Every time I return to Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic I’m reminded of the “good old days” as some are wont to say. Every morning the water truck comes through the neighborhood—it has about a 2,000 gal. tank of purified water and will sell it by the gallon. A little later come a couple of different vegetable trucks—local potatoes, carrots, cabbages, tomatoes, some kind of peppers and of course plantains—the saying goes, “In Santo Domingo they’re never short on plantains.” On the main roads you’ll see horse drawn wagons with produce, mangos, cherries, bananas, etc. Many go to the supermarket for their major grocery shopping but every block or two there’s a little grocery shop that stocks the basics— rice, beans, coffee, salt, milk, etc. Some of them still sell on credit, although most of them now require a deposit. And yes, there are still vegetable markets as well as some meat markets like that in the picture.
I don’t remember those “good old days” but I remember well some of the other joys of island living—the power is off at least a few minutes every day and last night we ate supper by candle light—no romance intended. We ran out of water today before the water truck came, but it was only for a few hours. The “joys” of bathing out a bucket, flushing the toilet with a bucket take me back to St. Croix. Here you know your neighbors—they come to visit, or you go there.
Yet it’s not all “old” most people have cell phones, at least one TV, there are internet shops everywhere, and many have their own car. In a strange mix of old and the new yesterday I saw a horse pulling a wagon and noticed the “blinders” it had were Styrofoam food boxes. And of course they were on the highway with the rest of us—there are not too many bridges across the River Ozama.
While many things are different the brethren are the same. I was received as a family member, even by those I’ve never met. To those I know I’m more like a long last family member. Everyone wants to feed you, or at least give you juice or coffee. They want to know about “the family” and the church where I preach. Some brethren are very serious about the Gospel, while others are just there. Some sing well and some not so well. There are good brethren and there are some not so good.
The Gospel works just as well in Santo Domingo as it does anywhere else—it fits in every culture and every time.