Tag Archives: scare

Basic Helps

Basic Helps and Important Travel information

Colonial Zone – You will hear it called many different names. Zona Colonial, La Zona, The Zone, Ciudad Colonial, Ciudad Trujillo, Santo Domingo.

For travel information and warnings given for UK, USA, Canada:

*United States Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs. For travel information. In case of emergency in Dominican Republic – United States Embassy in Santo Domingo. Call 809-221-2171 for help 24 hours a day.

*United Kingdom Foreign & Commonwealth Office. UK travel information

*Canada Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Canada travel information

Drugs and Dominican Republic are a real no-no. If you do get caught with ANYTHING they will take you to jail and it most likely WILL be a long time before you get out. Even if you are in a place and you see some drugs or drug dealing my advice to you is to get out of there and fast! Here in DR they are known to arrest everyone in a place and ask questions later, sometimes much later. (Read The Dominican Gringa Blog story on the Big Almost Drug Bust -new window)

Truck delivering the large jugs of bottled water called Botejon de Auga
Truck delivering the large jugs of bottled water called Botejon de Auga


DO NOT DRINK THE WATER! You could get the runs or worse. Drink bottled water, which most places have unless you are in remote areas. Ice is usually OK also because it is purchased from water distributors and is clean (ask if you want to make sure). The shaved ice vendors, ice in your juice or coco water that is purchased in the street is a definite NO-NO. It may not be a problem but even if you change your water anywhere from well water to city water you can have unwanted results. Why take the chance and have a bummer (LOL!) of a vacation?

Do just as you would in any other place. If you were in a strange neighborhood and there was a lonely, dark street or alley would you walk down it? I don’t think so. Use your head; you are in unfamiliar surroundings in a country where many people make less than $200 USD a month working a full time job (44 hours a week). Do not act better than anyone else. Do not wear your best designer clothing and expensive jewelry.

Try and carry a noise maker. Be it a loud car alarm, a hand held one, or your outside voice. If you do get robbed make noise. Robbers hate noise and attention drawn to them. Vigilantism lives in
Dominican Republic and people love to help when they see someone being wronged.

Try some new foods. You never will know if you like it unless you try it. I highly recommend
Mondongo. Never ask what it is. Just give it a try, then after you like it you can ask what it is, if you’re brave. Mondongo is the best after a night out partying if you feel like you will have a hangover (Resaca in Dominican Spanish). At least this is what I am told and so far it has worked wonders! There is also medicine sold in Colmados (the corner stores) that you take for a hangover, just say ” resaca” and they will know what you need.

Clap when the Airplane lands. Dominicans normally do this. Don’t be shocked. If they do it on your plane, just join in. You are on vacation. Relax.

It is not only what you know but also whom you know that makes dealing with many things go much smoother here in Dominican Republic. I also suggest asking around. Talk to the locals and see which businesses they recommend. Also remember to take your time. Dominicans love to talk. They like to take things slow. It is too hot to get worked up over the little things. Take time, get to know who you are dealing with and just enjoy the chatter.

Lip Talk. Dominicans, especially women, talk with their lips or noses (sort of like a Bewitched thing). They do not use words, just a flick or twitch to the right or left or a quick pout. This says more than any word ever could. Maybe the lips puckered for a quick second is saying, “yea, right, sure, I believe you.” (sarcasm). When getting directions no need to point just a lip flick to the left, right or straight ahead and one knows just what direction in which to precede. It takes some time to figure out what all the movements mean but it is fun trying to learn. So if you see people, especially the ladies, making nose and lip gestures you now have a better idea what is happening.

Security guard with gun. It was a cold day in the city (about 75°F lol)
Security guard with gun. It was a cold day in the city (about 75°F lol)

Men with guns. Don’t let this scare you. It sure frightened me the first time I visited. I never saw people sitting around so nonchalantly with a gun on their lap or hanging over their shoulders in public areas. It is quite the norm to see men, uniformed and in street clothes, standing or sitting in front of homes and businesses. Don’t be too worried. They are most likely private security guards

Do not start any altercation with anyone. No exchange of harsh words. No physical contact. Walk away. Do Not fight. This is not easy sometimes but it is best for your safety. Remember if the police get involved EVERYONE goes to jail until they figure out the details (sometimes until they get a little payment).

