We as Canadians have become used to a certain way of life. The way we shop, the way we work, how we move around and the amenities that are common in our country are something that we have become accustom to. So, when we travel, we are frequently taken aback by the lack of these amenities elsewhere.
The Dominican Republic is a nation that is one step behind. To be fair, considering that in the dozen or so years I have been coming here there have been many changes and upgrades, maybe they are only half a step behind. The fact is though, that it is not a wealthy country and therefore certain things that are very common for me as a foreigner are foreign to them as a local. Meaning they do not know what they do not have because they have never had it.
What they do have here, apart from tremendous weather, is the ability to make things work. If you can step past the idea that they do not have what you are used to back home, they do have a variation of it. I think that the internet has helped them close the gap and allowed many countries that were a step or two behind to catch up, mostly because they are able to investigate online what the foreigners are talking about. They are no longer dependant on bad verbal description and can ‘google’ just about anything to help them understand what we mean. They are then able to confidently look us in the eye and say, “No, we do not have that here.”
A prime example of this is home delivery. We have become so accustomed to being able to pick up a phone or go on the internet and purchase everything without ever having to visit a retail outlet. From food to furniture we are a click away from total satisfaction. The Dominican Republic is still away a way’s from having this happen. They have the internet but being on an island makes most things inaccessible and you most still go to a store to purchase just about anything.
When you run a small business like the Playa it can be difficult to have everything you need, when you need it. You can’t store vast quantities of goods based on the off chance some guest will want it. There is no way of knowing whether a guest will be drinking a certain brand of beer or decide that today they will be drinking margaritas by the pitcher full. Also being a small operation means you can’t just leave the restaurant and run up to the bodega to get flour or cream for sauces. Someone has to be here to pour the tequila!
The solution to this dilemma comes in the form of a man on a motorcycle, I affectionately refer to him as ‘Amazon Rueban’. If you need anything, cigarettes, ketchup, flour or a toothbrush, you just talk to Wendy and she calls ‘Amazon Rueban’. Fifteen minutes later there he is with what you need. Need tequila on a Sunday, call ‘Amazon Rueban’. Need some mix for coba libra’s, ‘Amazon Rueban’ is your guy. He even delivers the employees!! All the goods you could possibly want, Rueban delivers. UPS has nothing on this guy!!
‘Amazon Rueban’ delivers at all hours and in all weather conditions. He arrived the other day in the rain, his feet were wrapped in green garbage bags to protect his shoes from the puddles he was driving through. I have seen him wearing another garbage bag fashioned into a poncho to keep the pounding rain off his always too small polo shirt. Rueban is a big man, which makes the motorcycle he drives seem small. The packages he delivers are usually strapped to the back of his moto with bungee chords but occasionally smaller packages are stuffed under his shirt, like the carton of cigarettes I had him deliver the other day. It’s a good thing the packages come double wrapped because in this climate you can bet a man his size sweats… a lot!
‘Amazon Rueban’ shows up at the Playa three to four times a day. There is no minimum order requirement. He delivers what is needed. You will see cases of cervaza strapped to his moto or packages of toilet paper. Food supplies or bags of ice, he delivers it all 7 days a week. He arrives at 7 in the morning or 7 at night. ‘Amazon Rueban’ is the solution to the problem; how do I get what I want at a “secluded beach oasis”? As I said at the top, they may not have the same thing I have back home but they have a variation of it and things may work differently here… but they still work.