In most of the smaller towns of the Dominican Republic like Fantino and others the people are very friendly, laid back, and social. When walking down the street it is expected to greet everyone that you pass by, that includes the many people sitting out in front of their houses in small groups talking.

Common Greetings
Greetings very somewhat. The standard of course being “Hola” or hello. As you walk passed, it is also common to use “Adios” or goodbye as a greeting. Some will continue with “Como Esta Usted” or “how are you”. Often though you will get another greeting, it’s not uncommon for people to know just a little English and they love to practice it. So don’t be surprised to many of the standard English greetings.

While they see foreigners fairly often, we are still a bit novel to them. You will very often hear people mutter (or even shout) Americano as you walk passed, often you will hear it repeatedly from the group. Don’t take offence, for the most part people here like Americans and other foreigners, this seems to be more of a form of entertainment not in any way an insult.

O Yah, there are a couple more greetings you should expect to hear. First if you are white you will hear Rubio (male) or Rubia (Female). This is really a term meaning a person with blond hair. However, it’s applied to most people with light skin, you will hear them even call their lighter skinned Dominican friends that. The other you will hear gives the impression you just stepped on a snake. A hiss or “ssss” is very common to get your attention. More often then not this will happen with males trying to get a females attention or a female trying to get a males attention at least in this context. Women are at least as outgoing here as men are so yes guys, expect to hear some cat calls while walking down the street!

This is a great place to practice your Spanish. Almost all will welcome you stopping to talk and will find you a chair and call out “Entre” or enter if you give any inclination that you might be willing to chat a while. You won’t find this as much in the larger cities. To really get the feel of the Dominican Republic you should really take some time to visit one of these compo towns.

Staying Safe
Walking down the street in pretty much all of the DR including the Campos it’s important to remember that unlike the US and many of other countries, pedestrians do not have the “right of way” at least not in practice. While those in cars, motorcycles, and even large construction vehicles do not try to openly hit you, they also don’t really seem to try not to, at least not until the last second. You are expected to get out of the way and it is really in your best interest to keep that in mind at all times. Cars often use both side of the road, or just drive down the middle when there is no opposing traffic and often even when there is. When walking, always pay attention to what is happening all around you even behind you. YOU are responsible for your own safety.

It’s also good to remember when you are anywhere in the DR, foreigners are considered easy target. Usually this just means they are going to try to get you to pay a little more than something is worth, it’s good to have an idea of the prices of things before you buy, and be ready to dicker the price down if you are in the mood. If not, well, by foreign standards the amount they are going to “gouge” you for really isn’t going to be that much. On small items they may ask another 10- 20 pesos (36 pesos to the US dollar) and that extra 30-60 cents can mean having meat with their dinner that night. Not that everyone is poor here but in the smaller compos the vast majority are.

In addition to the minor ways, in which by far most of the people will try to get a little money from you, there is always the chance of more serious problems. People here DO NOT LIKE thieves. No they don’t count a little price gouging or miss counting in change in with this and minor thievery is rather common so they watch closely for this. However they take major stuff like being mugged very seriously. With this in mind you can feel pretty safe walking down the heavier traffic streets, if you call out thief! You will get attention.

Safety means using common sense! Don’t walk down deserted streets, don’t walk alone, and don’t openly flaunt your money or expensive possessions. When walking down the street, you’re likely to look like obvious tourists however, don’t wander around looking lost. Be aware of your surroundings, have a good idea where you are going or at least look like you do. Don’t walk down the street with your map open, a dumb look on your face and asking for help, put the map away, walk into one of the larger shops and ask. Even this can be risky, they may direct you to an unsafe situation, if at all possible get your directions from the hotel you are staying at.