Sunday, March 06, 2011

Home from the Dominican Republic

A week ago, I was here on Playita, a small gem of a beach in the town of Las Galeras, in the northeast of the Dominican Republic.  The water was that warm, turquoise-blue of the Caribbean Ocean.  At one end of the beach, there were the European tourists, French and German. At the other end, a Dominican family celebrated 27 February, Independence Day.  And in the middle, under an almond tree, four American teachers marveled at their good fortune.  

We had walked a country road from the main street in Las Galeras.  We passed small farms and cows in the fields.  One family sold pan de coco and pina in a roadside stand.  We bought the warm bread and a pineapple, and the man gave us a tour of his farm.  We had admired his enormous pig the day before, and now we met the pig, the dog, the chickens.  He had a plot of land with bananas, pigeon peas, papaya, mango trees, and yucca.  Everywhere we looked, we saw small crops of fruits and vegetables for the family.  His daughter was doing homework on a table outside, and his wife cooked on an open air stove made of metal.  It was, after all, a Sunday afternoon.

We saw no Americans for the five days we stayed in Las Galeras.  We enjoyed the company of a Canadian family at the bed and breakfast, along with the Swiss proprietors and a French man and his wife.  We ate fried fish at the shack on the end of the beach and drank superbly cold Presidente beer with the local fisherman and taxi drivers.  Our traveling companion Jen speaks fluent Spanish and some Creole, so the language barrier was open for a rich and different kind of experience.

Las Galeras was pure vacation -- sunning, swimming, eating local foods, walking back roads, and generally enjoying the company of friends, old and new.  Karen and Jen found a frog in the shower and a big spider on the wall.  We were there long enough to recognize people as time passed.  We also saw the invisible division -- Dominicans on one end of the single main road, Europeans on the other.  The Dominicans always had more fun, and the music was distinctly better...

Now we are home and it's March in New Hampshire.  The skies have been gray for three days. Today, a Sunday, it's raining.  The snow is still several feet deep, but it rains and in the rain is the slight promise of Spring.  

On days such as these, I marvel at life.