Is the Dominican Republic safe? That’s a question I get asked really a lot. And the answer is simple… use your brains and think about it. In this article all tell you all about safety in paradise.
Safety in paradise. The Dominican Republic really is paradise. But what it paradise?
I think every person has its own definition of paradise. The local people are really “poor”. And by poor I mean, they don’t have the luxury of living in villa’s, having their own slow cooker and a big American fridge. Their houses are made out of corrugated iron. Most of these local houses don’t have electricity. Yet, the Dominicans are all happy with how they live. Being poor really is relative to the individual, I think.
For us, paradise means first of all home. A place where the sun shines, a fertile ground to grow fruits and veggies and more nature than manmade infrastructure. A place where life runs without the excessive needs of technology at your disposal. Out here, we really enjoy life outside.
To answer the question; the Dominican Republic is safe if you don’t wear expensive clothing, don’t go boasting around about having expensive stuff and don’t tell people that you have a big house with lots of stuff in it. Just be smart and blend in. Don’t bring have lots of money in your wallet or pockets because people will see it. And they will hate you for the fact that you have “a luxurious life” and stuff they won’t ever have. They will follow you back all the way to your home and wait for you to go out and rob you of all your expensive stuff.
The stories we sometimes hear are crazy! But almost every time it’s the fault of the gringo (foreigner) himself. Because he or she just wasn’t careful enough.
By now my wife and I have been stopped two times by the local police on the side of the road for very little reason. The first time a cop jumped in front of our car and caught me without my seatbelt, which isn’t really necessary here and told me to follow a guy on the bike. When we followed him and parked, he came to us and told in bad English – “the cop who pulled you over is a friend of mine. I told him to let you go, so give me money for it!” Then I asked him politely to write a ticket for nog wearing a seat belt. His reaction again in bad English – “you want a ticket? Oh sorry for stopping. Bye!” And he just turned around and got away on his bike.
The second time was trickier. A group of local cops stopped us because we look like gringo’s. Well actually my white wife looks more like gringo than me. He then asked me for the papers of the car, which I rented and obviously didn’t know where it was. He then took my driver’s license and asked for money. This time I asked for a ticket more bluntly, just to let him know that I know of these scam practices. After having a chat with their officer who almost begged me for some money – which I clearly didn’t give – he gave my driver’s license back and we drove away.
Luckily we heard about these scams and practises from some expats living here and knew what to do. But if you are on vacation and you get pulled over, they will really take all your money. If you give the money without asking for a ticket, they will just put the money in their own pocket. Writing a ticket costs time and administration. The Dominican people are really lazy people and so they won’t write a ticket because it doesn’t bring them more money.
Another example are the taxi’s and moto concho’s (motor taxi’s). We know from some people who lived here a long time, that they charge different prices for the locals and the gringo’s. The motor taxi’s charge usually 35 pesos (45 pesos is 1 US Dollar) to get you from one town to another. That’s usually a 10-12 minute ride. But when we ask for a ride, they charge somewhere between 250-400 pesos.
The taxis are even worse. They don’t stop for the locals because there’s no money to earn from them. When we pull over a taxi, it’s normal for them to charge 100 pesos from one town to another. But most of these drivers go overboard and ask 500 pesos (11 US Dollar) for a drive to another town.
Racism really is “normal” here. The locals know where the money is coming from and believe me, they will try everything to get a bit more money from the gringo’s. Can you blame them?
In the future I will write a full article about our experience with racism in the Dominican Republic.
Hope you guys enjoyed this article. Please let me know below in the comments section if you want to know more about living in paradise.