In the Dominican Republic, a lot of the population lives away from towns, in what is commonly referred to as “el campo” or the country. Here most people live in typical houses made mostly of palm wood, or more commonly now, half concrete half wood.
In these parts, traditionally, life has been off-grid, where people live mostly off the land.
Of course, that’s been changing. Electricity is reaching further and further, bringing with it the television. Still, depending on how far form a town center you travel, you’ll find differing levels of autonomy, from completely isolated to completely dependent.
Here people mostly grow “viveres” which refers to root vegetables such as yucca or ayutica, as well as other tropical vegetables and fruits, such as passion fruit, papaya, pineapple, squash, eggplants, zucchini, chayotte, etc…
Of course, meat also makes up a large portion of the nutrition, and so the care taking of farm animals takes up a large portion of the day.
Save for Chicharrónes, Pork is usually reserved for special occasions like Christmas, or weddings, where it is usually spit-roasted.
Of course, cows are also raised both for meat and for milk.
Chicken is a more common meal, as chickens grow to maturity faster.
The picture above is a rooster though. This guy probably won’t get eaten for a while, his job is to fertilize the eggs. He might, however, end up fighting another chicken in a ring on a lazy sunday though.
A more likely meal is a full-grown hen.
Chickens are, of course, also kept for their eggs, which, when free range and insect-fed, are delicious with an almost orange yolk.
Duck is also occasionally on the menu, as are guinea fowls, geese, and turkey. Here’s a fun and short video of our buddy Brandon having a conversation with a turkey.
Not all animals are raised for eating, but they all do serve their purpose. Dogs are mostly kept for security.
As a general rule, Dominicans are very scared of dogs, that is all dogs but their own.
Dogs are considered pets and companions, but not quite in the same way a North American would cherish theirs as a family member.
Cats are kept for rodent control.
Occasionally, bees are kept for honey.
Keeping bees however is more technical, so bees definitely won’t be found in every household.
And then there is transportation.
Horses are kept for transport, as well as for herding cows, except when the horse can’t be caught, at which point the reliable motorcycle is brought it.
Most commonly though, donkeys are used for getting from point A to point B, but also for transporting heavy stuff.
What’s great about donkeys is that it’s easy for children to ride them (not that they don’t ride motorcycles too but….) and they’re cheap on gas.
So it’s a good replacement for the school bus.
As a side note, donkeys might be the cutest baby animals alive.
The only animals that are really kept as pets are parrots.
Unfortunately for this gorgeous creatures, if someone decides they want a pet, they usually find a place parrots hang out during their migration through the DR and put a glue on the branches which keeps the birds from flying away.
They then snatch them and clip their wings.
They sure do have pretty feathers.
Then again, so do chickens.
Lucky for hummingbirds, they fly too fast and almost never land.
In the “Campo” life is pretty slow-paced. Yes, there’s a lot of work to be done everyday, but it’s all part of the cycle of life, generation to generation.