Tuesday, December 08, 2009
We've been in the Dominican Republic now for almost 10 days. Tomorrow we leave to return to Miami, pick up Big Blue and race home (with some sightseeing along the way) to make it back for Christmas. It's starting to sink in that the adventure is almost over. Soon I will be back to life in Seattle...not always on the move, unsure who I will meet that day, where I will go, what I will do. Slowly, I'm getting myself ready for the transition back to reality.
A couple days ago Brian and I took a couple of our team members to the capital, Santo Domingo, to catch a flight back to Seattle. We drove in the night before, ate dinner at a cafeteria style restaurant, then I enjoyed some pistachio and coffee helado (ice cream). The next day we dropped them off at the airport around 7am and then decided instead of driving 3 1/2 hours back to Barahona right away we would go to the beach. So we traded in our Fiat for a Kia Picanto and went to Boca Chica, about 15 minutes East of Santo Domingo. We were the first tourists to the beach and were directed into a parking spot and then ushered over to buy a couple of chairs, offered drinks (at 8am??? no thanks) and then sat and looked out at the beautiful ocean view. We read about the history of the DR and swam, finding manta rays, sea cucumbers, fish and anenomes along the ocean floor. It was so peaceful and relaxing. $5 later, we ordered a virgin pina colada...by far the best I've ever had and then decided we should head back to Barahona. We loaded up the car, finagled our way out of paying too much for the morning, grabbed a couple pieces of bread and spent the next few hours in the car navigating through the crazy, lack of traffic law roads of the DR. A friend had mailed us a copy of Donald Miller's new book, a book about story, and so having already finished reading the book, I read to Brian as he safely delivered us home. We were reading about a man in the book, Bob Goff, who is an inspiration by the way he lives his life, taking risks, being hospitable, basically living a great story with his family. So as we were approaching Barahona Brian noticed another white guy walking down the side of the road. I hadn't seen him, but Brian was like, "Hey, another white guy, should we stop?" and I was like, "sure! why not?" So we turned around and pulled up in front of the guy who was walking on the side of the road with two other girls. He was about our age and was walking with a Dominican and Englishman. I think they were a bit weirded out at first that we had stopped, but after the introductions followed an invitation to go swimming down at a local river. Brian looked at me and I gave him the sounds good look and we all piled into the car. We drove to the closest village, parked the car and started walking toward the river. We also met up with a few other Dominicans on the way and a ton of mosquitoes...and mosquitoes really like me...so soon I was slapping at my arms and legs left and right trying to ward them off...my only hope was to get into the water as fast as possible. So we slid in down the muddy slopes and laid out in the knee-waist deep water flowing by us. It wasn't clear...and some slippery feeling things definitely brushed against me, but it was cool, refreshing, and fun to hang out with our new friends. A little bit later we walked through a plantain field and then to a sugar cane field where one of the Dominicans chopped down a bunch of cane for us to all enjoy. We brought them back to the river and he then cut up the cane so we could suck and gnaw on the declicious sugar. Soon after, we climbed back up the bank to head back to the car. I definitely went the wrong way and in my distress to avoid the mosquitoes found myself stepping in poop...human poop for that matter, ick. That really got me going and soon I was running ahead of the group trying to out manuever the mosquitoes and find water to wash my foot off with...what a day. We get back to the car, find it won't start, because the lights were left on and I was thinking...great we are never going to get it going again...we are in the DR! It is going to be so hard to find someone, a. with a car, b. with jumper cables, and c. that will be around to help. To my surprise we were back on the road within 10 minutes! crazy! we dropped our peace corp friend, Jonathan back off at his place after munching on some yummy coconut dessert and candy and then we took the girls back to their homes in a nearby village.
It was fun to see surrounding Barahona through the eyes of other travelers. To share in their experiences and hear about the work they are doing. Because we were with Dominicans and at their swimming spot I felt more like a local rather than a tourist. I felt like I was doing what young dominicans would do on a hot afternoon. The last two times I've been in the Dominican, I haven't had the same flexibility and freedom to explore, but have been protected within the confines of the organization and their workings.
All in all, it has been a great trip. We fly out tomorrow. I am excited to be home again, although I will miss the people here and the sun!