When I left Toronto I lived in a poorer area of the city, albeit extremely colourful. It’s called Parkdale, for those of you who know, one of the older sections of the city, it boasts big old mansions, some of them converted in to halfway houses and old funky building, but a lot of poverty, drugs, crime. My last year or more there it saw the influx of the dreaded hipsters. Guys with one sleeve tattoos and fedora hats while the women went everywhere with a yoga mat and matching pants. Twats.
It’s interesting to see poverty butted right up against opulence, a man begging on the street right beside an obscenely expensive car. That car parked in front of some pretentious little shit hole of a restaurant that served only five different things, charged an obscene amount of money for it and all of the aforementioned hipsters lined up to get in. Ridiculous.
Here, in the Dominican Republic it has the same elements. Where I first lived in Sosua, you see most Dominicans and Haitians in poverty and the ‘gringos’ living in wealth. The reason I moved here was due to me being past the ideal hiring age, despite years of experience and thousands thrown into higher education. My family inheritance wouldn’t have lasted anywhere near this long in Parkdale.
My first taste of money vs not was when I was going to Spanish class in Sosua. Non Dominican people hired Dominicans or Haitians to clean, garden. At least the large number of expats there from Quebec hired Haitians, due to them speaking French, which was a small consolation for them. The Haitians I mean. Not the French Canadians.
The family who ran the school were nice enough but they were considered well-off. The school was in their home and I’m guessing they did alright. They taught Spanish, English, Russian and maybe more. They had this lovely Dominican woman who worked there, cleaning, cooking, laundry. I remember going up one morning to use the washroom and the door to my instructors bedroom was open. He had crawled out of his bed and just left it a mess, as if to say he was above making it. He was a lovely young lad, about twenty or so, studying to be a lawyer, but come on!
The woman asked me every morning if I wanted something but I always refused. I brought my own water with me and she was so lovely, she would burn a piece of egg carton underneath the picnic table where we sat to repel the mosquitoes.
This building I live in, the area here in Santo Domingo is kind of like that. My building is very nice, next door is a mansion where often times when someone is there there is an armed guard standing at the gate in army fatigues. Around the corner is a calmato, or corner store where people can buy things, grab a cold beer and drink on the way home, maybe a hairdresser or plumber shop but the people there live there, upstairs or behind within.
My apartment has a ‘room service’, so advertised in the ads but translated really means service room, or servant’s room. I use mine as a ‘cat box’ room, but I can see young women in other apartments wearing uniforms, up early in the morning, starting breakfast, who live in the cat box room. Perhaps a better life but, still.
The people next door to me, to my left (because that clears it up), the women likes to sit on the balcony at night and scream down her cellphone. Sometimes her and her husband like to sit outside and chat. She also likes to call to the security/cleaner man who works here, almost lives in our parking lot all day. She and others call him to get their garbage, which they simply toss down to him off their balcony, which just shocks me to the core, maybe they ask him to stop the fruit truck and get them something, or just go run errands. I hate the sound of them screaming his name all day, but I’m guessing no where near as much as he hates it.
He often hides on the rooftop, likely just napping or playing on his phone or chatting to family and friends. Who can blame him. The class difference is shocking to me, I really don’t like it. I love the apartment I have but people assume I’m stupid rich because it’s a big place, I’m here alone and that I’m overweight with tattoos. That bothers me. I am moving to a different area in the new year. My rent is cheap compared to Toronto prices (I still pay less than my last place in Crackville) but it’s very expensive in terms of what I can do here.
Lately one of the real pleasures I get is when I see the cleaning lady early in the morning for Shouty-Cell Phone Lady sitting peacefully on their balcony while they are away. I hope she has a cup of tea, lunch and drops a massive deuce, as well.
Yeah, I got your class distinction right here.