How many people can you fit in a Corolla?
If you’re in Santiago, Dominican Republic, you know the answer is 7.
My first couple of weeks in the DR have flown by, and I’ve been working at adapting to the heat, the bugs, and the unusual means of transportation. Here in Santiago, the main form of transport is the “concho”- otherwise known as a beaten-up Corolla in which you cram 4 people in the back, and 2 in the passenger seat. The conchos have fixed routes and go most everywhere, so for 20 pesos (about $.50 USD) they get you where you need to go. While some of my fellow American students avoid conchos at all costs, I feel it’s worth sacrificing comfort for convenience. And hey, it’s the Dominican way!
The conchos say a lot about Dominican life in my eyes; there’s something to be said about a culture that doesn’t think twice about a stranger practically sitting on top of you. Many of the small conveniences of the United States are gone (potable water, air conditioning, etc.), but I’m learning from the Dominicans around me to go with the flow and take things as they come. It’s been a huge learning experience to see the nonchalant attitude toward water and power outages, for example. I remember the first time I woke up and headed to the shower, only to be told “no hay agua” (there’s no water) by my host mom. It’s going to take some adjusting, that’s for sure, but I’m slowly but surely adapting. I’m still getting used to “Dominican time”, though- a concept of time that generally runs 30 minutes to an hour behind schedule.
I can tell this semester will be full of even more challenges, and also some incredible moments. I can’t wait to see what the next few months have in store!