15 The Transnational Villagers

Peggy Levitt

The top part of the avenue leading from the Dominican city of Baní to the village of Miraflores is bordered by thick, leafy mimosa trees. Throughout the year, they are covered by orange blossoms and blanket the street with a delicious shade. On the way out of town, the sidewalks are busy with women shopping and children returning home from school. The streets grow quiet as the beauty parlors, small grocery stores (colmados), and lawyers' offices closest to the town square gradually give way to residential neighborhoods. On one corner is Mayor Carlos Peña's feed store, where he and his coworkers from the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD) meet to talk about politics every late afternoon. Farther down the street, members of the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC) also sit in front of their party's headquarters, drinking sweet cups of coffee and discussing the current election campaign. At the edge of town, the buildings end abruptly in overgrown fields. The avenue goes silent except for a lone motorcycle driver. The countryside is overwhelmingly beautiful.

A few hundred yards ahead, two sights unexpectedly interrupt this peaceful landscape. On the right side of the road, four partially complete mansions stand behind large iron gates. Their crumbling marble pillars and large cracked windows, so out of character with the rest of the scene, mock onlookers from the street. A little farther down the avenue, at the edge of ...

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