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Dominican Towns & Taino Words

Dominican Towns & Taino Words

Taino Language Used Today | Funny Names Of Dominican Towns Translated

Many words that originated from the Native Taino Indian Tribes are still used today. These Taino words are still in use in Dominican Republic and throughout the World.

Have you ever wondered what the names of different towns and barrios around the Dominican Republic mean? Check it out, some can be quite funny.

Taino Language Used Today

The Taino Indians were some of the original inhabitants of the island of Hispaniola. When the Spanish arrived they adopted many of the indigenous peoples’ words into their own vocabulary. Many of these words are still used throughout the world today. Just think, you may have been speaking the Taino language and you didn’t even know it.

Taino art found in the Caribbean Sea
Taino art found in the Caribbean Sea

Arepa – corn tortilla or type of cornmeal bread or cake (Arepa recipe)
Barbacoa – a platform held aloft on legs. Used for many things but widely known to be a barbecue when it was used for cooking
Bohío – straw hut
Borinquen – land of the valiant, the Taino name for Puerto Rico
Boricua – people from Borinquen (Puerto Rico)
Hamaca – hammock
Huracán – hurricane
Cana – type of palm
Caiman – type of crocodile
Cacata – tarantula
Carey – sea turtle or tortoise
Cayo – small barren island
Cazabe – Cassaba bread (more info on cassava and yuca)
Chin – a small amount
Chinchilin – blackbird
Cibao – land within mountains
Cojoba – loose tobacco
Cocuyo – firefly or lightning bug (in Dominican legend cocuyos are known as Nimitas)
Fututo – horn made with a snail or conch shell
Guacara – a cave
Guaraguao – a kind of hawk that eats small animals
Guano – type of palm
Guay – expression of pain (in Dominican Spanish they say “Guay mi Mai”)
Higuaca – type of parrot
Hupia or Juipa – a spirit or ghost of the night
Iguana – big lizard
Jaiba – small crab

A cute little Jaiba Crab
A cute little Jaiba Crab

Lambi – conch meat
Licei – brave and daring (the name of the baseball team)
Mabi – very popular fermented beverage
Macana – a policeman’s stick (known as a Garrote in Spanish)
Macuto – a basket woven with palm or cane leaves
Manati – the sacred marine animal (more information of the Sirens)
Maní – peanuts
Maraca – musical instrument
Nagua (a city in DR) – breechcloth
Quisqueya – also spelled Kiskeya (it is the name given to this island by the natives) – mother of all lands
Sabana – large valley or plain
Sapo – type of frog
Tabacu’ – Tobacco
Tureyro – sky
Yarey – type of palm

Funny Names Of Dominican Towns Translated

Names of places and towns/ barrios, cities/ cuidads, and streets/ calles in Dominican Republic and their English translations.

Many times when you try to translate a word from any language to your own the idea is lost in the translation. Some words can end up to be quite funny when you use the literal English translations. Hope you get a little laugh as I did. Maybe when you come to visit you might want to pass through the towns named “The pool of flies” or “hanging dogs”.

Ahorca los Perros – Hanging Dogs
Bajos de Haina – Haina Downs
Bocacanasta – Basket Mouth
Castañuelas – Little Castanet Town
Castillo – Castle Town
Correa y Cidrón – Belt and Big Sider
Dajabón – Give Soap
El Aguacate Adentro – The Inside Avocado
El Cachón de la Rubia – The Blondie’s Big Crab
El Hoyo de Chulín – Little Gigolo’s hole
El Peñón – The Big Rock
Elias Piña – Elias Pineapple
Enriquillo – Little Henry
Esperanza – Hope City
Francisco Villaespesa – Frank Thick Village
Jacinto de la Concha – Jason of the Shell Street
Jobo Bonito – Cute Plum
Juana Saltitopa – Jane Jump and Touch Street
La Cañada del Diablo – The Devil’s Ravine
La Descubierta – The Discovered One
La Otra Banda – The Other Side
La Piscina de Moca – The Pool of Fly
Los Guandulitos – Little Slackers
Las Matas de Farfán – Pharpham’s Trees
Los Mameyes – The Orange Colors
Los Pepines – The Pickles
Los Tres Brazos – The Three Arms
Los Tres Ojos – The Three Eyes
Luis Cambiaso – Louis Big Change
Mano Guayabo – Guava Hand
Mata Barraco – Kill Pork
Matahambre – Kill Hunger
Monte Plata – Silver Mount
Mono Mojao – Wet Monkey
Padre Las Casas – Father the Houses
Sabana de la Mar – Sea Plain

