The Unbearable Urban Lightness


A poetic nonetheless truthful account of the past and present of Santo Domingo written by Omar Rancier. 


Around 515 or 516 years ago (the exact date of which historians can still not agree on) the Spanish city of Santo Domingo was founded on the southern coast of the Island of Hispaniola. It seems ironic that its founding was, in the words of Reverend Rubio, an act of love; the product of which was not only the inception of the city but also the birth of the first mestizo of The Americas. The irony lies in the fact that this very act of love between Miguel and Catalina has in the ensuing five centuries transmuted itself into a space of intrinsic aggression; something which on a daily basis is more to be endured than savored by its amalgamated population.

If Milan Kundera, as a result of an existential search that resulted in a novel, came to conclude that the lightness of being is unbearable, it might also be said of Santo Domingo that, over time, it has developed an urban lightness which is unbearable, in its search for an increasingly vanishing sense of identity.

The city, swollen as it is with noxious tunnels, dripping over-passes, viaducts and useless pedestrian bridges, and smacking of mass more than levity, groans under the load of a lightness whose cost outweighs its functionality. (more…)