Today I saw the fruit guy again, and I really can't believe I haven't blogged about him yet, but this blog is past due.
One of my favorite examples of Dominican culture is the fruit vendor right at the intersection of a very busy and crazy highway right near my house.
Actually, interesting side note, the Dominican Republic is ranked the second-most dangerous country in the world for driving, which means that red lights are considered suggestions and you can have people passing you on your left as you are signaling and turning left--and red lights go out with the frequent power outages, and then it's somewhat of a free-for-all.
Anyway, the fruit guy is right on the corner of this highway that we take to get everywhere. And for the last two years I have observed the same pattern repeated again and again.
He sets up a card table on a tiny "island" between where different lanes are turning onto and off of the highway and puts out his bananas, papayas, mangoes, and pineapples. He keeps this same system going for a few weeks. Then one day, he hangs up a tarp from the tree branches above to block the sun and rain from his stand. A few weeks or months after that, he brings in a little wooden stand and sets it up next to the card table. His display expands and grows until it stretches beyond the island into the road feeding onto the highway.
Then one day, AMET, the local traffic police, comes by and tells him to take down his stand. (This is conjecture, but I'm pretty sure about this. I've watched the pattern many times.) It won't be the first time that AMET has seen him, but I'm thinking that either he's gone too far with his stand or that an important government official is going to drive by that day. Anyway, they decide that it's no longer OK for him to have his stand there. So he disappears for a few weeks, then starts back with the card table.
I've watched this again and again. But after the last time they closed him down he never came back. Month turned into month turned into month. And the fruit guy stayed away. I knew from the past pattern when to start looking for him, and was almost giving up on him. It would be so unexpected if he actually gave more than a respectful "break" in his business and took the police seriously enough to close down altogether.
But today he was back! And my understanding of Dominican culture is confirmed.