Fishermen at Sabana de la Mar
Fishermen at Sabana de la Mar

Sabana Larga – Long Plain
Sabana Perdida – Lost Plain
Sabana Yegua – Mare Plain
Tamboril – Little Drums
Valverde – Green to Go
Villas Agrícolas – Farming Village
Villa Altagracia – High Thanks Village
Villa Consuelo – Consolation Village
Villa Faro – Lighthouse Village
Villa Francisca – Frances Village
Villa Juana – Jane Village

Christmas Town Traditions

Traditions in Different Towns and Barrios in the Dominican Republic

Many of the towns throughout the Dominican Republic have their own special traditions for Navidad.

Christmas | Songs | Decorations | Traditional Foods | Town and Neighborhood Traditions | Children – Three Kings Day | El Burrito de Belén song and lyrics | Christmas Words | Picture Collection – Christmas in Colonial Zone and Dominican Republic

Throughout the Dominican Republic you will see Navidad decorations. Many of the streets are adorned with lights, trees and other unique items.

Many neighborhoods make their own decorations

Most of the street decorations in the neighborhoods are purchased by the Junta de Vecinos (these are the locally elected governments, that are elected, voted on by the neighborhood, to take care of representing them when there is a problem and setting up events). The few months before December you may see some bake sales and people selling crafts and other items. The money collected goes for the purchase of the neighborhood decorations and sometimes for a band or entertainment for the neighborhood and anyone that happens to join in.

Decorations by the Junto de Vecinos San Lazaro about recycling

Colonial Zone

In Colonial Zone there are many different parties throughout the holiday season. Some times entire roads are closed for a big band to set up and play so everyone can dance and enjoy throughout the night. Other times the neighbors get together in their local park and share food and drink.

Some Perico Ripiao being played under some Christmas decorations

The old neighbors and families usually come back to their neighborhood to meet and greet old friends. To see some videos I took of one of the parties and park picture go to my blog (opens in new window).

La Vega

The town of La Vega celebrates la Verbena de Navidad. In this celebration the entire town parades through the street celebrating and enjoying. Lines of people hold hands, walking behind the town’s band of musicians. The tempo of the parade picks up and you have to run to keep up with the multitude of humans. As the parade nears its finish people are running, still holding their hands. You best keep up with the crowd or you tumble to the ground. Many lose shoes and other items, but it is a good time and a fun tradition

I will add more as I learn about them…

Feliz Navidad! Feliz Navidad!
Feliz Navidad! Prospero año y felicidad!
Feliz Navidad! Feliz Navidad!
Feliz Navidad! Prospero año y felicidad!

Continue…Christmas Words.

Iglesia – Fuerte Santa Barbara

Iglesia y El Fuerte de Santa Bárbara / Church and Fort of Santa Barbara

Iglesia de Santa Bárbara / Church of Santa Barbara now known as Catedral Castrense Santa Bárbara de los Hombres de la Mar

The Iglesia and Fuerte of Santa Barbara is one of the oldest churches built within a fort in the colonial period. It is a UNESCO World Historical Site. The church and fort were originally built separately. The church was constructed in 1537 and the fort was built later because the location was very strategic for the protection of the city of Santo Domingo.

La Catedral Castrense Santa Bárbara / Iglesia Santa Barbara | El Fuerte de Santa Bárbara / Fort of Santa Barbara |

La Catedral Castrense Santa Bárbara

On Tuesday February 4, 2020 the newly rescued and restored Iglesia de Santa Barbara became known as Catedral Castrense Santa Bárbara de los Hombres de la Mar, or the Santa Barbara de la Mar Cathedral. The Roman Catholic Church in the Dominican Republic announced that the Church of Santa Bárbara will now officially be the second Cathedral in the Ciudad Colonial. The Santa Barbara Cathedral is now the seat of the newly-named Military Diocese, Diócesis Castrense.

The newly renovated church with the statues of Santa Barbara and St. Francis of Assisi. La Catedral Castrense Santa Bárbara
The newly renovated church with the statues of Santa Barbara and St. Francis of Assisi. La Catedral Castrense Santa Bárbara

The statues in the front of the newly ordained Cathedral are the martyr Santa Bárbara de Nicomedia Patron Saint of armorers, artillerymen, architects. The second is St. Francis of Assisi the Patron saint of Animals, Merchants & Ecology.

