Dominican time is something I still need to get used too. The plan was to meet at central park at 9 am to watch the parade. I don’t have a cel phone here so once I leave my haven of wifi I am on my own. I decided to leave at 9:15 because I thought it would be fashionably late probably everyone would just be arriving at around 9:20-30. I was wrong everyone got there a few minutes before 10. I didn’t mind waiting, I’m not complaining about that- that’s not the point of the story it is on how when you want to meet someone expect that you will actually meet 30 minutes to an hour later.
At the park when I was basking in the morning sun that was shining down on the massive Catholic Church I was sitting beside, waiting for everyone, random vendors would try to speak to me like they would to all of the other tourist. And I found it quite annoying. The one guy came up to be telling me that he could show me the best place to see the parade for a small price and I told him in Spanish the only thing I want to see are my Dominican friends. Then he left me alone. The power of Spanish and an early morning ‘I don’t want to deal with this face’ helped me out in that situation because I refuse to be thought of as ‘typical ignorant tourist.’
The parade consisted of the different schools in Puerto Plata competing against each other as they celebrated Duarte Day. It was nice being able to recognize all of the children walking in the parade from the school I go to everyday. In the afternoon I got a ride back to my house and went to my upstairs neighbours for lunch, which consisted of a mountain of food that I could not finish on my plate and watching a movie in English.
The afternoon was the most exciting part of the day because it was my very first time going to the beach. My soul felt complete when my feet touched the sand and I threw off my sandals and threw my towel on the ground. Dominicans in their quest to be whiter choose a spot that was in the shade. I think I was the only person that protested this decision. As soon as we got there I dragged my one friend into the ocean and I did cartwheels and everything felt perfect. In my excitement running towards the ocean I almost knocked someone over. It was awkward.
I could feel my friend the sun looking down at me causing my face to turn a little more pink. At least I didn’t turn into a lobster so I can’t complain too much. And when I plunged into the water, it felt like I was being greeted by a familiar friend. Every time I am in the ocean, my tongue is filled with a salty taste- like I’ve eaten too many potato chips and my hair gets knotted by the force of the powerful waves stretching towards the sand. But I love it. On Playa Dorada the resort is on the right side and the part for locals to swim in is on the left. In the distance I could see mostly white figures moving on the beach and sometimes those figures would venture out further walking down the on the seashore. One of the people that walked down the beach was an old man wearing a bright purple speedo and for some reason his skin had a purple tinge to it.
I was swimming happily in the ocean when I could hear my name being called in a Spanish accent and my friends called me over to look at something. They pointed out the purple man and started laughing saying ‘you want to be purple, you want to look like that’ I was mortified.
Often I would hold my breath and move against the waves swimming further away from the shore only coming up for seconds for air. I would go as far as I could before I would hear my name being echoed over the waves telling me to come back. I think my Dominican friends were surprised with how I could swim without fear into the deeper water.
When the magical time with the ocean came to an end and my friends drove me back to the house, I washed the sand out of my hair, changed into my pyjamas and got my laptop out ready to start writing about last week… when I found out I had a meeting to go to in 10 minute. I had just enough time to change into jeans before the pastor came to the house to pick me up and drive to hotel to sit down and talk more specifically about English classes I would teach.
In the hotel is where the group of people from my old high school were staying. It was very interesting to see everyone’s reactions to a place that is becoming so familiar to me. Then I realized, like running into the ocean, being here feels like I’m seeing a familiar friend.