Today we ventured to the neighboring village of Rio San Juan, a 15-minute ride from the resort. We have lots to share but in the interest of brevity and getting us to dinner on time, here are some of our observations and highlights:
- Rio San Juan is accessible by semi-public transportation that runs from mid-morning until 6 PM. It’s called the “guagua”, costs around $1 per person and is essentially a white mini-van with an extra row in the back. Our tiny guagua chauffeured 21 people (I counted!) to the village. We were the last two to squeeze in (really clown-car style, I don’t know how we fit) and Jay accidentally stepped on a lady’s toe when getting to his seat. She yelped and he spent half the ride practicing “I’m sorry that I stepped on your toe!” in Spanish. When he successfully delivered the line at the end of the ride, she smiled a big smile and practiced her English, saying “Okay sure, no problem in Rio San Juan!”
- We walked down Duarte Street, the main drag of Rio San Juan, exploring the area as we got closer to the festival. There were open construction sites with bits of cement flying in the air and landing on passersby and there were chickens roaming free in the street, but there was also a very-well organized recycling plant just outside the lagoon. Go figure!
- We didn’t stay for the evening part of the festival, but we got a pretty good feel for the festivities: Lots of beer, music and colorful home-made costumes being sold and paraded around the center of town. (Dominican Independence Day is this week, so there have been many festivals throughout the country.) Also, I’ve accepted the fact that the dances of choice in the DR are bachata and merengue, so my salsa will have to wait for our next visit to Latin America. Fortunately, Yair is getting better at bachata and merengue so every cloud has a silver lining!
- We sat alongside the beach (stunning) and watched four boys with a giant machete knife hack into a coconut they found and have the pleasure of eating its fruit. It’s amazing how everyone and everything starts so young here – driving a motorcycle, carrying a machete, riding a horse through town – even having babies. Most of the staff (even teenage staff) here on the resort have children and many of them are no longer with their child’s other parent. Teen pregnancy doesn’t seem to stem from the island’s Catholic roots (prohibition against birth control) – it just seems to be something that happens and is regarded quite casually by the culture – no stigma at all.
- I have continued to practice my Spanish with the staff and our new friend Leo. More of my Spanish is coming back and Yair is starting to converse in Spanish as well. Leo offered us a ride back to the resort from RSJ on his motorbike and we took him up on it. I am a total safety fiend and would likely never ride a real motorcycle, but everyone gets around here by motorbike, we returned during daylight hours and he drove really slowly and carefully. It was SO awesome – warm weather, gentle breeze in your hair, deep and lush forest on the right, gorgeous beach on the left, on our way back to dinner in paradise. Shehecheyanu!
posted by amybetho