Saturday, May 22, 2010

There are ways around things - first, water

Now that you have experienced vicariously some of the problems I have faced, and perhaps for about as long, I want to explain (as previously promised) there are usually ways around most issues. You just need someone to tell you how: so it is best to keep your eyes wide open to what is going on around you; ask, ask, ask; or sometimes complain alot and soon someone will share some important information. They might seem like "secrets" but to the people here they may be so obvious, they didn't think to tell you (though in some situations the resolution is financially out of reach for the general population).

Water: When looking for a place to live you want to ask if there is a cisterna and a tinaco. The cistern is at ground level and is a large tank of water that fills when the city is providing water. Therefore, if the city's water is off for awhile, there is still some available to your home or apartment during this time. The tank (tinaco) is on top of the roof, pumped up from the cistern as an extra reservoir. This also helps if the power goes off, and therfore the water pump, gravity can still provide you with some water.

For drinking water, my mother and I were constantly buying water bottles, from 12 ounce to 1 liter bottles for 20 to 30 pesos per bottle. Use the money converter tool off to the right to find out what that is in US Dollars. You will change it from Dominican Republic pesos. Because you will be hot and thristy and sweaty, you can go through loads of money very quickly just for drinking water. Until you learn that you can get huge botellons of water for about 45 pesos (the same size of the water bottles we have delivered to homes in the States). Most people have them delivered here also, so add another 20 - 25 pesos for a tip.

There is an initial investment of 100 - 300 pesos for the bottle. Then some people buy the dispenser, some buy or create a wrought iron swinging mechanism to pour it. I set it on the top of my bureau, and tipped it carefully to fill a water pitcher that I chilled in the fridge. If you happen to buy the botellon bottle from one water company, but the local colmado (corner store - that also delivers - a very nice perk by the way in living here) only sells another brand of water, they will open the new water bottle and pour it into your bottle. I was a little worried about they hygiene of doing this over and over, but as long as I kept the bottle capped all the time, I figured it was okay for the short term.

It is quite entertaining to watch them pour the entire bottle of water - there appears to be a distinct technique that makes it successful, along with strength, patience and great focus. I am including here a video of this pouring process. Sorry that it is sideways, but it kind of makes it even more entertaining because it creates the illusion that the water is constantly about to fall out of the lower bottle. At the end of the video I show that there is not a single drop of water on the floor!

The Dominican Republic is a photographer's dream for many reasons, but one of my favorites is that everyone wants to be photographed. They often ask to be photographed if they see a professional camera. And it is very easy and comfortable to ask people if I may take their picture. Find someof those photos on: Fine Art America and

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