Excitement in Paradise

I have been visiting another country outside of the US.  and it has been an exciting experience.  The country is the Dominican Republic , and I am truly experiencing every moment of it.   I wanted to emphasize a few details that I have been perplexed with.   My wife has warned me about a few things in  this country (which is actually her home town), particularly the lack of respect towars traffic laws. 

During my stay in the DR, I have witnessed and experienced the total disregard of rules and respect for others on the streets.  While driving on streets and avenues, various automobiles, trucks, and motorcycles run in front and around me like there is an apocalyptic emergency.  Especially the motorcycles, which travel on the opposite lane , run every stop sign, and do not stop or slow down while crossing intersections.  They run at high speed and do not seem to care about the safety of others.   People use horns to intimidate , particularly large truck drivers , and to warn others to get out of the way or to yield because they are about to pass by.   People often create additional lines of cars by trying to slowly pass others in close proximity.  


It is as if stop signs didn’t  exist, even though they can be seen everywhere. The lines on the roads are merely decorations. Traffic lights are rarely  obeyed.  Cutting people off and stopping in front while waiting at red lights is common.  Pedestrians , including children , cross the roads or stand between two lanes waiting to cross the road, while cars and motorcycles fly inches from their bodies.  It is truly a scary but exciting view.  It reminds me of an action movie.  I feel the same rush and adrenaline when I am playing a high speed  car racing video game.  Except that I am in real life. 
I started to regard stop signs as a reminder to hold my breath while  crossing  intersections (instead of actually stopping the car), and resume breathing afterwards.  People usually cross and then look , instead of vice versa.  I started hoping people will stop or slow down while I cross an intersection because if I don’t , I may not be allowed to cross myself.  It’s a survival of the fittest.  


Another interesting sight was seeing taxi drivers with cars that were literally falling apart .  Many buses did not have  a door and some cars didn’t have  license plates.   Some motorcycles and scooters had three or four people on them.  They also carry big loads of groceries.  The smell of burned gasoline is overwhelming.  


Keep in mind that the DR is a poor country and most people live in these conditions out of necessity.  So by no means am I  criticizing or judging the Dominican culture.  The food is great and people are very friendly.  There are many people who randomly came to the rescue when we had a problem with our car and needed assistance with  pushing and jumping the car’s batteries.  Others, still in their pre-teens, approached my car while at a red light and started washing my windshield.   Of course, many people expect to be paid but it is also part of their need to survive. 


Children play on the streets and a lot of elders sit on the corners watching cars go by. It is mainly a familiar and friendly environment.  But most people here drive as if they are always in a big rush and patience is rarely practiced.  When I return to the states, I will most likely be stunned by the tranquility and patience that people drive with .  But I would miss the familiarity and friendliness of the Dominican people.  

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