February 8, 2012

An Adventure

It's fun to be here with Mum and Erin, but I have to say that for the pure adventure potential, you need yourself an 11 year old boy, and Hank's my man on the ground.  Yesterday we decided to go on an adventure, and after slathering our pathetically Canadian winter skin with sunscreen, off we went.  We had only two goals. Find out what was beyond the little point near our beach, and buy some food.  We're cooking for ourselves here for most meals, and that means adventuring to find out what people here eat,  what it's called and how to prepare it.  So far we really only had coffee, tea, the box milk,  bread, cheese and three apples that we're pretty sure came from Canada, they were so old and yucky.  Apples, clearly are not a Caribbean thing, but we were so tired and confused that first trip to the supermercado, that we bought them just because they were familiar. They were expensive too - so yesterday I was on a mission to find out what produce was local, cheap and good.

Hank and I struck out for the point - walking along the beach and seeing all that we could see.  In the afternoon the wind comes up here, and the kite surfers come out in throngs.  Hank stopped periodically to survey and count them.

(If it matters to you, as it did to Hank, you might like to know that there were 56 kite surfers) On the way we found a stand that sold iced tea (which is nothing like at home, but "still very good" according to Hank.)  When we got to the little point, it turned out that there were three big rocks, and a guy selling shells.  This was not at all disappointing, since for some time as we walked towards them, we thought there was just rocks.  Rocks with shells was very impressive, comparatively speaking.

Still, we hadn't found any fruit or vegetables at all and the gentleman and I figured that maybe there were only restaurants on the beach, not stores, and so we struck our way through a posh hotel, and out to the road.  (There is only one road in Cabarete, so if something is not on the beach, it must be on the road.) We walked along (discovering that the bushes next to us were chock full of a million spiders, which we decided to be very careful about, since, as Hank pointed out "we aren't from here and we don't know what's dangerous."  I was pretty sure they weren't dangerous, but a little danger is a good thing on an adventure, so I didn't disabuse him of the notion.)  After a while we both of us were surprised to come across chickens. 

Chickens, right there at the side of the road, walking around and doing whatever it is that chickens seem to do, with baby chicks in tow. (The baby chicks were a particularly good part of the adventure, and Hank took this picture so that we could show his Gramy and Mum.)

We both agreed that if we were chickens, we would think that the side of the road was a sub-optimal place to trot around with your babies, but again - we conceded that we know little of the motivation of Dominican chickens (or chickens in general) and that maybe the side of the road was the very best place to be.  "We don't know" Hank posited, "what is lurking off the road." 

We kept walking, and saw a little stand up ahead on the road, and as we got closer, we talked about what it might be.  Probably a food place, Hank thought (probably because we were looking for a food place) and we started thinking about what we hoped to find.  I wanted avocados (it seemed like they might grow here, and I love them) and Hank wanted a coconut.  "A coconut?" I asked him.
"Yes," replied Hank, with a great deal of seriousness. "A coconut so we can open it and drink what's inside. You can do that." 
"I know you can do that Hank, or rather, I know it can be done - but how do you do it? I don't know if we should buy a coconut.  I think they're hard to open."
"We could google it."

We walked along the dusty road with the chickens until we were at the stand, and lo and behold, it was food.  There were eggs, sitting out in little flats, (that made total sense.  All those chickens had to be doing something) and there were indeed avocados, and tomatoes, and cucumbers, and little bananas, and pineapples. Little oranges, and something that looks not quite like a lime but might be (I don't think it is, but neither Hank nor I had any idea) and this pale green vegetable that we had eaten in a restaurant the night before that was really tasty.  I don't know what they're called, but they're used like potatoes here, even though they're not really all that starchy.  We bought one because we knew they were good, and we thought we could figure out how to cook it.  Most exciting of all.  Coconuts.  Big green fresh coconuts, sitting right there.   Hank and I immediately began to debate the merits of buying one (if you can't get it open, what's the point VS holy cow Stephie it's a coconut I don't care if we can't open it) and eventually the guy who owned the stand took the coconut out of Hank's hands, tapped it, taught him a new spanish word ("dura") and mimed drinking from the coconut.  Hank's face lit right up, and right there, the guy got a machete (machetes are very exciting all by themselves) and whacked away at the coconut, then stuck a straw into it, and handed it to a very thrilled Hank.

I paid for the fruit and vegetables (I think that when they tell me the price, I'm supposed to be negotiating. Haggling isn't really a Canadian thing, and it doesn't come naturally to us as a people.  Every time someone here tells how much it is,  I just give them the full amount, and then they all sort of smile at me like I'm a happy accident that's wandered into their day. Must work on this.) and we walked back the rest of the way along the road back to the house, where we showed off our spoils,

and were welcomed home like the conquering heroes that we felt like. 

We found out what was beyond the point,  We counted kite boarders, we found food, we saw chickens, and we got a fresh coconut.  It could not possibly have been more exciting.  Not in any way. 

PS.  Today's Spanish words: Dura = Hard (that one made sense, once we thought of "durable")  Pina = Pineapple (also made sense, once we thought of Pina Coladas.) Pollo = chicken, Cuanto = how much )

PPS. That was the best pineapple I've ever had.

Posted by Stephanie at February 8, 2012 10:09 AM