Higüerito de Moca
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Many of the country’s typical “faceless women” dolls, vases, and other forms of pottery sold to tourists in resorts and gift shops have been thrown and painted by hand in the backyard studios of artisans in the tiny village of Higüerito de Moca (commonly referred to as Higüerito). The village is eight kilometers south of Santiago just off the Autopista Duarte, or if you are approaching from La Vega, you will turn right off the highway at the 14.5 kilometer marker. At the fork in the road, turn left.
Look for (or ask the townspeople for directions to) the shack made of wooden slats, Artesania Mery (tel. 809/783-3259, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri.). Here you can watch the artists make the dolls that have come to represent the fusion of cultures and races that have made up the Dominican face. Where one person may imagine a mulatto face, another may see a European image or an African one.
Sadly, these artists, who sell their pieces to large corporate hotels or stores, rarely see profit returns, so it is customary that you purchase something if you visit the studios.
© Ana Chavier Caamaño from Moon Dominican Republic, 4th edition