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Island of the Apes: On Being Dominican

Like many first-generation Americans, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the Dominican Republic since I could remember, or rather, with many of our Dominican elders. On one hand, I love my motherland—our capital, Santo Domingo, is the first city in the New World. Last November, I found myself sitting with my significant other—who is half Haitian—on a bench in the nation’s”first” park, soaking in the sun, and the sensual, sometimes chaotic vibe that is emblematic of this gorgeous city. It felt great to be back in la capital where I lived with my maternal grandparents for several formative years of my life.  Dominicans are generally hard-working, tenacious in their ability to survive on almost nada, and kind (unless you’re Haitian, that is). This is the country where the Mirabal sisters were born and, prematurely, died on their feet (as opposed to living on their knees) fighting against our very own Hitler, the dictator Rafael Trujillo. We are also the land who gave birth to the living legend, flautist and Fania records co-founder Johnny Pacheco: the man is a national treasure, he laid down the foundation for salsa music. We have flavor oozing out of our pores.

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