Monday, November 27, 2006

Making Memories

This was a busy weekend. I went to a museum in Santiago. I walked across a series of rickety wooden bridges to get to a waterfall. I was one of 8 people stuffed into a 4 seat car. I saw a Dominican cowboy. I saw the aftermath of a shooting in Sosua. I drank rum in a cave. I stood in the Atlantic Ocean. I paid three dollars to ride a bus from the North Coast of the island to the South Coast. I ate tofu for the first time in two months. I stood outside of the oldest church in "The New World." All this, and more. Yes, it was definately a busy weekend.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Time After Time

I feel like time is running out. There is not enough time. How can that be? Isn't time infinite? I think it is, but we are not. That is why we try to hold on to time. We try to make time. But time cannot be bought, or sold, or manufactured. Time is free, but free time is priceless. Time can be spent, and wasted. But there will always be more time.


But not today. Today there is never enough time.

Often we say we would do this or that if we had more time. But if time is constant and infinite, how can there not be enough? How can we need more of something that will never run out? And if we truly believe that we would rather spend our time doing something else, then why do we keep doing things we don't want to, day after day? My friend Meghan says the definition of insanity is repeating the same act over and over again expecting different results. Isn't that what most of us are doing? The same routine, Monday to Friday, with the hopes that one day it will be better? Maybe it will be better on the day when we turn 65. We can retire...then will we have more time? What will we have more time to do? Live?

What will we be able to say we did for all of those 65 years? We let life pass us by because we were busy trying to save a little bit of time...
My days here in the Caribbean are coming to an end. I have not wasted any time here, I have not tried to save any time, or make any time. I just lived every moment here full of life, and time went by at its own pace. In many instances I didn't know what day it was, or what the clock said. I didn't think about time at all, and somehow that gave me all the time in the world.
I suppose there are people who have figured this out where they live. They didn't have to come to the Caribbean, or some other place to find out. But to me, there is something here, on this island that speaks to me. Maybe it is simply my own inner voice, but I've never heard it before. I want to keep listening to it. If I can't hear it when I come back to Canada, then I will know that this place is truly my home.
Only time will tell.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Those Rainy Days

It seems as though it is raining everywhere in the world today. Here, in the Dominican Republic the thunder was so loud, it sounded like it was created right above my house. This is what it looked like in the afternoon here, as I sat with my friend Meghan, eating lunch on our front porch.
There is water dripping from the light fixture in the kitchen. I put a garbage can under it, which is now half full of rusty water. That leak has been present since I moved in here. It's like an old friend. I have reported it several times, and it was fixed for almost a week...but I think the reason it was fixed was due to the fact that it didn't rain for a week.
Now, we have a new leak that started today. In the bedroom. It is in the corner, coming out of the air conditioner. This leak is not an old friend. But it wants to be. I cannot report the problem to the office tomorrow because it is Domingo. Everything is closed on Domingo. And so, we will all live together for a few more days. I hope the leaks keep to themselves and do not invite any more friends over.

What language does your cat speak?

This is a photo of me with my favorite kitten here. We are at a restaurant on the beach having dinner. The cat doesn't speak english. It took me a while to figure that out. Not that she would really speak a language, but if you talk to her in Spanish, she seems to understand. One time, she climbed up onto our table, curled up, and went to sleep. I am looking forward to coming home to see my own cat. I hope she remembers me.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ignorance is bliss...or is it?

The sides of the roads here are littered with empty bottles of water, styrofoam lunch containers, broken glass, and in some places, bags of trash. The beaches are no better. Recycle? A foreign concept. Many people here don't see the point of using a garbage can, because it will not make a difference. How can one person make a difference, they ask.

They must not know who Rosa Parks is. Or Leonardo Da Vinci. Or the Wright Brothers. Or Alexander Graham Bell. Or Albert Einstein.

This garbage can has been full for some time. Instead of emptying it, they use the ground wherever they are standing. The earth is their neverending, infinite, wide open garbage can. Where I come from, it is a disgrace to litter. People do it, but we look down on them. I look down on them. Because they know better. I do not look down on my friends here, because I believe they do not know better.

There are no landfills here. Just fields of garbage. When there gets to be too much, they burn it. They burn everything. Plastic, metal, live animals who fall into holes and can't be rescued...they know nothing about the consequences toxic fumes they are sending to the ozone. You gag, and try to hold your breath when you drive past "the garbage road" where the resorts take thier garbage to be burned. The rich and powerful American and European owned resorts. Billion dollar enterprises. They know better. But they close thier eyes and pretend it isn't happening. The very people who can uncover this country's natural beauty, are ruining it.

