One of the things we enjoy most about our expat lifestyle here on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic is variety and exploration. You never know what to expect as you head down the road. Just the other day I happened by the rice fields a few miles down the road from Cabrera. I had to stop beside the road and share a little bit of it with you. As you will see in this little video, the farmers still use oxen for the most part to slog through the flooded rice paddy to plant the next seasons rice crop. This is probably exactly the same way their fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers and great-great-grandfathers did it. Very little has changed about the process, yet they still manage to produce enough rice to feed the entire population of the Dominican Republic. Which is saying a lot.
Rice is a critical food crop in the Dominican Republic with over 820,000 metric tonnes produced each year. In fact, the Dominican Republic is totally self sufficient in rice production with the average Dominican consuming about 120 pounds of rice per year.
But why is this important to us as expats living here? Consider this. If the entire electrical grid went down, if the gasoline and diesel fuel supply dried up, if all communication services stopped working…. we would still eat well….
When you combine the primitive rice production in the lowlands with the non-mechanized vegetable and fruit production in the hillside farms, the grass-fed beef production, the free range poultry and plentiful seafood you realize that you will not go hungry no matter the disaster. Of course, it is a nice bonus that most of these home-grown products also happen to be the least expensive food alternatives too.
In our high-tech world full of gadgets and planned obsolesce it is refreshing to see the success and sustainability of the “old way”. One of the reasons I like to call this place “Mayberry with internet”.
In this first video we stop by the roadside to watch the workers plant the next rice crop with their oxen and rather primitive tools. Just like they have for generations.
You might wonder if all this primitive rice planting can really be successful. Well, in this next little video we take a look at a past harvest from this same general area of rice paddys. The process for harvesting the rice is a little more mechanized, but still oxen and brute force play a very important part in making rice so successful here on the North Coast.
I can’t overemphasize how invigorating and enriching it is to wake up each morning in a new land, just knowing that it is highly probable that you will learn something new, discover something you have never noticed or meet a friendly stranger that will be just as curious about you as you are about them.