The trip to the DR-Haiti border

If you’ve never had the classic Latin bus experience, the guagua from Santo Domingo to Pedernales on the Hispanola border with Haiti fills the bill.

For 450 pesos, the bus, filled to the roof liner with passengers and blasting a reggaton beat, departed around 4pm so the driver could get as many fares as possible. Fortunately the woman squished into the seat with me, Victoria, a Seventh Day Adventist Haitian student, made the trip to the Haiti-DR border fun; a good thing, because the local bus to Pedernales stops every few miles. Once, it was so a military officer could check visas, for which the driver’s right-hand man collected several hundred pesos from the illegals aboard. Another stop was for gas, and dozens more were for vendors who hopped on and off the guagua to hawk their wares of Chiclets chewing gum, roasted corn, gigantic lollipops, baked goods, bottled water and health products.

Unlike Haiti where 75 percent of the market sellers are women, men do most of the selling in the DR. Large trucks hurtle along the well paved coastal road, and one of them collided with a car, smashing both vehicles and killing the driver who lay dead in the road. A long traffic jam ensued as police, ambulance and rubber neckers gathered at the scene, attended by vendors hoping to make a few pesos in the crowd.

We arrived in Pedernales at 11 p.m. Welcome to the border.

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