I stole a line from a favorite Decembrists tune. Rio San Juan is a pretty patter of a north coast Dominican Republic town. My favorite. It’s a sleepy little sister to more touristy towns and their breezy beaches.

A morning walk along the seafront takes you through neighborhoods of colorful little cabanas, grandparents putting out their folding chairs and domino boards,  dogs and cats claiming their territory,dr 069

dr 079housewives commiseratingdr 082

corner shops and eateries opening for business, dr 071

Erica and fishermen downing a breakfast of rice and beans

Erica and fishermen downing a breakfast of rice and beans

the smell of breakfast beans and rice coming from smokey kitchensdr 073

To add to the charm Rio San Juan’s Lions Club got a grant to invite some lovely mural artists, from Chile of all places, to do their magic in those same neighborhoods. Some examples:dr 075dr 080dr 077Check out the hat on this one…

Go Home!

Go Home!

Probably “Go Home” refers to the CIA in the Chilean artist’s country, or maybe the US Marines who were sent into the DR multiple times and stayed 15 years at one stretch.  Or maybe it was directed toward the Dominican diaspora. In the 1970s 12% of Dominicans worked in New York City.  Rafael was one of them. We shared a beer with him in front of his bar in the neighborhood. He went to New York as a young man, worked for more than a decade in Brooklyn in the garment and construction industry, then another decade in Patterson, NJ in the kitchen of numerous restaurants. By the time he came home to Rio San Juan he had enough saved to buy a little cattle ranch and the corner bar. He’s taken a new wife, built an apartment for her above the back of the bar and is adding a second, block by block, above the front as the money comes in. Power lines cut through the middle of the new construction, but he’ll deal with that later. For now life is good for the one that went home.

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