On Monday we decided to visit the white, sandy beaches and clear, blue water that attract so many tourists. We went to Sosua Beach and enjoyed its breathtaking tropical beauty. This gave us the opportunity to view the Dominican culture from a tourist’s perspective, and we took note of the cultural surroundings.
While we were making our way down Sosua Beach, we were stopped by many vendors. If we even looked in their direction, they would stop us and try to make an offer. We weren’t accustomed to being followed around and pressured into buying an item. While we were sitting on the beach, women would come up to us and offer to give us a manicure, pedicure, or massage. Other vendors would try to sell us their jewelry or food items. This made us ponder: how much and what would they do just to earn money?
We were also accompanied by Juan, a native to the Dominican Republic. Juan works for Dove Missions and was our guide. He was a former police officer for Puerto Plata and Santiago. We spent our lunch period asking him questions about his former occupation. He informed us that he worked for Puerto Plata for approximately 20 years until he exposed a drug ring that involved his fellow officers. He was then transferred to Santiago to work. He considered this a punishment because he had to work behind a desk for six years and had to travel farther to work. He was only able to travel home once a week for a couple of hours to visit his family. Additionally, Juan informed us that he once had to spend three days in jail because he was late to an officer meeting.
The personal experiences we had with the vendors and the information we gathered from Juan opened our eyes to a different lifestyle. Vendors in America do not follow us around and pressure us into buying. We often state to vendors, “I am just looking,” and they leave us to do our shopping. Also in America, we don’t hear often about police officers being involved in drug-rings or being sent to jail for being late to a meeting or work. These types of situations are typically dramatized and used for entertainment in films.
Sami, Junior Health Promotion and Social Work student
Kathleen, Sophomore Nursing Student
(Follow the experiences of our students as they have been serving in the Dominican Republic during spring break. Visit the blog at the Barton College School of Nursing.)