The church is a single long building with five distinct sections, as can be seen from the outside of the building. The original church building was made of royal palm. Later, in 1537, it was rebuilt in stone. The blocks were quarried from this very site as were the stone blocks for many monuments and buildings of the era.

The interior of the church has eight distinct chapels each are from very distinct and are from different eras.

Church and Fort Santa Bárbara
Church and Fort Santa Bárbara

The building has been damaged many times throughout its history. Both the Fuerte and Iglesia were heavily damaged by a hurricane in 1591. Then earthquakes in 1673 and 1684 did extensive damage to the Iglesia. The Pirate Francis Drake did severe damage to the church when he invaded the island in 1586. Each time the church was repaired something new was added to the structure. It is interesting to note that the ceiling of this historical monument is still covered with the original bricks.

Juan Pablo Duarte was baptised in the Iglesia Santa Bárbara
Juan Pablo Duarte was baptised in the Iglesia Santa Bárbara

The Iglesia Santa Barbara boasts to be the place where Juan Pablo Duarte, The Father of the Nation, was baptized on February 14, 1813.

Interesting stories surrounding the Iglesia and Fort

There are many crypts under the church that recently have been discovered. There are also bones in the walls and a newly discovered cemetery in the Plaza surrounding the church.

“Las Vírgenes de Galindo” / “The Virgins of Galindo” – Three young sisters and their father were massacred in 1822 by Haitian invading forces. – Cesar Nicolás Penson said in his works “Cosas Añejas”

A story about The Restoration of the Iglesia and Fuerte Santa Bárbara on the Colonial Zone News Blog.

El Fuerte de Santa Bárbara / Fort of Santa Barbara

Fuerte de Santa Bárbara shooting platform
Fuerte de Santa Bárbara shooting platform

The Fort of Santa Barbara is the only fort with a church inside. The church was built first and later when the fort was built both structures were incorporated together. This is a very unique thing to have a fort and church entwined. The bunker for the fort is attached to the church.

The city of Santo Domingo was a walled city but the north section of the city did not have walls built until 1686. Building the fort in this furthest section of the city was an important step in the fortification of the city.

Fuerte de Santa Bárbara shooting platform cannons
Fuerte de Santa Bárbara shooting platform cannons

This fort was part of the third stage of protection for the city. Construction began in the early 1540’s and the final phase was completed in the early 1700’s. It was designed by an Italian builder and a Spanish stone cutter. The fort and church, as with most of the Spanish settlement, was built by slave labor by African and the Indigenous island dwellers.

The end of the 17th century brought constant attacks to all the Antilles Islands. This fort was a bunker facing the mouth of the river Ozama thus giving it an excellent view of the entry port. It was a very strategic location for the strength of the city of Santo Domingo.

Santa Barbara Today

Santa Barbara street art
Santa Barbara street art

The barrio of Santa Barbara where the fort and church are located is a good place to visit. It is a typical Dominican barrio that has a small town feel. There are some great art works and graffiti covering the walls of many of the buildings. Many of these buildings are in need of repair and are abandoned but the facades on many of these buildings are incredible.

Iglesia y Fuerte de Santa Bárbara side wall held up with bars
Iglesia y Fuerte de Santa Bárbara side wall held up with bars

The church, fort and plaza have been completely restored and is open for visiting. The renovation work which has taken many years to complete is beautifully done. The bronze monuments and statues in the Plaza and the Fuerte Santa Barbara are beautiful. The interior of the church, now officially is a Cathedral, is amazing. The stained glass windows, the statues and adornments inside the church and the chapels are a must see. This place is a place that everyone needs to visit when you are in the Colonial Zone.

Here is a picture that was taken February 17, 2019 of the renovation work being done. It is looking great.

Remodeling the Iglesia and  Fuerte Santa Barbara is coming along.
Remodeling the Iglesia and Fuerte Santa Barbara is coming along.

If you visit Santa Barbara make sure to climb up the ramp to the top of the shooting wall of the Fuerte Santa Barbara. The wall is lined with cannons and in the center is the giant statue of Saint Francis of Assisi. The catwalk along the wall is easy to climb and the side of the walk towards the river is blocked off. There is a very nice view of the Colonial City of Santo Domingo and the Rio Ozama from the top of the fort wall.

The view from high atop Fuerte de Santa Bárbara shooting platform
The view from high atop Fuerte de Santa Bárbara shooting platform


: From Calle el Conde go south up Calle Isabel la Católica or Calle Arzobispo Meriño (both of these streets lead to this monument). Walk about 6 blocks almost to Av. Mella at the far end of the walled city, Colonial Zone.

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