Gentlemen and their uniforms in the Dominican Republic.
I was tired of the routine, so one morning I took the camera and drove to a place that I had not been for more than a decade, the streets of Duarte and Paris. This is considered one of the most active corner in the Dominican Republic, where the clutter, garbage and people of all kinds abound. It has not changed much since the last time I visited, however I have noticed a better number of Haitian and Chinese stores. Here I present some of the people who managed to develop a routine in that place.
The day before the Lunar New Year, father and I went out to the local rural market and bought thousands worth of meat and vegetables, enough to feed 40 people for the two-days feast. When we stopped by the poultry stand he specifically told the butcher not to cut off the head and claws of the chicken because it is used to worship the gods.
The morning of the Lunar New Year, grandmother wakes up before the sunrise to prepare all the food for the ritual. Usually this is how we set up the table for the gods and the spirits of the deceased. It always includes three kind of sacrifices(三生); a bird, a fish and a pig. The table completes with three types of fruits and three sets of cups for tea and alcohol.
The burning of incense, silver and golden papers and Hell’s Bank Notes is also part of the ritual, this year mother bought some new model of notes, the 100,000 thousand bill resembles to the American’s 100 dollars bill and the 500,000 bill has the european map printed at back. The ritual begins by lighting up the incense to each small shrines we have at home, and we have to worship each god and ancestor before the incense burns out.
The shrine for ur ancestors and our Goddess of Mercy, Guanyin (觀音菩薩). The Ruler of Heaven (天官賜), he carries the responsibility for bestowing good fortune. The Earth God of Overseas (地主神), has powers to help gather wealth and protection to the ones that are not living in the homeland.
The Earth God (土地父), responsible for the harvest.
Hopefully this year will be good …
It was during my very first week at the University, I used to hang around with a sketchbook because making new friends was quite challenging for me. One morning while we were in the classroom waiting for the the professor to arrive, I was finishing a portrait, she suddenly came to my corner and then I never sat alone again.
Villa Hermosa, the place itself reflects nothing of the name that it was given. Perhaps the only beauty of the town are those who live in it, which mostly are immigrants from Haiti that have settled in and built their own houses with zinc plates and woods.
Recently I met eight years old Ramón who built his own toy based on caps and a bottle of mechanical oil. I also came across with María skipping the rope that she found on the garbage pile with one handle missing, which reminds me that I used to own one similar during my childhood. Not far from the little girl were nine years old Elías, who was playing Mancala with white pebbles that he collected on the ground.
Tomorrow, Dec. 25 in the Dominican Republic, while some children will find presents under the plastic pine tree left by Santa Claus. Others, however, will continue to play just like any another day with the toys manufactured with a little bit of garbage and a lot of imagination.
Every day after school they hold an empty Milex milk can under their arm and grab their shoeshine box and then walk 45 minutes from home to Plaza España. They make a living mostly at shining the cops and waiters shoes from the Zona Colonial, tourists rarely wear leather shoes. On a good day they can earn up to 100 pesos (around 1.70 euros), but there are days that end up empty handed.
That Sunday, under a hard sun we exchanged a portrait for an icecream.
Last week the South Coast of the Dominican Republic has been declared on red alert because of a tropical storm passing by, nevertheless people still went out on the streets enjoying the unusual rain and some even showering in it. They might look like hippies form the 70s’, but in reality this is just a way for them to shower without water limitations because of the lack of water supply.