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Lindsay de Feliz

Columnists > Lindsay de Feliz

Lindsay de Feliz

Marriage In The Dominican Republic

Posted by: Carole on Wednesday September 05, 2012 (03:22:44)   (5991 Reads)

Lindsay de Feliz

Not very many Dominicans actually marry, most just live together. Those who do marry tend to be from the middle and upper classes, probably because of the cost involved. To be honest is makes little difference as those who live together say they are married and call each other husband and wife. I remember standing next to my now husband when we had been living together for a few months and he was telling someone he was married, and I flipped my lid telling him I had no idea he was married, until he explained to me that he was married to me. However, if you do legally marry, the status on your identity card is changed from single to married, and that carries something of a status symbol.

Getting married is a fairly straightforward process, usually happening in front of a judge at the local council offices. The judge will also go to wherever you want, should you want a wedding in a different venue, usually at a hotel or on the beach.    more ...


Columnists > Lindsay de Feliz

Lindsay de Feliz

The Hurricane Season In The Dominican Republic

Posted by: Carole on Saturday August 04, 2012 (16:57:30)   (3082 Reads)

Lindsay de Feliz

The hurricane season starts on June 1 and runs through until the end of November. The Dominican Republic is right in the middle of the hurricane belt, so every year we check weather websites daily and try and predict if and when a hurricane will arrive. We look at squiggles and blobs coming off the West African coast, check wind directions, sea temperatures and the amount of Saharan dust in the atmosphere.

Hurricanes need warm sea temperatures, which is why that is important, and apparently the more dust there is, the less chance of a hurricane.
Hurricanes have alternating male and female names, and the same names are used in a 6 year rotation. However, if there is a big hurricane which causes lots of damage then that name is not used again. So no more Andrew, or David or George or Katrina.

It takes a while for a hurricane to develop. They start as a Tropical Disturbance or a Tropical Wave, and then become a Tropical Depression before morphing into a Tropical Storm which has winds of 40-74 miles an hour. Once the winds get to 74 miles an hour they are a Category 1 Hurricane on the Saffir Simpson scale.    more ...


Columnists > Lindsay de Feliz

Lindsay de Feliz

Death In The Dominican Republic

Posted by: Carole on Tuesday July 03, 2012 (16:45:04)   (4386 Reads)

Lindsay de Feliz

I have been to more funerals since I have been here, and seen more dead people here than ever before in my life. There is no stigma against photos of dead bodies in all their gory glory, and if you do an image search for anything on the internet, whatever it is, from chocolate to beaches, from recipes to transport, you will find pictures of dead bodies.

It is not surprising that there appear to be so many more deaths, as the health service and emergency services in particular, especially in rural areas, are not up to the same standards as say the UK or the USA. Heart conditions, diabetes and blood pressure problems are all on the increase, due in the main to a diet high in oil, salt and carbohydrates, and low in vitamins and protein. In addition exercise is in the main not a Dominican priority – most do not believe in walking anywhere – and medicines are often out of the financial reach of many to control their chronic conditions.    more ...


Columnists > Lindsay de Feliz

Lindsay de Feliz

Travelling In The Dominican Republic

Posted by: Carole on Friday June 08, 2012 (01:47:46)   (3764 Reads)

Lindsay de Feliz

Last week I had to travel to Sosua on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic in order to sort a new lap top. The old one was dying, two of the letters kept pinging off, the touchpad mouse no longer worked, back space didn’t work and it got so hot I was burning my fingers. I decided to go using public transport as petrol is so expensive at around US$5 a gallon. Using the car it would cost around US$50 and on public transport only US$10 and it takes only a little longer.

The journey started with a brisk early morning (6.30 am) walk through the barrio to the main road to catch the first bus, known as a guagua. The barrio is beautiful at that time in the morning. It is quiet, but several women are already up sweeping their little terraces in their nightgowns, and gathering the leaves and any rubbish from the street in front of their houses. Some were hosing down the street to keep the dust down. The dogs lay lazily in front of the houses in the early morning sun, not even bothering to raise their heads as I walked briskly past.    more ...


Columnists > Lindsay de Feliz

Lindsay de Feliz

Presidential Elections In The Dominican Republic

Posted by: Carole on Saturday May 05, 2012 (01:15:46)   (2677 Reads)

Lindsay de Feliz

On 20 May the Dominican Republic will vote for a new president, a process which happens every four years. Even though the elections are every four years, many presidents seem to have managed to last a long time. Rafael Trujillo was a particularly nasty chap who murdered anyone who he didn’t like, and he lasted 22 years as president before being assassinated. Balaguer was another president who had the job for nearly 30 years, helped by groups of thugs and supposed massive election fraud. In 1996 he was replaced by the current president, Leonel Fernandez. Fernandez was president for only four years, as that was the new rule, but having had four years out of power, he came back again and changed the constitution so that he could have two terms in office. Now he has to take another break but obviously he does not want to be totally out of the loop so his wife is running as Vice President.    more ...


