Monday, November 28, 2011

Dominican Republic Thanksgiving.

 I’d heard about the iguanas and I so wanted to see the purported island full of them, but that never got round to happening. The pamphlet even touted a-thousand flamingoes and caves for the exploring and such and those, too, sounded like they’d be easy to add to that short list of things that had to happen.

Instead, though, instead the Dominican Republic was filled with the chewing of broken Spanish words and accidentally crunchy, half-filled roadside chicken empanadas. It was having misguided faith in an ancient GPS unit, right up until the eager-to-please rental would no longer scale an unpaved road leading up a mountain, the one dotted with burros and confused locals. It was big slabs of pork shoulder hanging from hooks on the side of the road and strings of pink snapper sold to those driving by that were not either one of us. It was admiring the children and their braids and moms for being able to balance big bowls on their heads without bothering to use hands. Huge rollers in her hair. Roosters singing along with the sunrise. Not using blinkers while on the road and fading in with the locals. Spanish music, with a side of reggaeton on the dial, por favor. Sailing on an ancient sailboat and peering at egrets with binoculars for the low price of a-thousand pesos. It was witnessing oblivious singers and in-the-street dancers. It was sharing a wave with a whole lot of children. Honking, so much honking. Travel advice from gas jockeys not bothering to lean on English. Girl working at customs who sees my passport, instantly smirks and says “Looking good.” Oh, plantains. Small trucks so weighed down by pounds and pounds of green bananas. El Presidente. Stars pinned up in the sky while on a quiet balcony at 4am, save for the occasional goat baaaaing down below. New levels of honesty in a friendship, a hole broken clean through a once well-constructed wall. Swimming without sunscreen. Never, ever eating indoors, opting for candles and such. It was saying and repeating (interchangeably) “I can’t believe how beautiful all of this is” and “I just love vacation.” It was a longish sigh of a paid few days off without so much of a mention of turkey. 

Oh, it was steamed pink snapper and black frijoles and a woman who owned a restaurant without a menu, yet still managed to scare up the best chicken and hot sauce we’d ever had for all of five dollars each. Cream of pumpkin soup, are you serious? Free breakfast every morning, are you serious? Pieces of papaya cut in the shape of the island. It was ocean water bleached clear over smooth skipping rocks painted white. It was too short, but it was right. No working cell phone and brief hiccups of wifi, if the wind blew right. It was warm when it should have been and cool when it needed to be. Windshield washed for 20 pesos, okay, all right, I’ll be your sucker for a second. So, so many mopeds. Driving on the wrong side of the street and not feeling at all nervous for doing so.

It was magnificent.   

No iguanas. Not a one. I think I ended up with the better part(s) of the deal. Travel, like life, appears best left to the possibilities, the eventual surprise destinations, the varied parts making up the curiosities of the journey all along the long, wide-eyed fascinating way.


Miranda said...

I always say, if you can survive driving in the Dominican Republic, well, you can survive just about anything.

Here's hoping you sampled vast quantities of fried yucca.

Dainon. said...

So, so much yucca. It ought to replace a food group somewhere, you know?