Farewell To Dominican Republic

My last days in Dominican Republic were wonderful.  I had a nice farewell breakfast with my new friend Judith, the sailing coach from Boston.  We spent many moments together on the beach and hope to sail with her in Boston this summer.  IMG_0312I spent the mornings with Spirit, as usual.  Ali helped me get Spirit used to someone sitting on him by putting pressure on his back and putting his leg across him from a mounting stool. I felt compelled to be the first one fully on his back. A first for me!  I got on the stool next to him while he ate grass and tested him with my leg on his back like Ali did, then eased myself on, laying flat for a moment and then I sat up!  No freakout, no movement from him at all!  Wow, so cool to see how well Natural Horsemanship works to gain trust from a prey animal.  He trusted me so much that he had no fear of me being on his back, a simply unnatural thing for a horse to allow, since their natural predators, mountain lions, attack in this way.  In a horse’s mind, humans fall into the predator category.  This is truly different than the old style of “breaking a horse”.  No bucking or bolting in fear to escape.  Just mellow calmness.  “TRANQUIL” as the Dominicans say.  I felt a deep sense of satisfaction and knew that the work I had done this month was so very worthwhile, for his owner but ultimately, for the horse.IMG_0422

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Later, I wrote my last blog for Sabine, about the many kite surfing schools in Cabarete.  I met a cool gal from France who runs one of the schools and we both were sorry we had not met earlier.  She encouraged me to come back next winter and market my sports therapy work at her place.  She offered me the use of her massage table. “Yes, you could set it up right here on the patio overlooking the ocean! I see clients all the time who could use your help.”  Sounds good to me!  She even offered to help me find a place to live before I arrive.  $50-$150/month on the low end, for a room near the beach!  Other incentives to return here showed up later in the day, while at Ali’s house with his family.

Later I took the taxi van to Samaneta and called Ali for a ride to the house, as planned, as he had invited me to have dinner and spend the night with his family.  This time I waited awhile at La Bomba gas station, many mottos coming and going, and some crazy young show-off riding circles around the others in a long drawn out “wheelie”.  Finally, someone showed up on Ali’s now familiar motto.  It turned out to be his youngest son this time, Daniel.  “Como esta?Como te llama?  Mucho gusto!” My typical greeting.  Big smiles and off we went to their house to find the whole family and neighbors hanging out in plastic chairs on the roadside, once again.  They all greeted me in Spanish and Dominican smiles and I was introduced to more women, one with a sleeping baby in her arms.  I went to see the foal and brought her out to the street.  I have always wanted to pick up a baby horse!  🙂  Here was my chance!  Her energy was low, as you can see from the photo.  I was pleased to see that Ali is giving her liquid vitamins.  Hopefully she will make it.

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Ali and his daughters were all talking about us going to La Bomba that night, around 9:30. (I discovered this word means “pump” which explains the name of the nightclub with it’s proximity to the gas station).   We were sitting around for what seemed like a LONG time and then went down the road to the “juice bar”.  There was Eloise, the 20 year old daughter, standing outside of a nearly empty, brightly lit, yellow room.  There was only a refrigerator and a couple of chairs.  On the back wall was a window with bars and wooden shutters.  We peered through and found about 12 men playing pool and others crowded around a table shooting dice.  They were all gambling, a favorite Dominican pastime.  I felt like a fly on the wall with a glimpse into the men’s private social scene!  Ali came over to say hello, all smiles, slightly drunk, and had his daughter pour him a rum and coke.  I had pineapple juice, straight, preparing for my night out with the 20 something year olds!  I finally realized that gambling was what the men would be doing all night.  And it was a girl’s night out!

Back at the house, it took the girls a LONG time to get dressed and when they finally were ready, we took photos.IMG_0439IMG_0440

I hadn’t come prepared for a night on the town but borrowed some tight, “hip” jeans, (you know the ones with the ragged holes in them?) and off we went making our way to La Bomba in the night, down the dirt road lit only by porch lights, through the barrio.  I was the only “gringa” and I felt safe and comforted by the presence of my new friends.  They spoke to me in Spanish and laughed at my replies and tries at forming complete sentences.  I was doing my best to get it right and they corrected me and I practiced some more. I was having a blast. And was amazed that I was actually able to converse with them!

We walked in through the opening in the chain link fence at La Bomba and sat down at one of the many plastic tables.  The girls ordered one beer to share.  A very LARGE beer, a Presidente.  The music was loud with it’s Latino beat.  People were singing to the music and I wished that I knew the words.  At one point I pretended and got a laugh out of one of the girls.

