Dominican Cana lilyI was working on one of my client websites today, a florist in California and got to thinking this might be a good post for my DR site. During my years in the Dominican Republic we’ve bought flowers from the local florists many times. We’ve decorated a wedding reception, bought flowers and at times flower arrangements for the annual memorial of Jesus Death, hospital visits and yes you can buy your wife anniversary flowers here.

Now granted you can often find some pretty cool flowers growing wild on the side of the road (my wife usually get her ferns for arrangements that way), however most of us guys would rather walking into a shop and let someone else work out the arrangement for us. So here is what I’ve found over the years.

First it seems most towns will have a flower shop. I’ve found them in several of the small towns like Fantino, Altamira and Imbert. (more…)

(8/19/14) If you are one of the many people using services like EPS to have things shipped to the Dominican Republic you have no doubt been watching with interest the news about the new tax that is suppose to be applied to all online-line purchases.  Well, the good news for now is that the Superior Administrative Tribunal (TSA) has accepted an appeal against the Customs Department (DGA) which has at least for now stopped the tax from being applied.

My biggest worry about this on-line purchase tax was that it would be another reason for customs to open packages and apply random import taxes. At times these import taxes can cost more that what the package is actually worth. While I don’t (more…)

Carneceria Meat Market

Can I help you?

Something many foreigners have a hard time getting used to is buying meat. If you didn’t grow up on a farm then likely your version of meat is those neat little Styrofoam and plastic wrapped containers you find at the supermarket. Now, if you happen to live close enough to a larger supermarket like Jumbo or La Sirena then you can continue to view your meat as always sold in those neat little packages, but for the rest of us in the Dominican Republic…

Welcome to the Carniceria, The Dominican Meat Market!

Now, just to put this to rest, that angry looking guy in the image to the right, That’s Just for show!. Yes they do actually use machetes for just about everything including cutting meat. However, this guy is the owner of one of the meat markets in Fantino de Cotui and is actually very nice.

It’s not just about the Meat!

Well, it is just about meat, just not what we would always call meat. If you look closely in the picture you will see that there are hooves of, well something, on the counter. It also isn’t strange to find goat heads, cow heads, pig heads, you get the picture. Most carnicerias sell chicken, pig, and goat meat as well as beef. You can also find a lot of the other body parts that are not as frequently used in the States (well, except for in Hot Dogs).

Choose your Chicken!

Chicken is also a little different experience. At times they already have several chickens slaughtered, other times you can pretty well pick your chicken which is running around in the back of the store, they catch it, take it out back and 5-10 minutes later after the bird is killed, bled, and plucked it comes back to be chopped up with a machete, you pay a little more per pound if you want the innards cleaned out. A word of warning, stand back as they start chopping, or expect to get spattered!

Most places bleed the chicken properly, but if you notice the meat is pinker than normal you might want to ask them to try again and this time bleed the chicken longer.

Bleeding the animal is also a problem with pork. Most pork you find in the meat local meat markets is not properly bled. Many Dominican like the blood to remain in pork so the animal is often strangled or killed without bleeding it afterward. (more…)

Energy Cell La Vega Dominican RepublicOne of the necessities of living in the Dominican Republic is a cell phone. Few homes have the good old hardwired phone that we grew up with in the States so pretty much everyone, including kids, has a cell phone here. You have a choice of either using your phone from the States of buying a new one here. Either way you are probably going to visit a cell phone shop. One of shops I’ve worked with quite a bit is Energy Cell in La Vega, Republica Dominicana.

There is quite a variety of quality of phones available here. Cell phones can be picked up for a little as a quiniento or about $15 USD with the usual low end price being about 1500 pesos and the high end going over 16 mill (16 thousand pesos) for a blackberry or iPhone (at the Claro Store). The phones come prepared to be used here in the D.R so all you need to do is buy a provider chip, buy some minutes and you are ready to go.

If you want to pick up a little higher quality phone (which really helps with all the text messaging you will be doing here) and yet not get stuck on an 18 month long contract your best bet is to pick one up used. You can often find relatively recent iPhones and Blackberries a small percentage of the new price at phone shops. (more…)

Mercado OnLineA couple things are for certain with foreigners that have moved to the Dominican Republic. First they are going to have computers to use for contacting family and friends back home, work, or doing finances. Second those computers are going to eventually break down! Heat, humidity and dust are a computers greatest enemies (well, we might add viruses to the list), and the D.R. is well stocked with all three (once again add viruses to the list if you ever have to get something printed at one of the local internet cafes).

