We wake up fairly early. I am soaking wet and have been since I landed. The temperature is 89F and does not change. I felt like the night had been no cooler than the day. And, I slept very little. We were woken up by Luna barking and the rooster (who I hadn’t met the first day) crowing. Danny suggests a morning swim in the ocean. I say ‘fuck yeah’ and we walk down the steep path. Luna follows us down and takes two shits. We walk down the beach until we reach some calm teal water between rows of flat rocks. We swim out about 20-30 yards and then return. The water is calm, but not without a few waves that could put you down if you weren’t ready. After the swim, we got showered and drank some coffee and planned out our day. But first, we took a tour of the shack:
We would head back into Barahona to grab food, meet the plumber at the office, stop at the market, and then we’d head south to check out a surf competition in Playa los Patos. I met one of Danny’s neighbors. He was a 14 year old kid named Niko. He asked me if I lifted weights. I told him yes. We tried to communicate a bit. But, Niko spoke as much English as I did Spanish. We dapped knuckles, said “hasta manyana” and Danny and I drove to Barahona. With yesterday being a holiday, the streets were empty, but today they are busy. Many of the men work in Barahona by driving around on their motos and giving rides to people. Danny tells me that much of the income here comes from Dominican neighborhoods in NYC so that families can make it here without working. The few people that do work are selling fruits from the various farms up and down the coast. Another important place of business that is open today is the restaurant. Danny takes me to his go-to spot next door to his office. The woman speaks English but we order in Spanish. We get eggs with veggies and bread and coffee with lots of cream. After our brunch, we head stop in the office to meet the plumber and admire the new shower he installed in their bathroom. We check online for when the Pens play, and shoot the shit with the plumber about his new jeans and shirt. We then head to the market. The market is packed into a narrow alley way where they sell squash, peppers, shallots, garlic, and spices. There are big bags of cumin and curry and big bags of beans and rice. We grab some veggies and stop in the local grocery to grab pasta, cheese, and beer.
We walk to the square just a few blocks from the office. Lots of people and stray dogs walk past us and stare. We are the only white folks around. When we do see other white people, they always greet us. But, this time in the square, the only familiar sign is the redsox logo on the local sports book. Danny explains a bit more about Dominican culture as his plumber walks over to us in his brand new clothes. He is very happy, almost to the point of dancing. Danny points out that while many people here have very little, that they stay fresh by getting weekly haircuts and always keeping their shoes shined. He also told me about the racism that exists between the light skinned Dominicans and the dark skinned Dominicans, or even worse Haitians. He talked about a movie he recently saw where a man could change his skin color when he went out. But, when he woke up in the morning with a girl in his bed, he turned black again. The girl would scream and flip out. We finished our beer in the park and headed south to Playa los Patos. It is about a half hour drive and Danny points out the few haciendas along the way that look like hotels, but are used as rent by the hour beds. Since most people don’t have privacy in their houses, they have to take their girlfriends to these places in order to have sex. On our way to check out the surf competition, we stop a few times to take pictures and videos over the cliffs near San Rafael Beach.
The cliffs and pebble beaches are white and the water is teal. Once we made it down to the town, we park at a place where Danny used to live. All of his old neighbors and the little kids come over to greet us. The kids say Que loke? (What’s up) and stick out their knuckles to dap. We leave the truck and say hello to everyone and check out Danny’s old place. There was an old yoga mat left rotting on the floor. We walk down to the beach. The beach sits on the north edge of town which butts up against the mountains. A spring flows out of the mountain and is pumped under the bridge leading into town and into a rock lined pool before spilling over into a wide flat stream bed and into the ocean. They say it’s the shortest river in the world. The flowrate is about 1000 g/m based on my estimate. As people drink and swim and walk along the wall of the pool, loud music is playing and the restaurants along the beach are busy. The beach extends out into a peninsula with the river on our left and the sea on our right. As we walk out past the last cabana, I tell Danny that this is one of the best beach landscapes that I’d ever seen. The sediment bank from the river runs parallel to the beach. It is an incredible contrast where the blue ocean hits the beach which is only a thin peninsula with the river on the opposite side. We walk down to the beach and hear “Danny!” behind us. Walking toward us are two young girls. One is a weird tall blond girl who tells us that she just joined the peace corp or something and is going to be working to improve education. She makes a poor joke about the area. The other girl is a young Domincan girl who is in love with Danny. I can tell he feels bad brushing her off. As we walk away toward the surf tents, he tells me that she liked him, but was really young. He pointed out that many young Dominican girls want American or white looking men because they assume we have money. They want to fall in love, move to the USA, get married, and buy shiny shit. But they fall in love too fast, and too young. So, we continue walking down the beach. We make it to the surf competition but quickly realize we need a beer. We walk up to the corner store and end up stopping at the open bar with a pool table across the street. I smoke Danny in pool in about 6 minutes. We head back down and watch the surfers for a while before heading back to the river to cool off. When we arrive at the fresh water pool, we buy a coconut, which happened to come with a 9 year old kid in his underwear who followed us for the rest of the day to play catch with our football. We walked around and threw the ball, swam in the river, and swam in the pool. They were freezing and full of fish (some over a foot long). The fish and ducks (which the place is named after) feed on pizza crusts that kids throw out into the water. We sit down after our swim and eat some whole tilapa which was spicy and covered in cumin, fried plantains, beans and rice, and a crab curry. We are stuffed and decide to wash it down with a bottle of rum. Our little friend stopped over and squirted ketchup on his palm and ate it with a toothpick. It looked like this was not the first time he had done this. We fed the fish heads and scraps to stray dogs and ducks. Around this time, a girl named Lauren stopped by. Lauren had a nose ring and a short Dominican friend who quickly ran off to fall in love with the boys in the pool. Lauren said that she was from Boston and was designing a latrine out of used plastic bottles. I struggled to understand what a latrine was outside of a place shit goes. But, without my hand held google machine I had to assume it was a big hole full of bottles soon to be full of piss and shit. Lauren left to find her friend, and Danny and I bought some juice to mix with our rum. The juice was from a mango concentrate. The girl who mixed it put it with water and a half of a pound of sugar. We mixed our drinks and walked back to the beach to play some volleyball. Danny got us in a game already in progress to which we held our own. Two games and two drinks later, we each had some decent digs, spikes, and blocks. As the sun went down, the view of the mountains and beach were incredible. It looked like a storm was rolling in, so we made our way to a beach bar called Hollywood run by some swarthy looking Italians. We finished our rum and bought a beer. After it rained a bit, we drove back to the shack. We planned to keep the buzz going by picking up some weed from his co-worker, or stopping at a bar that holds cock fights, but she wasn’t home and the bar was not open. We had a drink or two at the shack and played dominoes late into the night. We discussed the next day’s plans which were to include some or all of the following: surfing, cliff jumping, watching the Pens’ game, and/or dropping acid. I got a bit more sleep the second night, but not much more. Luna still constantly walked by and licked my face or barked. The rooster still crowed early as hell, and after sitting by the river, I was covered in mosquito bites. The only thing that saved me from the itching was large quantities of Vicks vapor rub.