On July 31 at 11:16 PM while on the last flight home, I wrote a comparison between Dominica and America. All week I'd been keeping a list of categories with noticeable differences and paying close attention during my conversations with the Dominican campers. Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list. A person can't learn everything about a culture in only ten days, and I can't share every single detail I did learn - it's simply too much, and a lot has to be learned firsthand through experience. Below is what I did share in my final journal entry.
SPORTS: Dominica's focus is on cricket and soccer, which they call football.
SCHOOL: Up through sixth grade it seems to be the same. After that, though, Dominican grades are called forms and there's one less year of high school.
FOOD: Obviously pretty different, although a few things like mac-n-cheese are very similar.
FAMILY LIFE: Here most people live with each other and have several kids before marriage. Focus is mainly on women having enough sons to take care of them when they're older.
FAITH: Mostly Roman Catholic.
ENTERTAINMENT: There are no movie theaters, but television - especially Disney - is very popular.
CLIMATE: An obvious one. Dominica is pretty hot and very humid. Few places have air conditioning, although there's usually a nice ocean breeze and most vehicles get a good airflow by leaving all the windows open. It rains on and off a lot.
DATING: Pretty much like America, but it's still considered unheard of for girls to pursue guys.
DRIVING: You have to be eighteen to get a license. Outside Roseau [the capital city] roads are narrow, bumpy, and unmarked. Very few road signs or seatbelts. Lots of honking - generally friendly and expected - especially around the many corners. Tons of hitchhiking. Still, road accidents are actually very rare.
HOMES: Some are run-down and in terrible conditions. Others are nice concrete. Many are or were originally brightly painted. Pigs, goats, and chickens/roosters - oh, and cows - running around are perfectly normal, as are clotheslines and ads on the sides of homes.
LINGO: Flip-flops are called slippers. A van is a bus while a bus is a coaster. Many foods sound familiar but are not what an American would expect, like avocadoes which Dominicans call pears.
AIRPORTS: In Dominica the airport was smaller and the environment as well as the staff seemed much more open and friendlier.