Today, January 2, 2013, I am in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. And no matter what I do on these travels I can never get away from ME. I am observing my brother and sister-in-law closely and it appears they brought themselves along on this trip too.
I, for example, spent my first days in our latest little low-budget hotel on Parque Colon with my second-floor balcony doors wide open through the worst of the New Year’s noise because my brother selected this hotel in which, it turns out, the choice is between having a balcony room on a busy street in this spectacularly noisy culture and having a quiet back room without real windows. My ‘slight’ tendency toward martyrdom demanded I suffer—so for the many-hours celebration I was privy to every scream, shout, laugh, horn, siren, musical note, dog bark, fire cracker…and I suffered meaningfully! And here I thought annoying personal traits stayed at home if one traveled far enough. But no, wherever I go, there I am.
It is not just me however.
Marsha, my fairly in-most-ways normal sister-in-law, has now taken note of, worried about, and/or commented on every single dog within sight. Fat dogs, skinny dogs…ugly, beautiful, big, small, mangy, slick, brown, black, white, nosing in the garbage, sleeping in the corner dogs. She looks optimistically about for a responsible adult—hoping against hope it is not just another stray. She has been known to speak ill of cultures, countries, societies, world regions, continents, hemispheres where dogs are neglected. She will NEVER EVER visit China even when they rule the whole world.
And then there’s Robert, the brother. He stalks down the street with a serious demeanor, hands in pockets, looking neither to the right or left. This works well on pleasant country paths, not so well on hectic city streets where he could easily lose his beloved wife and sister to a Dominican back alley. Blocks ahead he remembers he was with someone and peers around, relieved or not, to see us moseying along as though we were doing this for fun! And the other thing about Robert, like me he has a certain tendency toward Scandinavian moroseness, but the Jekyll-Hyde turnaround after only two Presidentes is quite remarkable. He’s practically fun…
Yet one more confession from me, major foodie failure of the world. Sadly this one also includes my traveling companions. While we say we want to experience the culture partially through the local cuisine—we actually want doughnuts, peanut butter and pizza. I hasten to say we do eat other things, nothing too adventurous but still food of the country. Pumpkin and corn soup, big platters of fresh avocado, lots of Presidente beer. But—and how I still hate to admit this—at the end of the day we long for…doughnuts, peanut butter and pizza. I am only exaggerating a little unfortunately.
I am including a pieces from the Museum of Modern Art that I cannot credit because I forgot to take the names. Please forgive me. I hope to go back to the Culture Park tomorrow or the next day and will get the names.
The main Mercado, Museum of Modern Art and a walk by the Presidential Palace were on today’s agenda. And a most enjoyable lunch at a completely empty upscale restaurant near the museum where we had ravioli of a new sort; pear, blue cheese and arugula salad and carrot ginger soup. We wondered why there were no people until we remembered we were in a Latin country ordering lunch at 12:30. Some Americans simply have no class/manners/concept of time/idea of where they are.
The Museum was hosting a huge architectural exhibit so the only art-art was on the top floor and there was little of it. Interesting work from the permanent collection. A very sweet, articulate and knowledgeable guide accompanied me the whole time, speaking only Spanish. She smiled a lot so I know she was nice. She spoke a number of Spanish words I recognized but unfortunately there were 10 or 12 words I didn’t understand between each of them. However she was speaking with such pleasing intonation that I knew that she knew just what she was talking about.
Robert just stopped by my room to tell me he had a hot dog on their evening walk. I think we can truly say we are not ‘ugly Americans’ but predictable might apply.
Here are many random shots from the Christmas New Year’s Caribbean adventure.