Community & Conchos


Hola a todos!

Today marks my two week point here in the Dominican Republic. The time has flown by incredibly fast this past week. I finally started my school routine with classes and clinical rotations. It as been a challenge adjusting to the curriculum of the program since it is solely taught in Spanish, but I feel like I am getting the hag of it.

As part of the program, we go to different communities to investigate a certain public health topic in order to formulate a final presentation where we determine if the Centro de Salud de Primer Nivel , Health Center of First Level, is meeting the needs of the community its treating.

Since the Health Center is part of the Public Sector in the Dominican Healthcare system, it is open to anyone and is free of charge. That is why it is important to make sure that the community is healthy and is informed about their healthcare rights. My research topic is Maternal Infancy where my main emphasis is on adolescent pregnancies and lactation since those of great concern in the Dominican Republic.

Every Tuesday and Thursday we go out into the community and ask the residents our questions of inquiry. So far, the residents have been very amicable and willing to answer all of our questions. Part of it has to do with the fact that they are intrigued that we are from the US, but the main reason of their willingness to participate and allow us into their homes is the strong sense of togetherness and community that they have. It has been a great experience thus far interacting with them.

The location of PUCMM and my host family’s house is classified as middle to upper class where as the community of Arroyo Hondo where I conduct my research is considered to be lower class. With that being said, the communities are very separated and not at a walking distance from each other.

That means that my classmates and I learned how to navigate through a form of public transportation which is unique to the city of Santiago called the conchos. The conchos are cars that have their specific routes which can be distinguished by the different letters on the cars them selves. The concho I take is the K route so I wait on the side of the street until I see a K concho and hail the concho driver.

They charge a flat rate per person of 25 Dominican pesos which is the equivalent to 50 cents and will pick you up and drop you off anywhere along their route. That is, when I need to get off I say to the driver, donde pueda porfavor, where ever you can please, which states to the driver that you need to get off so when he has a chance to pull over to do so. At first it was very hectic trying to maneuver my way through the city of Santiago with the conchos, but it’s getting a bit less hectic every time I ride one.

I can’t wait to see what else this beautiful country of the Dominican Republic has in store.

Until next time,

Crystal Alcala