When I took this photograph, my Dominican friends laughed at me. They thought I was taking a picture of the garbage. But I wasn't. I was taking a picture of the beautiful flowers. If only my friends could have seen the flowers too...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Time For a Life

What is time in the Caribbean? Minutes turn into hours. Hours become days. Where else would you celebrate the full moon several days after it has ended? That is what happened to the fiesta. It came late. But late doesn't matter here. Because there is no hurry. Time can go as slowly as this crab, who lost his way from the beach. I found him sitting on my front porch, letting the time go by. He was not in a hurry to return to his home. He didn't have any meetings scheduled, or appointments with important people. He didn't have to go shopping to buy gifts to give away for Christmas, which is 2 months from now. He didn't have to buy expensive clothes that someone in a magazine said were all the rage this season. He didn't have to do anything, but live in the moment. He wasn't angry that his precious, valuable time was wasted away, and he will never get it back. No. Not him. He was content to sit beside a shell all day, alone with his thoughts. Just letting the time go by. When the night arrived, he went home to the sea.
I want to be like him.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Platanos Fritos

Fried plantain bananas. I only tried to cook them once before, in Canada, and it was a pitiful attempt. But now that I have learned how to cook them properly, now that I know not to treat them like a regular banana, and not serve them with syrup and cinnamon and sugar, I will make them more often. When I cooked them today, my Dominican friends ate every last piece. That was the best compliment I could have asked for.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Luna Llena (Full Moon)

The full moon fiesta appears to be a thing of the past. Just a few months ago, it was celebrated. But now, the president has passed new laws prohibiting late night alcohol sales, and the police force is out at night shutting down the discos at midnight, or one o'clock. They say this was done in an attempt to lower crime, and make the streets safer at night. And so, the fiesta is no more...There may be other reasons, but this is what I think has happened.
But we didn't let that stop us on Sunday night. Meghan and I went to a place near our apartment where you can drink, and dance, and talk. The building had no walls, a thatched roof, and a cement slab for a floor, with young Dominican men dancing to Bachata and Merengue music. A few wicker chairs and wooden tables were the only furniture. The bar had a fridge full of cold beer. What else could it need? It was perfect.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Island Nights

The sun sets here around 6:00. If you blink, you might miss it. The location on the island where I live is not one where the sun sets over the sea, as I always imagined it would. Instead, it makes it's descent behind the palm trees and the hotels, and usually isn't anyting spectacular. Last night as I was sitting on the patio eating dinner with my friend Meghan, we looked up and saw beautiful pink clouds. We rushed over to the beach to take some photos, as this was such a rare moment to be able to capture here. If you look closely, you can even see the moon between the trees. It is almost full, almost time to have the fiesta on the beach. Mañana...

Friday, November 03, 2006

A Trip to the Market

Today Meghan and I walked to the supermarket early. It is better to go early because the sun isn't directly overhead, and there is a bit of shade on one side of the street. If you go around noon, the sun is directly overhead and the trees cannot offer any shade. Even though it was only 9am, it was already 30 degrees. We agreed to take a motoconch ride back to the villa once we had our groceries.
At the supermarket, we stocked up on some food - a can of beans, chips & salsa, matches to light the gas stove in the apartment, laundry soap, to wash our clothes in the sink, and a candle that smells like coconut, and is made in a half coconut shell. It smells delicious! We also bought a few vegetables. Check out the size of the carrots! Meghan and I stared laughing when we saw the carrots, they were all so fat and stubby, they reminded us of...something else. We couldn't stop laughing. The staff at the market must have thought we were loco.
And, as planned, we rode a motoconche home. It took 4 minutes, as opposed to a 20 minute walk. A motoconch is basically a taxi, but on a motorcycle. It is easy to catch a ride, the motoconches are everywhere, and they are cheap. Helmets are unheard of here. People ride on motos with infants, and think nothing of it. Sometimes there are four people on one motoconch! But we were only three, the driver, Meghan, and myself...holding our bags of groceries. I have been on motorcycles here, of friends, but this was my first motoconch ride. It was fun. We gave the driver a good tip.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I Love Dominicans!

Today I had to walk to town to buy water. It's not safe to drink the water here, you must use bottled water to do everything from brushing your teeth, to cooking. And so, you can imagine how much water is needed in one day, to drink, to cook rice, etc. As I was walking back to the villa from town, carrying a heavy jug of water, I came to a spot in the road where it had flooded from all the rain last night. I stopped to weigh my options. It was 32 degrees. I didn't really want to backtrack to go down the sidestreet to the beach, because it would add another 15 minutes to my walk home, and I was already hot and sweaty. I thought about wading through the flood, it looked like it might go up to somewhere between my ankes and my knees. There was no way around it, a cement wall was on one side, and some thorny bushes were on the other side.
The water was getting heavier.
There was no shade.
I was dripping with sweat.
I just stood there and watched the cars drive through the puddle, slowly, so not to splash the water up into their engines.
And then, a bus pulled up beside me, and the driver told me to come in. I gratefully stepped up inside, and stood in the doorway as he drove through the flood. He let me off on the other side. I tried to offer him a few pesos, to thank him for his generosity, but he refused.
That would never happen in Vancouver. The bus would just drive through the flood really fast and splash all the innocent pedestrians with the dirty water. I know this, because I have experienced it several times. There was a time I even boycotted public transit because of this.
But here, things are different, the people are friendlier, they are more aware of the people around them, and they will help you out if they can. They find it strange that I do not accept a ride, when I walk to town...the fact that I would rather walk in the heat seems foreign to them.
I guess I am not quite Dominican yet.