You know it’s time to go home when lying in bed watching a compilation of the greatest fights on The View on YouTube becomes an attractive option. Actually, I’ve been going pretty hard so I feel like it’s time to rest up a bit and slowly start easing myself back into reality mode… Emphasis on the word “slowly” of course. I’m not done yet. I decided to escape from “The Zone” today and see what kind of life lies beyond it’s borders. I’m glad I did… My opinion of Santo Domingo has done a complete 360. Santo Domingo outside of the Zona Colonial is a completely different world. As to be expected of course… Historical centres, colonial zones or whatever you want to call it are always going to be more tourist flavoured than local but nevertheless they’re usually a hub of activity. Somehow in Santo Domingo it’s the reverse. The Colonial Zone here seems a little tired and lifeless. I guess another issue for me is that out of all the places I’ve visited, the Dominican Republic is the most “Afro”… Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course but for me it’s the culture that I feel the least affinity with.
Anyway what the Zone lacks in energy, the Dominicans certainly make up for it in other parts. I walked north up Avenida Duarte to Ramon Caceres metro station and then took the train and went and checked out a couple of high end malls, Sambil and Agora. Avenida Duarte is the main commerce route for low income earners. The entire road is wall to wall shops, stalls of all kinds and people. To describe the scene as “chaotic” would be a complete understatement. There’s no way photos or words can do it justice… It has to be experienced. The photos I’m posting here are of Avenida Duarte… As I said before, they really don’t capture the atmosphere. One thing I can’t get past noticing all the time, and Avenida Duarte is a prime example, is how dirty the city is and how much trash there is in the streets. From the cities that I’ve visited in my time, Santo Domingo is second only to Manila in terms of dirtiness. No-one seems to use bins and no-one seems concerned either… I was carrying my trash around with me but when I bought something and my hands were full to receive the goods and change I too hurled my trash into the street. It seemed really weird to so brazenly litter in front of hundreds of people and no-one blinks an eye.
The malls were as you would expect them to be… Air-conditioned and full of beautiful shops and beautiful people.