Street Vendors sell from carts or little permanent spots in the streets, beaches and doorways in all parts of the Dominican Republic. These street vendors are usually out no matter the weather. These sales people work from their little carts of varying types. Motorized, peddle carts, under an umbrella, push carts or horse drawn carts. Some carry a tray of food atop their heads even using a discarded fan cover as a basket.
*Bolitas de Coco
*El Frío Frío
*La Guagüita Anunciadora
*Helados – Skim Ice
These vendors can be seen everywhere bringing products to the people. Some of these vendors walk with the items they are selling dangling from every available place. They can be seen on foot in the streets. You can see them hanging out at an intersection or weaving in and out of traffic. They can be any place the cars are known to slow down (watch out at stops, you may get your windshield washed even if you do not want it). Some of these street vendors have permanent spots. Some are roamers. They are walking up and down the beaches. They can be seen almost anyplace in the country. Many times these vendors can be a nuisance and need to be chased away.
Some of these persistent sales people will take no for an answer while others see a potential “victim” and will be very persistent. All one needs to do is walk away if they can, wind up the window or don’t look at them. If they get aggressive call for the police, but most will not bother you. They see no need wasting their time with you when there are other potential buyers for whatever product they are selling.
You can buy almost any type of food from these vendors. There is such a great variety of food I cannot hope to list them all here. There are restaurants on wheels. You can buy a little bag of nuts, a pack of gum, a piece of fruit, or a few little coconut sweets. There are people selling meats, and the small filled pastries to a complete meal be it breakfast or pork with veggies.
Fruit and Juice
Buy a piece of fruit (to learn some of the names of foods) while walking around the city. A pealed and halved orange can be very refreshing to enjoy. There are many vendors all over selling fresh, and I mean fresh, fruit. Most of the fruits are picked that same day. Since it is fresh picked and locally grown the flavor is so much better. A mango, papaya, coconut or orange eaten here has so much more flavor. Please give some of the native fruit a try and see for yourself the difference.
You can purchase fresh squeezed juice, shaved ice (frio -frio), ice cream, corn on the cob, hard boiled eggs and a cup of coffee or bottle of beer. There are hamburgers (called Chimi Churris here), hot-dog and sandwich vendors. They sell fresh fruits and vegetables. Some sell the fruits already cut and plated which can be a very refreshing and healthy treat. Get a coconut and drink the fresh water right there in the street.
Important: While in Dominican Republic you must try some of these foods sold buy a street vendor. Be careful of anything served using ice. Make sure it is bag ice. Observe their serving and food storage practices also. Your stomach may not be quite as tough as the locals.
Buy some snacks or a hard boiled egg from a small plate carried by a vendor. You can buy fresh fish or even a live chicken murdered and cut up as you wait. One cannot get much fresher meat than this.
The non-food substances are plentiful also. There are people selling anything they can carry, push in a cart, or set up on a street. You can get paintings and souvenirs of any type and variety. Some made in Dominican Republic but most are made elsewhere. Get your shoes shined, buy calling cards, cell phone parts, watches, jewelry (including rosaries), greeting cards, lottery tickets, CD and cassette tapes with typical Dominican music, and newspapers. They sell things for the home, mops (a story “I Bought A Suape” on the Dominican Gringas Blog) , brooms, shelves, mirrors, cane mats and junk that they picked up in the street. There is even a knife sharpener with an electric grinder on his cart.
After a night out it is quite normal for the locals to stop and get a late night bite from a street vendor selling hamburgers, hot-dogs or a pork sandwich. It is always fun to get something to eat on the way to the next destination. You know how a late night snack, or any snack for that matter, always hits the spot.