Saturday, February 11, 2006

"Living" in the third world

El otro dia estaba chatiando con "Yomaira", que vive en NJ, y no se como llegamos al tema, pero termine explicandole que es un tinaco, que es una cisterna.

Decidi hacer un post para futuras referencias de como vivir en el tercer mundo.


Apagón: A power shortage. This is very frequent in dominican republic. It hapens several times every day for many many hours. Along with apagones comes los chorros de la nevera, the mosquitos, and boredom. Atraso is also comes with apagones.
There is no country that can hechar para alante with apagones. Thats a fact.

So for apagones we have:

A Planta: This is a generator. Many people have plantas at home or at work. If a colmado doesnt have a planta, the beer wont be cold, and they go out of business before you can say berengena. Beauty salons cannot succeed without a planta. They charge extra money to the clients when the planta is on.
Some people use the planta to charge their inversor (pronounced IMBELSOL [eembellsol]).

The Inversor: This is a power inverter. In a very cientific way, a power inverter converts 12 V DC to 110 V AC. In other words, is like a battery pack for your house. An inversor is useless for salons and colmados because hairdryers and freezers drain the power from the inversor in very little time. Plus, batteries are very expensive, and since there is never luz to charge the batteries, you still need a planta to charge the batteries; so its pointles to have an inversor for this purposes. But inversores are great for home use. You can have an inversor hooked up to some lightbulbs, a TV and a fan, so you have a lit up house, and still be able to watch tv confortably without the mosquitos draining all your blood.
Forget about solar panels, windmills and hydro-electrics. This are too expensive for the average dominican.

Now, for Water Supply, we have:

The Bomba: This is nothing less than a small water pump for home or business use. A bomba takes water from a source, and pumps it to its destination. There are many ways of having a bomba bombeando water to your house.

The bomba ladrona (thief pump): this is a 1/2 HP (or lower) water pump used in those places where the water preasure that comes from the waterpipes is too low.

Another type of bomba is the normal bomba we all know, usually a 2 HP bomba wich pulls water from a CISTERNA, and then up to the house or appartment. A cisterna is like an underground pool covered by a tapa de cisterna. No, wait...Nobody swims in cisternas. Think of it, as an undeground concrete water tank.

The Tinaco: This is a big water tank, usually round and white, that gets filled up by a bomba that pulls water from a cisterna or it may also be filled up by a bomba ladrona, depending on the height of your roof. Almost everybody in santo domingo has a tinaco. If you ever get the chance to go to parque mirador, take a few seconds to look at the panoramic view of the city. The city of santo domingo should be renamed to tinaco city. We all have tinacos, from all shape, sizes and colors.
The thing about tinacos is that they grow algae (green water) because of the sunlight. So people get raquiña and ñañaras all the time, if the tinaco is not cleaned every now and then.

The same goes to cisternas. People never clean their cisternas, since they never look at them. A cisterna has to be cleaned at least once every 6 months, and a monthly dose of chlorine is also recomended.

Some people are paranoid about water, like my family for example. We have a 5,000 gallon cisterna that takes water from the waterpipes, and we use a bomba tu pump it to a 500 gallon tinaco in the roof. So when the power goes out, and the planta doesnt work, then we can have water from the tinaco come down by gravity. Sounds complicated? NONSENSE! wait untill you read on...

No I would like to take some time to talk about Waste management:

El camion de la basura: This is the garbage truck, wich is equipped with the loudest, most annoying horn in the market. I still dont understand why everytime the truck makes a stop it has to make such noise.

Recycling: Dominicans have a very good sense of how important the enviroment is. Thats why we recycle. But our recycling system is not as efficient as the one in the states. We recycle things like the dish washing soap cubitos. Instead of throwing them away, we use them to store the reamining habichuela del mediodia. Another good example of recycling is foam. Poor people who live in little houses with techo de zinc, melt foam cups with gasoline to cover the little holes in the celing. A tube of sillicone is expensive, and the gases emited by it is harmful to the medio ambiente. We also recylce tusas, wich is the bone of the corn. I refuse to describe how dominicans use tusas in order to keep the integrity of this website.

There is a really funny anecdote of why is the barrio of Vietnam called like that. I will explai this in another post.

All the garbage collected by the camion de la basura goes to duquesa. Sometimes duquesa gets angry and catches fire. Sometimes duquesa gets really smelly and the whole santo domingo smells like duquesa.

Now, on to my favorite... Public Transportation:

Carro publico: this translates to public car. There are no carro publicos in the US. They only exist here in dominican republic, and are well known for their incredible law breaking ability .
The average carro publico is a 1989 or earlyer Datsun or Toyota Corolla, equipped with a Propane Gas System. Yes, they run on propane gas. Just think about all the security risks you get when you put togeather an old car, a very poor installation of a propane system and 8 people. You would inmediatly assume that carro publicos blow up all the time, and many many people get killed. But for your suprise, not a single person has been reported dead for an explosion of a carro publico. More people die in aghanistan for a car blowing up than here in DR.

But carro publicos are not the only ones running on propane. Even yipetas and mercedes have a propane system. Why? because its way cheaper, and people rather blow up and save some money than loose money and be safe. Just think of all the presidentes you can buy by switching to propane. My friend Fernando has a propane powered skoda and he gets twice the kilometers per peso than me. That means he saves about 500 pesos every time he fills up his tank. A presidente costs 35 pesos in a colmado, thats about 14 presidentes. He can have 2 presidentes every day, and still have some money to buy some masitas.

Guaguas: a guagua is nothing more than a public bus. There are many types of guaguas. There is the OMSA, the OMSA con aire, The OMSA gusano wich is the long one that looks like a worm; Then we have the smaller ones called pollitos and the minibus (pronounced meeneeboo). Guaguas have no A/C, unless specified. Guaguas with A/C are more expensive, and people hardly ever use them. All guaguas, except the OMSA have a cobrador. The cobrador is the guy hanging from the door that indicates the route of the guagua, and is in charge of getting all the monetary fees from passengers. He's also in charge of making all the signals to the other drivers that the bus IS GOING THAT WAY, so they HAVE to stop, and let them pass, because they are bigger, and they will fuck up your car if you dont let them pass, because they have a huge defensa. The chofers of the guaguas are highly illiterate people, and they think they know all the laws of traffic. They even make their own, and they are allways right. Cobradores are very well know for being ass grabbers. If you are hot and good looking, be careful when stepping out of the bus, or the cobrador will grab your ass.

It is a known fact that many people get mugged in carro publicos at night, thats why people take taxis at night. But im not talking like in NYC that you just stand in the sidewalk and a taxi will pass you by every 2 minutes. You have to call a taxi company, and they will radio a unit for you. Be careful when getting in a taxi. You have to ask the taxi company for the color of the taxi, and the number, or a burglar could pick you up on his taxi and steal all your belongings.

There are many other things you have to do to survive in the third world. You have to pay for the apagones, you have to pay for the mantainance of the planta, inversor, cisterna, tinaco and bomba de agua. You have to pay expensive carros publicos, wich make the everyday traffic a living hell, and the best of it all....


Thank you Chaotically Serene for the inspiration...I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoyed writting it.

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