We got up yesterday, my mum, my sister, Hank and I at 3am, and went to the airport. We spent the day bleary and exhausted, staggering through Toronto, then Newark, then finally landing in Puerto Plata – and the minute we landed we all had our energy back – or what passed for energy until we could sleep, which was enthusiasm. We were stereotypes of Canadians landing in the Caribbean. "It’s so warm!" "It’s so green!" "Look! A palm tree!"
We got in a cab, and immediately noticed two things. One, we don’t speak Spanish. We knew this of course, but it was still a shock to realize that me, with my twenty or thirty words of Spanish, was going to be our resident and incompetent translator. I have words like hola, adiós, Buenos dias, gracias, de nada, beinvenidos, como estas, aqui, agua, frio, calliente, cerrado, banos – which means I can get beer and bathrooms with a reasonable degree of politeness, but is absolutely not enough to say "We would like to go to the house with the pink front by the hotel near the beach after Cabarette" which frankly, is the address we had. (Not quite, but like I’m telling the internet exactly where I am.) Through a series of butchered Spanish words, we managed to get there, mostly rescued by Hank, who somehow remembered the word for "pink" and that nailed it.
(I have a feeling we have Dora the Explorer to thank for that.) The second thing that we noticed is that people here drive, by Canadian standards (which is saying something) like LUNATICS. They should all be dead in the streets. No speed limits here, no rules, no nothing. Just you in a beat up honda with all your luggage, speeding down the road and dodging guaguas (little buses, full of people and chickens and boxes) and people on little motorbikes, all weaving and shouting and honking. Nobody is dead in the street though, so it obviously works for them and they have the skills to handle it, and we just have to breath through it.
We got to the little beach house that will be our home for the next little bit, and marveled at the view, the green, the palm trees and the sea, and got a little bit settled, and then Erin and I got brave, and went to the supermercado (supermarket) in Cabarette. (The frightening ride in a cab is here implied.) We saw tropical fruit and a few vegetables we didn’t recognize, and tried to buy milk, which turned out to be a little tricky. There was white stuff in jugs in the cooler, but it turned out to be yoghurt, but after searching for a while, I remembered that the word for milk is leche, and asked for it. We were pointed to sealed boxes sitting on the shelf next to canned beans.
We ended up buying coffee, tea, boxed milk, sugar (that was confusing too) good bread, what we really, really think is cheese – then panicking and deciding to retreat until we could regroup – we grabbed six cold beers and left. We’ll do better today. We had a beautiful sleep last night, listening to the sea pound right by us, and this morning I’ve found a good knitting spot, and made wonderful coffee.
It’s going fine and I love it.