The news of the assault and the illnesses at the all inclusive resorts on the Dominican Republic that have circulated in headlines around the world. It is an indication of how isolated and far behind the times the Dominican Republic actually is that the local (and Spanish) owned resorts have neither accepted responsibility, offered to reimburse the guests, nor made an effort to counter the devastating international publicity which will negatively affect all the tourism of that nation while only a two of the hotels are involved.
During my 14 year stay there, I was always distressed that tourists who came down for their one or two week vacations only saw a small patch of beach, isolated from the local culture and breathtaking variety of the landscapes.
Perhaps these incidents will push the nation into developing a more varied sort of tourism in the form of "inclusive" packages which take tourists to the smaller boutique hotel around that beautiful country so they can experience the 11 different ecological zones.
And perhaps have the privilege, as I did, of at least catching a glimpse of the wonderful nature of the Dominican people.
I post, in their defense, a copy of an observation which I posted on DR1.com which is an English message board where ex-pats, Dominicans, and visitors swap information, questions, and observations.
My reflections -
"I found that friends in the same educational class might ask for a loan - and be very prompt in paying it back by the date that they said that they would so that they could establish the practice of coming back again.
If I had had a meeting at my place (we were all doing non- profit work) the women would all bring something- arepas or a tin of Vienna sausages.
That if you were lucky enough to be invited to for a luncheon, there would be the BEST tablecloth and three courses presented..
But if they came to my place, they were delighted with a bowl of soup and ACTED as if I had served three courses with the best tablecloth.
A few times the folks that worked for me in different capacities (secretary/translator/ assistant/maid/handyman) would come to me with problems - not asking directly for money but explaining the issue.- daughter was raped and needed counseling, started a business and got into credit card debt, ran out of money and needed food, wanted to return to Haiti and needed $200 more for the transport - in each and every case, they were exceedingly grateful when I stepped up and gave help and never again asked for anything.
My cleaning lady once asked for an advance on her salary - and I honestly simply did not have it. She said - well, if you don't have it, you don't. But then I went to the kitchen and pulled out rice and beans and got out a chicken from the freezer and gave them to her. She hugged the bag.
Later on she would say to anyone who would listen - "Ella vale was que dinero"
Which is how I absolutely thought of all of all of them.
I could not buy nor would never imagine to receive in the USA the care and devoted attention that I got from the Dominicans that I knew when I was ill - visits to the hospital, sleeping over at my house, rubbing my feet with menthol, making me soup, cleaning the house- just STAYING over.
I would add to Matilda's list that a Dominican friend will waltz into your house- go into your kitchen and make coffee and do any dishes that might be in the sink while you are there.
She will say she is hungry if she is - and proceed to help herself to what is in the fridge - setting out a small feast for you both from what you thought was an empty larder.
She will go through your closets with you, helping you decide what looks good on you, what ought to go to the tailors, what ought to be given away. And tell you HONESTLY.
She will remember when it is the birthday of you sisters, nephews, etc.. and remind you to get a card or a gift.
She will make sure that you are NOT alone at any holiday that is important. Most particularly YOUR birthday (even if you would rather not notice it)
She will invite you to the hospital to visit her newborn niece with the rest of the family (you must go), and call you to the hospital when her mother is dying (also a command performance), invite you to her wedding (optional).
I use the feminine pronoun because I was blessed with more women friends but I also had three very fine men friends even though it was explained to me that the belief was that men can not be friends with women. Obviously not true in practice.
I was blessed to have known them. They will always have a piece of my heart."