Now you are stuck with a pretty rough choice, wait until you visit the States to get you computer fixed or try to find someone here. It’s not that you won’t find friendly people willing to help you here; it’s just that too often they are very willing to help even if they don’t have the experience to get the job done right. With computers you have an extra problem, not only do you have to find someone who knows what they are doing, but because you likely have sensitive information on your computer, you also need to find someone you can trust not to go through your computer looking for information (pass codes, banking information etc.) that can be exploited (that’s not easy to find regardless of what country you are in!).

Mercado OnLine

After three years of living in the D.R. two of my families computers gave up on life. My computer was a HP pavilion that was poorly designed for being in a hot humid country. I repeatedly needed to completely disassemble the computer to reach the cooling fan which needed to be cleaned regularly. It would appear I waited too long once or twice and the excessive heat killed several chips on the motherboard. Likewise my son’s cheaper computer finally gave up. With my entire business being online I needed a computer NOW!

Computer Diagnostics

Fortunately I have quite a few friends here and they suggested I try Mercado Online in San Francisco de Macoris. In the past I tried an “Authorized Repair Shop” in the Capital, Santo Domingo to work on my son’s computer. You can read about that experience (more…)

Sambil Mall in Santo Domingo will finally be opening up. After years of delays the new mall is scheduled to be inaugurated on October 30th, 2012. This new mall will not only be bringing in quite a few foreign stores of interest to both ex-pats living here but also to locals looking to be able have a wider selection of American and other foreign products to choose from. Sambil Mall is also expected to in time bring over 10,000 new jobs to the Santo Domingo area.

Sambil Job Openings

Of the over 10,000 new jobs about 4,000 are expected to be directly related to the mall while 6,000 are expected as indirect mall related jobs. The new Sambil Mall Job Openings will be in a large variety of different skills. Along with the usual food, (more…)

I’m sure it comes to no surprise to anyone that processed meats like hot dogs, spam, and salami are not exactly what you should be calling health food! Still, most of us would assume (perhaps incorrectly) that certain standards have been met so that the “meat” does reach some sort of a reasonable quality.

Over the last few weeks there has been a lot in the news about the low protein percentage as well as the fecal matter that was found in salami that has been sold in the Dominican Republic. So to address this problem instead of requiring that the meat processors meet the standards the Standards and Quality Systems Agency’s (Digenor) Technical Committee took a more novel approach, officially lower the standards of the salami so that it can now be sold as meeting the official standards.

As reported in Dominican Today, the standards for the required protein content of Dominican Salami have been lowered substantially.

New Dominican Republic Salami Standards

(more…)

When people enjoy an exotic vacation it is pretty customary for them to want to take a little piece of the location home with them as a remembrance. While you can always head to a gift shop and buy a Dominican knickknack (usually made in china), it is sometimes nice to pick up something that is unique to the country. The Dominican Republic produces several items that are unique to here. One of the most popular items is Larimar, but there is also amber and a rather interesting blue amber that is found here.

Larimar is a semiprecious stone that is only found in the Dominican Republic. In fact it is only mined in one location (at least at this time), between Barahona and Bahoruco, Dominican Republic. Barahona also called Santa Cruz de Barahona is one of the main cities in the Barahona Province, in the south of the Dominican Republic.

Along with the larimar stone that is mined there Barahona is also known as an ecotourism port, for its “Barahona Type Coffee” and the Barahona Sugar Factory. Barahona is also a sea port.

Larimar Mines

One point I found particularly interesting is that most of the mines are more of family operations. (more…)

It’s Mango Season!

We’re starting to see mangos at the fruit stands again. There are several varieties that can be found in the Dominican Republic. I pretty much like them all but in particular there are some larger ones that often are sold by the pound that are my favorite. These can be easily sliced like filets so you don’t get the strings stuck in your teeth.

Bani Mango Fair

The town of Mani (the proclaimed Mango Capital) has a Mango Fair and Expo going on this weekend. The video displayed is in Spanish but gives you a little bit of an idea what to expect at this years mango fair. (more…)

Warehouse shopping at its best! If you find yourself missing wandering through the isles checking out bulk items while you are here in the DR, you should be happy to know there is a little taste of warehouse comfort in Santiago, the Dominican version of Costco, PriceSmart.

As you walk in the feeling is almost exactly the same. The food court is near the entrance which offers much of the same food like (more…)

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