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The Learning Curve of Travel

Joanne 2007-10-22
With every new place visited there is a new curiosity to be fed, the senses are indulged with new sights, smells, foods and people. There is a rebirthing process which takes place upon arrival to each new location and begins the moment we have left the previous destination. Some places require little to no "labor"- these places are relatively effortless and painless to incorporate ourselves into while other places a lengthy and sometimes arduous process ensues. Invariably, our basic needs which must be met are the same as with every newborn - to be nourished and out of harm's way.

Figuring out which way is "up", is part of the adventure and of the unfolding of our journey. Where will we sleep? Where will we eat? How will we get from one place to another? How much is it supposed to cost? Is this person to be trusted? Where are we?...Are just a few of the many questions and unknowns that are a part of our rebirthing process when we arrive to a new place. Hand in hand we find our way, and the ways of a place and its people are learned.

With every passing day, newness falls away and a routine begins to set in. The routine offers small pleasures that would otherwise be taken for granted, knowing where we will sleep and eat leaves much time for deeper exploration and introspection.

When arriving in the Dominican Republic, we landed in Santiago and still needed to make our way to our final destination of Cabarete. We were only able to take a bus as far as Sosua, because the taxi union disallowed buses from going to Cabarete. Conveniently, taxi's awaited the arrival of the buses and pounced on each person who disembarked hoping to get a fare. Not knowing any different, we bit and took a taxi.

We soon learned that there are other much cheaper means of travel around the Dominican. Gua gua's are mini-vans that will stuff as many people in as are willing to get in, no specific stops just wave out your hand and one will surely stop in no time at all.

Photo: Photo taken 2007/10/12 at 16:53 [CIMG2300]
Then there's the "moto-conchos" (motorcycle taxis), main streets are lined with all types of 2 wheeled transport, varying from mopeds to motorcycles in all conditions. These too will take as many passengers as are willing to get on, the most I've seen so far is 5, four adults and 1 child. No need to wave out your hand simply walk a few steps and the driver's will whistle when they drive past in either direction - not to be mistaken for the local cat call which is a very distinctive kissing noise. The young Dominican men who usually drive these moto-conchos seem to spray their testosterone in a stream of obnoxiously loud mufflers and drive at crushing speeds, always helmet free as if this display were a measure of their machismo.

Paul had his first ride on a moto-concho the other night. The motorcycle had no headlamp making them invisible on these unlit streets, but this didn't seem to phase the driver one bit, maybe we'll stick to gua guas.

Photo: Photo taken 2007/10/15 at 13:17 [CIMG2334]
When arriving to Cabarete, we were initially inundated with locals trying to sell us goods and services of all sorts, one shoe shine boy even tried to convince Paul that he should get his flip flops shined, did I mention that Paul's flip flops are made of plastic?! Another woman on the beach stated with conviction that Paul's hair is long enough for her to braid, thankfully he passed on her offer. As the days passed and we walked the same streets and the same shoreline of beach, the locals began greeting us and chatting it up instead of making a sale their primary objective, inviting us into their culture.

Photo: Photo taken 2007/10/18 at 11:45 [CIMG2426]
We have discovered a wonderful bakery with freshly baked bread, the owner greets us with a kiss and open arms, along with the occasional impromptu meringue dance lesson behind the counter.

Photo: Photo taken 2007/10/14 at 14:25 [CIMG2327]
Photo: Photo taken 2007/10/14 at 15:46 [CIMG2329]
One day I ran into Collasa, the woman who cleans our room, she was carrying what to me was a foreign looking vegetable that I have since learned is called guan pan. After questioning her about it, without a second thought she invited me to her home to learn how it is prepared.

On another day when no winds blew, we traveled up into the nearby mountains and joined a canyoning crew for the day. Starting at the top of a ravine, we descended throughout the day to its base across rocks and stream bottoms, over boulders, swimming through pools, rappelled down waterfalls, jumped off cliffs into pools of crisp fresh water. All the while, surrounded by lush vegetation, songbirds and rays of sun occasionally piercing through the canopy.

Photo: Photo taken 2007/10/12 at 10:32 [CIMG2230]
Photo: Photo taken 2007/10/12 at 10:46 [CIMG2238]
Photo: Photo taken 2007/10/12 at 10:51 [CIMG2243]
Photo: Photo taken 2007/10/12 at 11:07 [CIMG2255]
Photo: Photo taken 2007/10/12 at 11:09 [CIMG2257]
Photo: Photo taken 2007/10/12 at 11:44 [CIMG2269]
Photo: Photo taken 2007/10/12 at 12:11 [CIMG2288]
Photo: Photo taken 2007/10/12 at 12:13 [CIMG2291]
Photo: Photo taken 2007/10/12 at 12:23 [CIMG2292]

These days our routine has us wake after a full restful sleep, we make our way to the beach, do some yoga, go for a swim then return to our hotel where Marsia, one of the owners, has been kind enough to let us use her fridge to store some health filled treats which we bring with us to our favorite breakfast spot. We usually rest until about 1pm, when the winds pick up, beckoning Paul to strap his kite on and be drawn by their power across the ocean - his new sport: kitesurfing (more from Paul later).

Photo: Photo taken 2007/10/17 at 17:58 [CIMG2406]
Photo: Photo taken 2007/10/17 at 18:17 [CIMG2418]
Photo: Photo taken 2007/10/17 at 18:22 [CIMG2420]

Our routine, our favorite spots and new found friends will soon be left behind only to re-start the learning curve of traveling to new places all over again, but with each destination we bring just a little bit more experience and know more of ourselves as we go.


Permalink by Gug   |  October 22, 2007 02:52 PM

How free can you be, there's your answer. Good on you.

Permalink by Bill   |  October 23, 2007 06:56 AM

But once again you astonish and amaze me with your exploits, surroundings and the apparent ease with which you blend into the local culture.

Permalink by Karen Lazarovitz   |  October 29, 2007 01:20 PM

I'm so sorry you guys are roughing it! It sounds like a tough life, LOL. Love hearing about it. Keep the pictures and explanations coming. We love you and miss you.

Permalink by Uta and Charles Morisset   |  November 7, 2007 05:28 AM

Hi Paul and Johanne,
You really savour in the fullest every moment of your life. It is wonderful to read the spirituel packed comments and to see these marvelous photos.We envy you!!!!

Guess who! Your neighbours Charles and Uta

Permalink by Pedsarod   |  November 8, 2007 07:50 PM

Hola queridos amigos Paul & Joanne!! Soy Pedro de Santo Domingo. This is to let you know how happy I felt meeting you. Several common friends asks me about you. People here love you. You both are so kind, inteligent and friendly. Good look and hope to receive notices from you. Perdonen algĂșn error written english [lol]


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