Nat and the Jilguero – by Ted Eubanks (on the recent work trip to the Dominican Republic for the Caribbean Birding Trail project). July 10, 2012.
Santo Domingo is pandamoniacal. Order is abandoned. Cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, and pedestrians vie for their piece of the roadway without recognition that the white lines in the street actually delineate something. The city is more stampede than herd.
Dominican chaos doesn’t diminish outside of the capital; only the number of people spinning through life lessens the madness. Dominicans take pride in their passionate disregard for conventions such as stoplights and traffic lanes no matter how few may actually compete for a space. Two Dominicans on a highway is a traffic jam.
The Dominican Republic is 10 million people agitated by a Caribbean sun and the Columbian calamity. The aftershocks of Colon’s arrival still reverberate through the Caribbean, rippling through a world he both destroyed and created. Love him or hate him, give Columbus his due. No person changed the world more.
I am not a Columbus basher. I prefer to criticize the living, not the long dead. Columbus shoved two worlds together, and left us to pick through the pieces. He didn’t plan to be a world changer (the poor guy just wanted to be rich), but nevertheless he introduced the European model to a world ripe for the picking. Europe picked the Caribbean bones clean, which is the only bone I have to pick with the man.
In Parque Colin there is a bronze statue of Columbus, pointing northward, and a native Taina climbing up to reach him. From what I have read,
The native Taina is the Cacica, Anacaona, the first Indian to learn to read and write. Anacaona was captured whereby her village was burned and the inhabitants slaughtered by troops. Columbus ordered the troops to wipe out the remaining unsubjugated Tainos who were beginning to rebel against the Spanish. Anacaona was subsequently hung in a public square in Santo Domingo.
The colonial center of town is the epicenter of Columbus worship. Ancient walls isolate this colonial heart from the urbanity swallowing the outskirts. All Dominicans are colonists, even those with a few Taino genes still swimming through their veins. Dominicans are Spanish, African, or some combination of the two. Their Taino blood is seasoning.
To continue reading, click here to go to the blog post on the American Birding Association Blog.