Trip to Santiago

March 14, 2011
By rteel BRONZE, Waterloo, New York
rteel BRONZE, Waterloo, New York
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
I have half a mind to join a club and beat you over the head with it- Groucho Marx

Two years ago, I went with my mother as a translator to the Dominican Republic. It was a business trip for her so I didn’t really enjoy myself. I am the only person who can say I went to the Dominican Republic and not visit a beach. Instead, I was in a inland city helping my mother understand what it was people were saying. One of the most memorable parts of this trip was when we rode in a Concho.

The Dominican Republic has two types of taxi. One is the traditional taxi; you call them, pay them and you and whoever you’re with can ride. The other is the “budget” version. This is the Concho. This is a small little car where you can ride for cheap but you have to share with total strangers.

I remember the whole time we were there that they’d make their presence known. Every time they drove by us as we walked, they’d do what they do to attract customers, they honk their horns until you are driven mad. They honk and pull up to the curb and shout out numbers. For example they might call out 3 meaning, we can take three people in the car. I remember the first time it happened having no idea what was going on.

Eventually, we had to submit to their pressures. We wanted a cultural experience. So after walking all day we took a Concho. There were eight people counting the driver in what appeared to be an old Chevy Malibu. I had to sit on some large sweaty guy’s lap for three blocks. Then he needed to get out. He said something unintelligible and I eventually had to maneuver myself out of his way to let him get out. Then about twenty seconds later a young Dominican girl got in to take his place. Then we reached our destination after about ten minutes, they are very efficient at least, the only compliment I can give them.

For a comparison, we took a taxi later. The driver was clean and the car was much more spacious. It also was just for us. The Concho also had six huge holes that looked very unsafe in it, all around the gas tank. This taxi was new. The man was quiet unlike the Concho driver who kept saying something over and over again in rapid Spanish. He said “gringos” about nine times. And he laughed along with one of his passengers. So, I’m curious what this joke was. Anyway, the taxi was a calm ride. The driver greeted us and took our bags. He had air conditioning, a feature the Concho lacked. The taxi driver also appeared to be a legal driver. He drove the crazy roads professionally and calmly. The Concho driver was swerving back and forth and swearing and laying on the horn. Also, the seats were clean. The Concho seats looked like it had been used as a party vehicle based on the number of discolored stains on the seats.

I certainly will never forget this event. It was a true culture shock. They don’t have Conchos here in the States and for good reason. Being stuck sitting next to fat sweaty strangers in a personal proximity isn’t ideal. But it certainly was something that I won’t forget soon. And, I have to admit, as a one time thing, it was fun.

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