Make copies of all your documents. Carry the copies (unless your driving you do need the original drivers license). Put a copy of your passport or some type of identification in each piece of your luggage. Always carry a copy of your passport with you in a different place where you have the original. Have all the numbers of your credit cards and contact information in case there is a problem or your cards get stolen then you will not have to search for the information. Scan everything front and back, Credit Cards, ID’s, Bank Cards, Passports and email them to yourself. This way if anything gets lost or stolen you have all the information right there.

Keep your doors locked. Keep the hotel doors locked if you are inside or outside. Keep the car doors locked, especially when driving at night in a rental or a taxi, just keep the doors locked. You can also get an alarm to put on your
hotel door for added safety.

Think twice before taking a stranger into your hotel room or car. They can rob you much easier this way. If taking a bed partner to your room make sure all your belongings are secure. Better yet, take the person to a Cabana (a sex hotel where you are charged by the hour) or another room someplace else. This way they cannot gain access to your belongings, documents and money.

Los Indios De Las Augas

Myths & Legends/Mitos y Leyendas
Los Indios De Las Augas/ The Indians of the Waters

These Indians are the fabulous beings who inhabit caves. They can be found in submerged caves of rivers and lakes or inside the mountain caves. It is said that these were groups of escaped Taino Indians who kept up with their old traditions and ways. In order to do this they had to stay hidden.

These Indians are said to be very beautiful, especially the woman, because of her dark eyes, smooth black hair, and cinnamon colored skin. These beautiful women leave the waters on the nights of the full moon to detangle their long hair with gold combs.

Interpretation of Los Indios De Las Augas by Artist-Illustrator Ray Wu

Some say they do not bother people and are quite generous. They share their knowledge of natural medicines and possess old and powerful magic. Others say that they are dangerous and fear to bathe in deep waters and unknown areas. Some say the indios de las aguas leave their caves to look for the men who may wander near. These men are taken to their caverns never to be seen again.

The children are warned not to sneak off to the “Pools of the Indians” because these Indians may take them never to be seen again. The “Mano Negra” will reach up from the dark waters and drag them into the water never to be seen again.

Do you think this is a way for parents to keep their children home at night and away from dangerous waters or could it really be that there is a dark hand waiting to pull them down forever to be lost…

El Cuco

El Cuco / El Coco / El Cucuy

El Cuco is a mythical monster whose origins can be traced to Spain. The legend of El Cuco is used throughout Spain and Latin America as a fright tool to keep the children off the streets late at night and to make them go to sleep. It is very similar to the Boogy Man in USA.

Interpretation of El Cuco by Artist-Illustrator Ray Wu with a little political humor to lighten the mood of this faceless child snatching creature

There is no real description of this mythical being. It is as if he has no form or shape. It is just a being that is more felt than seen. It is said he is able to shape-shift into all sorts of creatures. He can be your favorite animal or a nondescript shadow moving across the floor. El Cuco can become a horrible monster or make himself so small that he can slip through a crack, hide under the bed or in the closet.

In Dominican Republic El Cuco roams the streets and alleys looking for kids to take away in his sack. He can take the form of a hobo or homeless man Parents and grandparents alike tell the children if they do not go to sleep and fast that El Cuco will come and take them. Even worse if they are out roaming the streets unsupervised El Cuco will stuff them in his sack and take them away.

So be careful if you can’t sleep and you see a shadow with eyes glowing passing near your bed. Also, remember to never roam the empty streets alone. If you see a faceless man with a big sack it could be El Cuco….

*A few artists have used the name. Cuco Valoy, a Dominican salsa and merengue singer makes many references to El Cuco. Tonio Rosario has an album named “La Magia de El Cuco”. There is a trip music festival in Puerto Rico that uses the name of this nocturnal faceless creature.