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Dominica weekly is a personal weblog about the nature island of Dominica.


family in the park

I’m not a complainer. Really, I’m not. But having lived my first 68 years in the USA, I find that things being different take me some getting used to. Understand, please, I’m not asserting that “different” is wrong. It’s probably right for here; only I’m unused to it.

So, I’m sucking it up and learning to accept those different things. Still, I think it may amuse Dominicans reading this and help inform and prepare Americans, and Europeans and other “1st-worlders” wishing to settle here as well.

I’ll write about those differences – big and small – from time to time, and will preface it with this paragraph so that you know I’m not complaining.

Dominican Difference #7. The feeling of community. This is a difference that we like. In the US, we lived in a small New England town for the last 31 years. We knew most, but not all, of our near neighbors and quite a few people in the town. But we had some near neighbors whose names we didn’t know and a few who we would not even recognize. And perhaps we knew 10% of the people in the town. Most of them would come and go and pass without even a greeting. And small New England towns are renowned in the US for being friendly, close communities. In the big cities, it is not unusual for one never to know even their next-door neighbors.

The difference in Dominica, and we have found especially in our village of Calibishie (but it’s pretty much the same in every village, and probably even in Roseau) that villagers know one other and always have a friendly greeting. We’re trying to learn everyone’s name and face; not an easy task for a newcomer – the villagers were born and raised here and learned while growing up.

In the US, “How are you?” is a “throwaway phrase”. You may say that to someone in greeting, or have it said to you, but it’s not meant as a genuine inquiry. In the US, you’d become very unpopular very quickly is you answered by saying anything other than “I’m fine. How are you?” Here in Dominica, people really mean it when they ask. They actually care.

This is a Dominican difference that makes it a joy to live here.

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