Monday, February 13, 2012

guaguas and guavas

I've discovered the joy of the guaguas - a somewhat-organized system of vans and pickup trucks that the locals use to get around the Dominican Republic. Riding in the back of a truck has always been my favorite gas-powered way to travel. Here, the joyful combination of passengers and thrilling scenery makes a fun ride into pure bliss:

Buying coconut bread from an old lady named Modesta at 60 km / hour as she hitches a ride to her beachfront fish-shack with a bag of bread and a bucket of fish. Called to a halt at a barber shop, where a woman gives the guagua driver an empty bottle of hairspray and a wad of pesos, presumably to refill the hairspray and return to her later in the day.

Cruising slowly past beachfront villages with two young Dominicans who work at the Aquarium. They pass around an iguana and show me the boa constrictor packed in their bag.

Today is a rainy quiet day on the far Northeast tip of the Dominican Republic - an area renowned for it's clear water, plentiful beaches, and top-notch snorkeling. After a forty-five minute jungle hike to a completely private beach (pictured very top right), I snorkeled out and saw my first full-size flounder. I only noticed it because it was a perfectly fish-shaped patch of light sand. I swam closer and saw its two bulbous eyes blinking up at me. I could swim right down within a foot of his face without him flinching. Do flounders have adrenaline? I wonder if his heart was pounding, thinking "Oh god, I hope that big fish doesn't see me. He doesn't see. Think sand, think sand, I am sand.."

Vultures and pelicans soaring effortlessly in the thermals and low across the water. Stories of tarantulas and millipedes and a local boa that makes the chickens scream at night. Watching fireflies play across the room after the lights are out. Papayas, bananas, oranges and unrecognizable fruits hanging from the trees, free for anyone to pick and eat.

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