Many years ago, I visited the Dominican Republic with some friends. But, instead of the ‘regular’ tourist spots, we stayed with friends who actually lived there. It was a wonderful experience in so many ways!
When our stay ended, we needed to drive from the small town of San Pedro de Marcoris on the Southern coast to the Northern coast town of Puerto Plata, because that is where our flight was leaving from. So, we rented a vehicle and one of our Dominican friends came along to act as our navigator and interpreter.
That is how it happened that, late at night, I was driving along on a mostly empty road in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere. As in, little to no people to be seen around. Then, along the side of the road, was a police car with a uniformed police officer waving me over to stop. Being the law-abiding person that I am, I quite automatically began to slow down and pull over to the side of the road.
Orlando, my Dominican friend and guide, looked at me, shocked, and yelled: “What are you doing? Are you crazy?”
Confused by his demeanor, I explained that a cop was pulling us over, so I was stopping.
“No!!! He’s going to rob us!” Orlando replied. “Drive by, fast, fast, fast, so he cant’ catch us!”
His fear was genuine. So, I did what he said: this became nothing more for me than an amusing anecdote about the one and only time in my life I had evaded the police…but it was the right thing to do, and the only safe course of action to have taken on that dark, secluded stretch of road.
Apparently, it was not unusual for police officers in the 1980′ Dominican Republic to supplement their income by pulling over drivers and then robbing them. Of course, this could never happen in a Western country, right?
Well, think again: unless ‘Detroit’ no longer qualifies as part of the civilized ‘Western world’, of course!