Greetings from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. I arrived here three days ago and I must say that the Dominicans have been friendly and helpful. My Spanish is close to nil, but I get by quite well. I visited Zona Colonial, a small district in the city, where visitors can see the earliest structures built by the Europeans in the New World ( early 1500s). The other part the zona reminded me of the French Quarter of New Orleans. There were some pesky street vendors, but no one that I would categorize as a problem.
The other day, I did something I haven't done in decades--I bought a whole coconut from the pushcart man who expertly chopped it up with his long and exceedingly sharp machete so I could drink the juice and eat the meat. This is a throwback to my younger years in the Phiippines. How simple, innocent, and inexpensive! Yet, you get to consume a fresh fruit untouched by human hands; the juice and meat are inside the husk. I don't think I will ever see a coconut pushcart vendor in New York. The image will offend our sensibilities which tend to put a high value on attractive and clean packaging. Maybe, it would only be a matter of an attractive-looking truck with a uniformed vendor. My vendor wore rags and had a haggard look to him. Well, he's hard up. I gave him a huge tip.
Fresh coconuts on a pushcart would be too tacky, some might say, although we have those smoky meat vendors at some corners of the city. I find them repulsive, and I try my best not to walk by them. The smell and sounds of sizzling dead flesh offends me. Meateaters do not investigate how their meat got to their plate at home or at a restaurant. Don't you think that they are running a higher risk of contamination when the meat ends up at a street corner in New York? Holy Mother of God! I'd rather have fruit that I can wash myself, or one that nature herself sealed off from human contamination.