Earlier in the year we planned to go down to the DR in order to see Hubs' sister, who lives there. She works with victims of human trafficking; in particular, girls under 18. It is so sad to hear about things like this. Even though SIL works in the DR, human trafficking is everywhere- probably in your own hometown. Renting Lacy is a good book that my SIL recommends to anyone who wants to know more about this tragic "industry" that has gained more media attention in recent years.
In addition to seeing my SIL and learning more about the ministry she works for, we also got to meet her fiance, who is a Dominican. While my sister-in-law is white and short with stick-straight hair, her man is black with curly hair, and very, very tall. They are complete opposites, not only in personality but looks as well. He was super nice, and a very good cook. :) We got to be the first family members to meet him before the wedding this spring. Which makes me feel kind of privileged.
Time To Relax
We decided to stay in a resort town on the coast. This was not so much a "travel" vacation, but one of relaxation. We picked a few things to do each day- walking on the beach, buying souvenirs, eating out, sleeping, reading on beach, eating out, taking a nap... you get the idea. The sun really zapped our energy, so afternoon naps were a must.
1. Packing three adults on a tiny motorcycle. These were called "moto-conchos", and were usually 100-200cc bikes. Oftentimes, depending on the size of the driver, we would have between 450 and 500 pounds of flesh on one of those little bikes. If you think about the fact that our Honda Magna motorcycle is a 750, we should be able to haul fifteen people on it, for the amount of power it has.
2. Eating octopus. I ordered an octopus salad at one of the restaurants. The salad was good. I ate the ends of the octopus tentacles with ease (and they were pretty good). But when I got to the bigger, chewier parts with more suction cups on it, I lost my appetite. The idea of chewing on the suction cups kind of ruined it for me. The taste wasn't all too bad, but the chewy texture (like that of clams) and visual picture I got was enough to make me hand my plate over to Hubs, so he could finish it.
3. SEGWAYS!!!! We went on our very first segway tour. I was a little concerned that only old people would be there, but it turned out to be all couples that were our age. We went through a nature preserve, through a closed-down resort and beautiful beach area, plus we got to see a bunch of exotic farm animals, which was VERY cool. I thought that was the best, after buzzing around on the segways, of course. To anyone who has seen the commercials on TV and wondered what it was like, segways are just as fun as they look. It took a little while to get the hang of using your balance to steer and control speed, but after that it was super, super enjoyable. Only one girl could NOT get the hang of it, so the instructor had to pull her segway behind his, with her screaming at every little bump or turn. It was kind of hilarious.
4. Ziplining. In the middle of the week we decided to do a zipline "adventure" outside of the resort area. The ziplining was kind of fun, but for me the equipment was uncomfortable and I was unsure when/if to brake at the end. Even though the instructors said that the zip lines went as fast as a roller coaster, they felt kind of slow to me. It would be more fun the second time around, I think. My favorite part was seeing the starfruit trees and cacao pods while we waited at each station. It only took 45 minutes or so to complete all of the ziplines, and most of that time was spent walking to each station. I'm not sure if I would do it again for $65.00+ per person. The segway tour was a lot less work, more fun, and lasted longer for the same amount of money.
3. Dominican salesmen. In Guatemala, where we have been to open-air markets, salesmen will often yell out prices and solicitations. "Good price, good price for you! Five for the bag! Good price!" Sometimes they will even follow you, lowering the price every ten seconds until you are out of earshot.
Dominican salesmen, however, are even more direct. Instead of chasing after you, they step in front of you so you can't get away. "Hello friend, how are you doing. Where are you from. Will you please stop in my store and see what I have? See, I will show you what I have." When you try to step around them or say no, they still persist. "What are you looking for? Come look in my store for just five minutes. Please, stop in my store. I have mamajuana. You want mamajuana*? You want cocao, you want jewelry, you want souvenirs? Okay, okay, you come back later." And after five minutes, you are finally free to continue to wherever it was you wanted to go in the first place.
Some of the encounters we had were so funny that I tried to capture them on video. One night as the sun was setting, we heard someone come up behind us. We kept on walking.
"You looking for souvenirs? Come see my shop. I have everything you want."
"No thanks." Hubs said, still walking.
"Just come back and look for a minute. I have souvenirs, I have hats, coffee, mamajuana. What you want?"
"I want my bed." Hubs said.
"You want chocolate? You want... what?"
"I want my bed." The salesman paused a moment.
"You want bed?? You funny, you funny," he said, and then finally turned around.
Another morning we were on our way to the beach. A bunch of Dominicans were sitting outside a barbershop. As we walked by, one of them yelled out, "You need a haircut?" Hubs said no. Without missing a beat, the same guy said, "You need a moto to rent?" We are still laughing about that. Haircuts and motorcycle rental- what a business plan!
So, another stamp in the passport.
Til next time,
*Mamajuana is not a drug. It is an herbal concoction soaked in honey and rum, perportedly for medicinal use. But no, not a drug... although some of the salesmen tried to sell those, too.