Sunday, April 14, 2013

Part One: The Beach

Playita Beach in Las Galeras,
Dominican Republic
It's been a dismal few months here in New Hampshire weather-wise.  Even today is cold, grey and windy.  But, as my friends are quick to remind me whenever I start to complain, I have just returned from two and a half weeks in the Dominican Republic.   Sunshine.  Heat.  Beaches.  A small fishing village.  French cuisine and Dominican spices.  Cold Presidente beer and coconut ice cream -- just not consumed at the same time.

Simple Elegance in our room at Sol Azul
The first part of the trip was the beach, a bit of heaven in March for two New Englanders.  We stayed once again in the small village of Las Galeras, at the very tip of the Samana Peninsula.  

We met friendly, interesting people from all over Europe--Germany, Finland, France, Italy -- and we talked about the things we all care about deeply.  Education.  The environment. Traveling.  How to balance jobs and what we really love to do.  And, I always marvel at how much we humans share in common... once we stop and listen.

In town and on the beach, we spoke our "Tarzan" Spanish with lots of gestures and laughs.  The local folks, mostly Dominicans and Haitians, work in the restaurants and drive the motobike taxis.  They navigate the boats on every beach.  They cook wonderful wood-fired pizza and grill fish wrapped in banana leaves.

Barry's love of the birds and plants created connections on every corner.  He asked the names of fruits and critters from the people who lived and farmed beyond the main street.  He shared his bird photos and learned even more.  He was interested in the crops and wondered why no one composts (spiders, snakes and millipedes, so he was told).

So we read and went swimming.  We snorkeled with a Japanese man who has spent years preserving local coral reefs and the fish species within the reef.  We watched small silvery schools of minnows and trumpet fish slide in and out of the seagrass.  

He showed us puffer fish, jacks, a host of surgeon majors, and one deadly lion fish.  We saw different kinds of coral in his protected place -- more than anywhere else on the peninsula.  It's clearly his love, his passion, his livelihood.

Mother Teresa said, "Peace begins with a smile."  
I think communication and connection starts the same way.
That's how it was for us these past few weeks.