I looked around and for the longest time the only dancers I saw were those moving and grooving in their chairs…chair dancing!   Upper bodies moving and hands expressing.  I thought, “This is it?  This is what these people do?”  It wasn’t long before the REAL dancing began, however, and WOW,  do these people know how to dance!  Salsa, Machata, Merenge.  All very sexy and intimate.  It put our 70’s “grind” to shame.  The girls were being asked to dance and did. I, on the other hand, was praying that no one would ask me to dance!  I tried not to catch eyes with the guy at the next table who seemed interested.  I had noticed him earlier…a sort of plain looking middle aged guy with a baseball hat and t-shirt.  A woman in a red dress came over to his table to ask the men there to dance….all passed, except for this guy.  When they got out on the floor they moved like practiced partners.  Whoa.  I thought I was watching Dancing with the Stars!  Amazing Salsa dancers!  I did NOT want to get out there and make a fool of myself.  I would need some serious lessons first!  If I come back, the girls said they would teach me, in the house!  🙂

I was interested in leaving as it was getting late and I had an early morning and long day of travel the next day.  Of course the girls didn’t want to go and got across to me that the show was about to begin.  Show? Suddenly, out of a back door struts a young woman wearing a cop’s hat and g-string, round butt totally exposed.  Oh a strip show! OMG!  It wasn’t what I had expected! She was erotic and crude…..and I was amazed that she could be doing the things she was doing here at the outdoor gas station bar called La Bomba.  “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore!”  She did things to young Dominican men that I won’t bother to mention.  A scrawny guy was leading her around the place and then I realized that he was the money collector.  But I’m not sure if she made any money.  It seemed that no one was especially impressed with this straight faced beauty.  I think there was a shock factor that took people by surprise.  Well, took me by surprise anyway!  She finally left and a muscular guy in tight white pants only, with a white mask covering his face, appeared from the same door….oh now it was the MALE stripper!  It was HIS turn to do some crude things to the women and we pulled our plastic table close in front of us so that our laps were not looking like a nice place to settle.   A guy punched him at one point, probably because of what he “did” to his girlfriend, who was drunk and nearly unconscious and I thought the whole place had the potential to turn into a raucous brawl.  But the stripper regained his composure and the show went on!

It seemed to me that with both the female and the male stripper show, there was something so very degrading happening towards women.  I was done and had to leave.  I stood outside the fence, a gazillion mottos parked in a cluttered mass.  One of the daughters kept coming out to inform me to “Tranquil”, and held up fingers to indicate how many more minutes before we would leave.  I just smiled and tried to look, and be, patient.  We laughed a lot on the way home and I mimicked the salsa dancers, while moving down the sidewalk, which made the girls laugh out loud.  It was 1 am when we headed home, and made our way to the dark house.

The house is made of cinderblocks and the rooms are separated by curtains, as is the bathroom, which has a toilet but no running water.  Only a bucket for dunking a cup and for washing up. Eloise got the mosquito netting down and tucked it in under my mattress after we hugged goodnight and I hopped into my bed.  I fell asleep soon after my head hit the pillow.

Morning came quickly, Ali came into the room at the foot of the bed to wake me up.  His usual bright smile and warm demeanor.  He touched my foot through the mosquito net and we both smiled.  7 am.  Time to get up and go to “work”.  I said my goodbyes to the others, hugs to Ali’s wife and kids and went outside.  Pedro, the neighbor boy was there and the three of us went to feed the foal first thing and then we all walked over so I could see Ali’s 30 horses and his HUGE piece of land they roamed!  The morning golden sun shown on our faces and lit up the guys caribbean colored shirts, long shadows behind us.

Ali made it clear to me that when I come back I can “have” a horse for my own, to ride and care for.  I asked him to teach me how to trim horse hooves when I return.  He said he would. I said I will teach him and his family English and they are eager to help me with my Spanish.  We jumped on his motto, me wearing his helmet, and made our way through the village and headed down the road to the fancy equestrian center where we both worked.  A world away from his humble abode in the barrio.

Ali and his family adopted me saying I am now “familia”.  They are such warm and loving people with huge hearts. They have so little and yet have so much.  Their smiles and kindness are worth more than any amount of money one could have.  I told Eloise she is my new sister.  Her brother Daniel texted me today and told me I am his other mother because I was so kind to him.  🙂

I went to Dominican Republic to work with horses and got adopted by a Dominican family.  I like that.  I cried when I left but somehow I feel I will be back soon.

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5 thoughts on “Farewell To Dominican Republic

  1. What a great trip! You learned so much, great people…and yes the toughness that life is for many. Where to now? Enjoy! Nancy

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