Columnists > Lindsay de Feliz

Lindsay de Feliz

Birth In The Dominican Republic

Posted by: Carole on Wednesday April 04, 2012 (13:05:10)   (10151 Reads)

Lindsay de Feliz

Many people still have large families in the DR, basically because children are a form of pension. There is no social security, no state pension, and very few private pensions. Basically when you stop work the income stops too, hence all children will always send their parents money.

When it comes to giving birth, most women will go to the public hospital and those who can afford it go to private clinics. According to the World Health Organisation, the recommended rate of caesarean sections in a country should be in the range 5% to 15%. The rate in the Dominican Republic is 31.3%, only exceeded by that of Mexico at 39.1% and Brazil at 36.7%. The main reason for the high level of C- sections is that it is easier and quicker for the medical profession and also a way to make money out of the patient. If you are to have a C-section you have to buy blood – whether it is used or not, and when it is not used you don’t get the money back.    more ...


Columnists > Lindsay de Feliz

Lindsay de Feliz

Country Living In The Dominican Republic

Posted by: Carole on Monday March 05, 2012 (04:36:58)   (4765 Reads)

Lindsay de Feliz

Out of the population of 10 million in the Dominican Republic, around 30% live in the country, in small settlements known as campos. Life in the campo is very different from life in the towns and cities, due to the lack of infrastructure and lack of work. Poverty is rife, but someone the inhabitants of the campos survive, raise children who then often leave to find work in the towns and cities.

The houses in the campos are usually made of planks, sliced up palm trees, although the richer will build theirs out of concrete blocks. The poorest houses are made of twigs or sugar cane, woven together. The roofs are invariably zinc sheet. Inside the houses the floor will just be dirt, or concrete for those who can afford it. The number of rooms in the house, will again depend on how much money the occupants have. Those who can afford it have a bedroom separate from the living area, and some even have two bedrooms, one for the children. Otherwise the children sleep in with the parents.    more ...


Columnists > Lindsay de Feliz

Lindsay de Feliz

Electricity – Or Lack Of

Posted by: Carole on Sunday February 05, 2012 (23:54:08)   (3066 Reads)

Lindsay de Feliz

Normal life: You press light switch and there is light. When you want a shower there is hot water. When you want to microwave something you just nuke it. Unfortunately it is not quite the same here in the Dominican Republic.

The electricity cables are all over ground, and not on high pylons but more like bits of trees, with the occasional concrete post. These run along the side of the road and then other wires come off them into each house. The wires are stuck together with tape and, in most neighbourhoods, if you look skywards, you can see this electrical spaghetti. Most houses have no earth, and if one of the wires falls onto the zinc roof or when people hook their washing machine up to the overhead line, they are often electrocuted. There were 100 deaths by electrocution last year.    more ...


Columnists > Lindsay de Feliz

Lindsay de Feliz

A Cautionary Tale

Posted by: Jamie on Wednesday January 04, 2012 (20:16:28)   (6913 Reads)

Lindsay de Feliz

I have no idea whether a Sanky Panky is a breed found only in the Dominican Republic, or if they exist in other countries too. Here there are thousands. They are men who make a business out of relationships with foreign women, usually tourists. They will often, but not always, work in tourist businesses, hotels, bars, and tour agencies, and their main source of income is making foreign women fall for them, and then send them money on a regular basis. The most proficient Sankies will often have several women on the go at once. I knew one who had seven mobile phones, each one labelled so he knew the name of the woman who was calling him.

Often the women have been unable to find love in their own countries, or are divorced or widowed and lonely. Sankies are totally unconcerned about looks or age and can make a woman fall head over heels in love with them in days. The real income starts once the woman returns home, desperately in love with her Dominican man. Ten years ago, the ruses used to be a sick mother or they were hungry, or lost their phone and needed money for a new one. The women always send the money. Over the past few years though, the Sankies have become more demanding...    more ...


Columnists > Lindsay de Feliz

Lindsay de Feliz

Barrio Living

Posted by: Carole on Tuesday January 03, 2012 (23:18:51)   (4234 Reads)

Lindsay de Feliz

I live in a barrio in a little town in the middle of the Dominican Republic. A barrio is translated as a neighbourhood, or a suburb. However it is not quite wide tree lined roads with pretty detached houses and beautifully manicured lawns.

Each town has several barrios, and they all have names, most of which are totally incongruous such as Black Barrio and Pretty Barrio. The houses tend to be of all different kinds although some barrios will be poorer than others. My barrio has beautiful two storey houses next to brightly coloured wooden huts with zinc roofs.

The streets are all dirt, although for some strange reason there are pavements which no one uses as they all walk on the roads. When it is hot the dust gets everywhere and in the mornings and evenings all the women stand in the front of their houses with hose pipes watering the road to try and cut back on the dust. When it rains, the roads become a mud bath. Every road has a little gully running down each side where the dirty water flows from each house – a little like Elizabethan England. Luckily the sewage water goes into septic tanks.    more ...