The Biennial of Visual Art in Santo Domingo is a competition which is decided in August, but the exhibition stays open to the public for much longer, into November usually. The prizes are awarded by a panel of three; this year the panel were Chus Martinez, of the Museo del Barrio in New York City; Quisqueya Henríquez and Bingene Armenteros. All the artists in the competition must be natives of the Dominican Republic or must be resident there. Anyone who wants to see the cutting edge of Caribbean art should make sure they don’t miss this exhibition.
How to get there
Santo Domingo is served by two international airports, the main one being Aeropuerto Internacional de las Americas. Flights from the UK are long, but they are straight through although many people chose to break their flight in the USA. Santo Domingo is also a port and there are ferries and connections from there to other Caribbean destinations. The Dominican Republic is a very developed area in the Caribbean and Santo Domingo is its administrative capital. The colonial centre of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has some amazing buildings including the cathedral, which is the oldest in the Americas.
What to do
Walking around Santo Domingo can be a little challenging as the drivers have a very casual attitude to road safety and the pedestrian is way down their list of important things not to hit! However, there are some shopping malls which are traffic free as are sections of the Colonial Area. Eating is a very varied opportunity, as there is practically every cuisine on the streets of Santo Domingo, from MacDonald’s right up to gourmet restaurants. If there could be said to be a local dish it is ‘pica pollo’ which is a fusion of Caribbean, Chinese and KFC, being a pile of fried rice, fried plantain and fried chicken. It is not very elegant to eat but it is tasty and keeps you full for ages. The Caribbean is normally quite cheap when it comes to eating out but Santo Domingo comes in on the slightly more expensive side but if you stick to the comedors (cafes), pica pollo shops and fast food, it is not so pricey.
Night life is great although most places close at midnight so don’t expect to dance all night. Sadly, this early closing is an attempt to try and cut the crime rate, which is high so it is important to take some precautions when out late or even in the daytime – not carrying too much money is an obvious thing to do and also to keep jewellery to a minimum. Hotels can give help about how to behave on the street to avoid attracting notice – which is not to say that Santo Domingo is a scary place, not at all, but it is better to be safe than sorry.