How to Survive a Third World Riot

When my Father, Sister, and I were caught in a traffic jam in the Dominican Republic, the last thing I would have thought was starting this jam would be a riot. I was convinced that it was a farmer herding his cows until I heard an alarming series of gunshots. Then the police run to their cars, and began fleeing away from the massive crowd blocking the middle of the highway. Thats when I knew it was a riot. Having just landed without any sleep, I was under the dreamlike influence of insomnia, and we were about to drive through a riot.
Many medical websites say that a lack of sleep affects your mental state, particularly mental stamina, which essentially means that not sleeping makes you a little stupid. So I guess I was feeling a little stupid when we drove up to this riot, as most people would tell you that it would be better to stop the car and avoid driving through a riot. I had the dreamlike certainty that I was fascinated by it.
Nothing felt entirely real. When we were driving towards the scene of a riot it felt almost natural, even a bit exciting like, “Oh how wonderful! We get to drive through a riot and see what is happening.” Yes, we were being stupid. Yes, it was exciting as fuck.
So there we were, the tropical sun shining over our heads and outside of our window the muffled sounds of loud music, people laughing, destroying things, and drinking delicious rum.  My father was intently trying to navigate the confusing Dominican traffic, and my sister was somehow sleeping in the backseat in the in spite of all the noise. I was craning my head in shotgun, trying to see why traffic was stopping up ahead.
“There sure are a lot of people standing in the middle of the highway.” I said to my dad who was paying more attention to the hectic, weaving, honking traffic in our lane.
“Well hopefully they’ll move so this crazy traffic can clear up.” He said.
Then we heard the gunshots.
“My god!” said my dad, “Are those the police are running away?”
They were. Somehow, nothing else was said about the issue. We just watched the events happening through our windshield with a renewed sense of interest. It was almost cool.
Looking back on how everything seemed on little to no sleep, it felt more like we were watching everything happen on TV than in person. The cops literally fleeing the section of road we were about to drive through felt like a welcome plot twist to the story of our all inclusive resort vacation.
As the police drove away, the traffic began to move again. I guess the riot had gotten rid of the real traffic issue.
We inched forward into the crowd, our Fiat slowly becoming enveloped by the crowds and loud music of a party. People were moving between cars with bottles of rum in their hand. Most of them were smiling, as though the police being chased off was a big joke, and since I was under the stupid effects of insomnia, it kind of felt like a joke to me as well. Everything felt like a joke, even the concrete blocks being thrown over the highway.
In fact, I think one of the oddest sensations I have ever known is sitting in the front seat of that small Fiat with my father driving next to me, and my sister sleeping in the back, while thinking, “this is oddly beautiful, and fun.” as concrete blocks flew soundlessly over the car. At the time they reminded me of doves flying over our car, and smashing into the doors and windshields of the cars next to us, but somehow avoiding us the whole time.
Somehow, as though we drove through some sort of wormhole portal, we passed through the riot completely unscathed. None of the concrete blocks hit our car. We didn’t encounter any aggression. Not even an angry stare. Our journey simply took us from one end of blissful Dominican Paradise, through a riot, and back into the gorgeous palm tree dotted paradise that led us towards our 5 star resort. It was exactly like a dream.
The first morning of our trip took us from paradise, through a riot, and back to paradise in a matter of minutes. It was almost as though the rioting people didn’t exist, and everything was once again, just a tropical paradise.

6 thoughts on “How to Survive a Third World Riot

    1. Haha yeah, my dad described it as a “wild” experience. Hopefully it never happens again, but it is something I wont soon forget. Thanks for reading! Check out other stories every Wednesday and Sunday.

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