the same as what a bruja would do if she didn't want you to have any children.

Another is a friend's younger sister was ill in the hospital and even the doctor said she stepped on 'something' left by a bruja meant for someone else.
Now I was thinking tetanus.

The 'Tropical Syndrome' - weird to say the least.

Lack of knowledge yes, ignorant at times yes, stupid - don't appreciate remarks like that. Some of the Haitians I know certainly do some very stupid things but so do I at times.
 

Hillbilly

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Jan 1, 2002
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And you question why Haiti is so backward? Or why, generally speaking, most ex-pats always use some form of deprecating adjective before the word 'Dominican'? you know, like "stupid Dom" , "ignorant Dom" or the typical "f*ckin' Dominicans"???? Or brush off such ignorance/lack-of-education on "it's a Dominican thing."

Girls are told not to drink citric juice during menstruation, or lactation. Evil women do "jobs" of people. A pair of crossed sticks on a doorway could mean woe or even death.

Like Matilda, I try not to judge, but man oh man, it is weird, huh?

HB
 

rio2003

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Aug 16, 2006
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Strange beliefs....

I am just remembering some other things that I am always being told...


Not to sit with my legs crossed as it will affect my ability to have babies!

It is bad for you to drink water with your food, refresco is better.

Not to use tampons as it stops the bad blood from leaving the body, better to use sanitary pads (not for me, thanks)

I am sure there are loads more, I am always getting told off!

Rio
 

cobraboy

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Jul 24, 2004
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Alida's family's former housekeeper put crossed knives at the entrances to strike fear into potential ladrones...

With beliefs as some posted here, is there any wonder why certain areas of the world are so behind?
 

Princesa777

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Apr 13, 2008
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If you think of it in psychological terms it really makes sense. If a girl does not understand, and has never been told about having her period, and is suddenly confronted with her own blood, it might be somewhat traumatic for her. By saying the trauma of being unprepared for what the experienced was "going to her head", the doctor was probably just saying that the trauma affected the girl's emotional stability, which is very logical and based on medical fact.
I actually thought about that it might be a way of the doctor trying to explain it to the family and I came to this kind of conlusion too, except in this case (in my mind) it doesnt really hold up, because she had her menstruation for a couple of months already and she did have a couple of talks about it with her mom before she started.
Apart from that, she recently had another 'attack' (8 months later and in the mean time nothing) and again it was the bad blood of the menstruation :ermm:

I do recognize some stuff from Hillbilly, she was not allowed to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables anymore (dont remember exactly which ones) as long as she was in 'development'. As far as I could understand they were not just talking about menstruation but puberty in general.

Except for going to a normal doctor they also went to a witch doctor (or voodoo doctor i dont know exactly) and this guy had a completely different opinion, somebody had put a voodoo curse on the house. The house needed an excorcism (or something like that) and in the mean time the girl should not enter the house.

As I said, the next day (after attack) the girl started getting better immediately, 1 or 2 days AFTER that the witch doctor came and did the 'exorcism' or decursing. The girl kept improving, so the witch doctor was right!!

In the last year they moved to another part of the country, so when she recently had the attack again, the family travelled 8 hours with the girl to see the witch doctor again.