Culture Shock and Spanish Conquerors
To say the least, the change between Haiti and the Dominican Republic was a bit of a shock. After the second 10 hour bus ride of the trip, we arrived in Santo Domingo, tired and ready to do nothing but sleep and hope we recovered from varying levels of stomach ailments. However, when we left the bus, we wondered for a second if we had gotten lost and ended up in San Diego or Miami. Contrary to the capital city left in disrepair by national disasters and subsequent mismanagement, Santo Domingo, DR was a location comparable to any upper class city center in America. Being from Phoenix, AZ, I was immediately reminded of the wealthy suburb of Scottsdale, with the luxury malls, fancy high rise apartments (in which many of us spent the night with our host families), and the well-equipped and private Carol Morgan School where we have been playing for the last couple days. It is a city full of diplomats, government workers, and otherwise elite of Dominican society, and it can be seen everywhere.
However, much more than the new, wealthy buildings that seem to have appeared overnight, there is an outpouring of history that comes from Santo Domingo being the first area settled by a certain European that opened up the New World to trade of both goods and people, namely the infamous Christopher Columbus. As such, along the coast there is an array of centuries-old residences, churches, and government buildings from the 1500s and earlier, some of the first examples of European influence on the New World. Some pictures will be included below, but suffice to say the architecture is incredible, especially coming from a nation with a relatively short architectural tradition compared to Europe. I wish I could spend more than a couple hours exploring it, but that may be a plan for the next trip!
–Chris Westersund, trombone