Monte Cristi is somewhat infamous for its peculiarly violent Carnival celebrations. Each Sunday in February, the locals split into two groups: the Toros, who dress in stylized Carnival bull masks and bright cloth outfits decorated with mirrors, whistles and other miscellaneous bangles, and the unadorned Civilis. Both parties protect themselves by putting on four or five layers of clothing, including winter coats, then proceed to attack each other in the streets with bullwhips. Police measure the whips beforehand to ensure that they do not exceed a certain length, and combatants are not supposed to hit anyone in the face, though these safety measures don’t eliminate the danger. Onlookers are supposed to be safe from the proceedings, but with hundreds of people whizzing deadly weapons through the air, you’re better off watching the “festivities” from the first-floor balcony of the Hotel Chic restaurant, conveniently located at the centre of the action.

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