dominican-republicIt’s hot! It’s lively!  It’s Polite!  A short list of suggestions that might make your trip more enjoyable.

1. It’s hot!  Bring a good supply of easy to wash and quick to dry cotton shirts and skirts.

2. It’s polite.  Women generally do not wear shorts in the city.  Even though “gringos” and local youngsters get away with wearing tight jeans and spaghetti-strap cutaway shirts, women (and men) will be more respected if they dress tastefully and with respect for social norms.  Never enter a church without your arms at least partially covered.

3. It’s lively.  Dominicans are a fun-loving people who virtually merengue or batchata (dance) their way through life.  There will be music and movement everywhere.  Join in and you will be welcomed with laughter and open arms.

4. It’s late.  Time means nothing to Dominicans.  Ma?ana, ma?ana.  No use getting upset about it.  Be patient and keep cool by joining in late-night dining, strolling, dancing, and drinking local beer.

5. It’s a shopper’s haven, but cuidado (be careful).  Be sure that the amber you’re buying is really amber and not plastic.  And do indulge in a piece of larimar; the semiprecious stone is only mined in the Dominican Republic.

6. And as with any overseas travel:  If it isn’t cooked, peeled, or purified, don’t eat or drink it.  Water and ice in decent restaurants can be trusted to be purified.

Elayne Clift is a writer in Saxtons River, Vt.  Her latest book is ACHAN: A Year of Teaching in Thailand (forthcoming).