Monday, January 30, 2012

burnt plastic upon the soothing wind

There's a strong wind coming off the Atlantic this morning, but it's warm. Feels like a big soft pillow is rubbing against my skin.

It's a cloudy day - the end of the rainy season, apparently. The light that's filtering through is casting everything in a gorgeous diffuse grey-blue.

This is a long weekend in the Dominican Republic - the day of Duarte. Duarte was one of the founders of the Dominican Republic, who helped separate it from Haiti (which shares the island of Hispaniola with the D.R.). Two nights of loud partying and big fires on the beach. We're not talking Canadian wood bonfires, though - these are garbage fires! Yum. Thick grey smoke and the smell of burning plastic and rubber that got stronger as the night wore on and more garbage was piled onto the fires. It got so bad that I woke up at 3 am thinking a kitchen appliance was on fire.

I'm not sure about the entire country, but the area I'm in is incredibly international. One thing I like is that there is very little North American influence, but a lot of European influence. Even though the island is fairly close to Florida, there are far more Italians, Germans, Swiss and French people here than Americans. You can get a pizza or a panini anywhere, but no hamburgers. None of the products are American either - the soap is from Germany, the cars are either Peugeots or Daihatsu, the canned and processed food is mostly from Italy. Who woulda thought? For some reason I've had the impression that the US Export industry would have dominated all the nearby countries with trade agreements. It's refreshing to see that's not the case. It gives me a fresh perspective on how much US culture and material we consume in Canada.

Even the international gringo population is fairly small, so I'm getting a lot of full-on 100% Dominican culture. No all-inclusive resorts within one hundred kilometers at least! Ahhhh.

The people here are as friendly as I've seen anywhere in the world, except maybe Newfoundland. I can only think of one person out of probably a thousand has not smiled, laughed, and been friendly. Twice already I haven't had enough money to buy something, and both times the shopkeeper just told me to take it and pay them later. The uninhibited openness of people here soothes my soul.

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