Monday, June 25, 2007

2 Things!

First, Byron just got out of the hospital after getting Dengue Fever. Well, it is a very serious disease (spread by mosquitoes) that affects tropical climates. The country is on a major TV and newspaper campaign to warn the populace about cleaning up any potential mosquito nests. There is also spraying going on to kill as many mosquitoes as possible. Just something to be on the lookout for when traveling to the DR, or any tropical climate. Mosquitoes are not only a nuisance, but a disease-carrying killer. Also, Byron wanted me to also let people know about the care he received from the hospital he was treated at, Clinica Abreu. He said the care was comparable to the States, and he was checked every 30 minutes while there. It is also the hospital recommended by the U. S. Embassy.

Yesterday, another friend of the blog stopped by to tell me of an incident with the police. He was driving back from one of the casinos on the Malecon, when he was pulled over on Avenida Independencia. There were 2 cops on a motorcycle. Told him to turn in on a side-street. Mistake number 1. They told him he had ran a red light. Of course he had not, but facts get blurred when you come in contact with some policemen here. Anyway, long story short, he gave them RD$3,000 pesos (about $93 U.S.), cops saw money and said no, RD$2,000 (about $62) more.

Now let's analyze this. First, if you are driving and get stopped by the police NEVER turn on to a side street. Handle everything right there. Second, keep a copy of your passport and driver's license with you. You can keep your original license with you, but only give the copies if pulled over by police. Third, if you have done nothing wrong, then don't pay anything. Don't raise your voice, don't talk with indignant "I'm American!" tones. Just stand your ground, calmly, don't be nervous, again, as long as you have done nothing wrong. But, if they say we have to take you to jail, tell them okay. When you get there ask them to call the U.S. Embassy (809.221.2171/24-hour help). Once they know you are not going to cave, and are not scared, they will wave you along.

Now, every situation is different. I'm not telling you to take a bullet if you feel threatened. Each situation has to be handled on a case-by-case basis. Just know that you don't have to take any bullshit.



Until soon,
The Monaga Blogger

(Here is a great story about starting a school in the Dominican Republic)


Anonymous said...

Three things before I head off to the office:
1.) Glad Byron is OK. My best to him.
2.) Clinica Abreu is excellent! Several years ago, I woke up with severe tachycardia (too many Cuba Libres the night before). I thought my heart was going to come out of my chest. Went to Clinica Abreu's emergency ward and in minutes they had me hooked up to machines and had given me medications. After an hour under observation, I was let go with a recommendation to take it easy for the rest of my trip. Also, the charges were dirt cheap, it all came out to under $40.00. In any hospital in the USA, I would have had to pay in the hundreds of dollars if not more!
3.) I've been pulled over several times by police and have had to pay my dues also. It comes with the territory, but now I am street smart. Only transit police (AMET)are authorized to pull you over, not regular police! However, if you are new to DR, follow Anthony's advice and play it on the safe side. Have a nice day!
From Puerto Rico,

Anonymous said...

Hi Anthony:

Thanks for once again dispensing some common sense advice. As you may recall, when I was in SD last January, I was stopped THREE times on the Saturday of a Dominican holiday weekend. Luckily, I had listened to your advice before.

The first stop was in the afternoon on the Malecon. I had just dropped my friend off at his place of work. The policeman spoke only one word in English - "Money".."para infracion." I told him in English to write me a ticket, then sat staring straight ahead with both hands up high on the steering wheel. Finally, I pulled out my cell phone and said I was calling the US Embassy. He gave up, returned my licence, and went back to his car.

The second time was just after I picked up my friend from work that same day, and I was pulled over after turning left onto Maximo Gomez (with the green light). My friend did all the talking, during which I picked up "sin dinero" several times. He then told the cop to take us to the polioce station if he wanted, whereup he gave up too.

We diverted around the subway construction and had just gotten back onto Maximo Gomez when we were stopped AGAIN - by a different cop. When my friend told him this was the second stop in less than five minutes, the cop apologized and said "buenas noches."

My friend explained that the cops love to try to shake down tourists when they want to spend money on their families on holiday weekends.

I would add only a couple of things to your excellent advice....

Never speak Spanish...this is a case where playing dumb is playing smart. (Of course, this may only work if your driver's licence has a foreign address.)

Second, write your embassy's 24 hour hotline number on the photocopy of your passport and driver's licence, so the cop will know you're prepared to follow through.

And you're right, Anthony, act respectful even though it may be difficult. Don't think I wasn't scared shitless that Saturday afternoon sitting all by myself in that small rental car!

Thanks for listening......See you in September, Anthony.

George in SF.

Anonymous said...

Both stories are very alarming. But i guess it won't scare me from coming for a vacation.

Great stories Anthony. Keep up the good blogging.