21 April 2010

These Shoes Were Made for Walkin'

Actually, they weren't at all. I'm wearing filp-flops, and my feet hurt! I've been walking a lot since arriving in Santo Domingo. From the bus to the hotel, from the hotel to the dive shop, from the dive shop back to the hotel, and back and forth everyday. Probably 6 or 7km daily. Ouch!

I'm the sort of person that likes walking though. Something Dominicans just can't understand. I'm choosing to walk everywhere, even while there is easy access and cheap access to public transportation (buses, públicos, gua-guas, motoconchos, taxis). You can't walk 100 feet here without somebody offering a ride, whether it be for profit or out of generosity, and it's not just because I'm a gringo. Cobradores (or "chargers") hang from the sides of buses and shout at everybody they pass, soliciting passengers and telling them the destination.

A typical público.

The cobrador shouting to me from a rare new-looking público.


As you can tell by how people are packed tightly inside, public transportation is heavily used. This doesn't solve traffic problems though. It seems that if a person can afford a vehicle, he or she will have one. And it will be used for even the shortest errand. You find almost nobody walking. Here you can see traffic at a stand still, packed in the road with a wide-open sidewalk:

Stand Still

Even the small roads don't move at rush hour.

Empty Sidewalk

As much as I like walking, Santo Domingo is not the best place to do it. Pollution is absolutely terrible. After San Jose, Costa Rica, I thought I knew what urban Latin American smog was like. Santo Domingo, however, really out does it. Exhaust is so bad at times I can feel it in my lungs. I could never stay long in such conditions. Cancer rates must be through the roof! I've been tempted to take buses just to avoid the smog, but I'd be breathing the same air anyway. (What I need is to wear my SCUBA tank all the way home!).

This is a common (and frightening) sight while I'm out walking the city:


Some sag low enough that I have to duck underneath. Others, evidently not live, are cut and hanging all the way to the ground. It's a wonder these things don't just burst into flames or electrocute passersby!

I'm not sure what happens in there, but I'll steer clear.

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