Portraits of Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone, home to the oldest European settlement in the Americas, reminded me a lot of my native country of Spain. First you have the churches from the 1500s and whitewashed facades. It’s as if you were strolling a village in Andalucía or Extremadura. Then you have the friendly character of Spanish-speaking Dominicans. I felt right at home during the Symposium in this beautiful city of the Caribbean.

Here are some of the people I sketched:

Tomás Reyes (lead sketch), 63, sells mangoes at Calle Colón, a colorful pedestrian boulevard in the heart of the Colonial Zone. He said he can earn up to 600 pesos (about $15) daily if he manages to sell 100 mangoes.


Dicanes Monestime, 28, said he’s been selling avocadoes for 10 years. He transports the produce using a three-wheeled bicycle that doubles as a fruit stand. Each avocado sells for 25 pesos (about 65 cents.)


Taxi driver Máximo Cabrera, 43, said he spent a couple of years living in Madrid, but Spain’s soaring unemployment rate made him come back to the Dominican Republic last February.



Jacqueline Perrero, 44, runs “El Palacio” gift shop inside Mercado Modelo, a lively arts and crafts market where I attended one of the Symposium sketching workshops. She had noticed the group of sketchers roaming the market and when I approached her shop she insisted that I do a sketch of her. I couldn’t say no. She quickly sat down and struck a pose, undoing her pony tail to let her hair flow over her shoulders. Talk about pressure! She liked the sketch and showed it to other vendors. I ended up buying two t-shirts for my kids here and we exchanged business cards. Perhaps she’ll read this post!


Carslos Manuel, 17, said he has worked as a shoeshine boy since he was 7. He also attends high school and likes architecture, and when he saw a group of us sketching he wanted to know what we were doing. He seemed surprised when we told him we like to sketch for fun. “You could be a millionaire selling your drawings,” he said.

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