Living the life. One of the things I love most about being here is the chance to explore new horizons. Experiencing the culture of one of the friendliest peoples on earth through interaction.
In a previous article, “They Call Me Mr. Pig”, I wrote about stopping roadside at a roast pig eatery. That was on the way to Jarabacoa. Jarabacoa lies central in the country in the central cordillera mountains. There are 3 rivers in the area and several other attractions.
How do locals enjoy their country? Well other than taking a booze cruise to Saona, or a weekend at a resort when they can afford it, locals like to hang out at the river. Not just ANY river, but their river. Every local that is not a city kid, has “the river” that they long to go to. Interestingly, the river didn’t impress me enough to take pictures. But the rest of the trip did.
On the way there you drive through what is reminiscent of the Alberta foothills, albeit with palm trees. And the call THESE mountains. I want to take every Dominican to the Rockies, purely to record their facial expressions. The rural landscape tugs at my heartstrings. God how I love the countryside. Just find me a horse and I’ll be a happy girl. It’s a long drive on good highway, only a couple hours out of Santo Domingo. Typical of the rest of the country, the drive is at break-neck speeds. Weaving in and out of traffic. Not me driving this time but a distant cousin. I much prefer being in control. It’s always so much better when you are in the driver’s seat. Arriving safely at the destination the fun begins.
We headed for the river first. It was deserted except for the few rocks and 3 or 4 other people. So we opted for the “Spa”. It’s a tiny little pool that is spring fed. The water is almost as cold as our deep Canadian lakes … almost. “C’mon Gringa,” they called. “Come see how cold it is.” Well, I did, and frankly it’s cold but not the coldest I’ve ever experienced. I sort of wanted to take them for a Polar Bear Swim.
There were quite a few people there for the waters. One military man that had just returned from a training exchange with the Canadian Military proudly showed me his hat! There it was, the connection! Instantly a bond. The hat … said CANADA! Is that a travel thing or a Dominican thing? Maybe a little bit of both.
Another gentleman was a dentist. He was taking a bath in the waterfall. He was wearing his clothes and suds-ing under his garments. And what was next to him? Lo and behold a sign. Not a sign from God, but a real sign. “Please, No Soap & No Street Clothes,” and of course what do you see, a bar of soap under the sign. The dentist was making himself sanitary. However, the water feeds into the pool on the other side of the road. I’m pretty sure I know how I feel about that. He was a very happy dentist. No-one else seemed to mind. A very lackadaisical happy-go-lucky people.
The military man and the dentist hung around for a while. We all had a few drinks. Some of us more than others. One of the other “guests” stuck a bottle cap to the middle of his forehead. Comic activity is never in short supply. Dominican humour. Listening to the typical music of the Dominican Republic, Bachata and Merengue brought out the entertainer in all, and in typical style all the Dominicanos took their turn at singing. Some of them were not so good. Military man started pounding out a tune with a bell. Where do they get that rhythm?
The day over, it was time to head back to the city. Tired and spent, it was a quiet ride back. And two days later it was off to Canada.
Listen to the palms…
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