Silly Things Dominicans Do

Silly Things Dominicans Do


  • Ahorita
    • In the rest of the Spanish speaking world (at least the parts I’ve come to know) ahorita means RIGHT now. Here, ahorita means in a little while, OR a little while ago. Needless to say this created a little confusion.
  • Limón = lime.. and lemon
    • Again, another word that is not only counter-intuitive for English speakers but contrary to other countries that I’ve drunken juice in.
  • Insist on feeding you until you’re in physical agony.
    • “But, John you barely ate anything!!” As I finish cramming my stomach so full of food that its actually backed up through my internal organs into the top of my throat. Like the lines at the bank during December of 1999. It’s common knowledge that doñas here really like to try to fatten up both their children and especially volunteers, though the reasoning isn’t necessarily clear. The theory is it’s a point of pride about their cooking and how well they treat us; and since none of us chubby volunteers have been killed, cooked and consumed by our family yet, we’re sticking with that until proven wrong.
  • Yell everything.
    • This is a nation full of actors and actresses; and they’re good. Street basketball games are half dribbling and half yelling and smacking the back of your hand into the palm of your other while veins bulge out of your neck and spit flies from your mouth. Meetings are a mess of incoherent screaming that always threatens to turn into violent chaos until you realize that they all agree on whatever small scheduling issue was brought up.
  • Put sugar in your coffee when they know you don’t want it.
    • The recipe for Dominican coffee is something like 60% sugar and 40% coffee, and you will never meet a Dominican who wants their coffee bitter. I established early on that I like my coffee bitter and black, but every once in a while my family will put a little sugar in there. I’m easy going so I never say anything and they take that as I want them to continue, so they start slipping it in every day; until I set the record straight and we reset to bitter coffee. Yet the cycle continues..
  • Put sugar and oil in everything else.
    • Cook in oil and pour it over the top.
  • “Si Dios Quiere”
    • There is a really popular saying here that is essentially God Willing and for the most part it is used to say that if I don’t show up to a meeting, or class, or come to pick you up at the airport it’s because it wasn’t meant  to be.
  • Spaghetti Sandwiches
    • Carbs on carbs on carbs.
  • Arrive late to absolutely everything
    • Maybe “ahorita” has something to do with it. Dominican time is its own, well known dimension.
  • Call actors by their character names.
    • Paul Walker will always be known here as Brian O’Conner.
  • Call the USA, New York
    • Due to the massive Dominican population in intercity New York, tons of people who have family in the US, only hear about New York and that’s the extent of their knowledge of the country. It’s always “where in New York are you from?”
  • Insist on blaring music in inappropriate places.
    • There is only one noise level here and it is deafeningly LOUD.


Beautiful Things Dominicans Do

  • Dance
    • From the earliest ages people are dancing, and not the dirty sweaty grinding we do in the west. They learn batchata, merengue, salsa and they dance them beautifully.
  • Battle to the death to give you a place to sit.      
    • It doesn’t seem to matter how little people have here they are always willing to help others and share what they do control. My host mother came to me one time almost in tears after a big group of neighbors had been hanging around during lunch and she had fed them all. Without hesitation she gave every one of them a plate of food and something to drink. Yet, after they left she confided that she couldn’t afford to feed all of these people and that they always come around during lunch. The simple solution to me seemed, well, tell them to stop. But, she didn’t even consider that an option.
  • Spend all their free time with their families.
    • The culture is so collective here; it can be a little overwhelming at times. Dominicans are constantly surrounded by friends and family and wouldn’t have it any other way.
  • Feed you incessantly every time you’re around.
    • There is nobody happier than a doña receiving compliments on her cooking while feeding a content volunteer, friend, or neighbor.
  • Guilt you every time they see you for not coming to visit them enough, no matter how long it’s been since you last visited.
    • While Dominican guilt can make you grind your teeth until the roots bleed, the sentiment behind it couldn’t be sweeter if it was Dominican coffee. Life moves so slow here sometimes. It’s a tough thing to get used to as an American. When you’ve got your head down marching to the next thing you want to accomplish, it’s difficult to remember to relax and go sit on a neighbor’s porch, chat a bit over blaring music and push yourself a little closer to type 2 diabetes with a hot cup of coffee.

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