Cold rain, the wind, lunch trash and I’m feeling like the color of Grouchy Smurf! Who wouldn’t? Last week, or for the archivists among you – recently, I was in the midst of heaven on earth. A cliché I am well aware. But the truth speaketh not a falsehood. Man, I was in the Dominican and the sun was shinin’ and the warm breeze was a blown’ and I was able to smoke a cigar at 8:30 in the morning on the grounds of what I call a glimpse into paradise. Now here I am plunked back down into the drink. Arargh!!!
It’s a mindset, right? I mean it’s all I have that I can control – my mind. Train it, mold it, exercise it. I can do that! Reason over fantasy, right? Mind over matter. Copy that! Affirmative. I CAN see beyond the blurred windows of this fast-food franchise restaurant I’m eating at – alone. I can visualize. Do it like Arnold did. Weider-trained and Strong!
Close my eyes and viz-u-a-lize!
The car’s interior is confining. I can’t smoke a cigar in there. Or won’t. I’m blistering my brain to think right now. How to relax? Get back to reality. Big boys don’t cry, big boys don’t cry . . . .
“Suck it up!” I can hear Sergeant Carter now. His method of motivation is the same as a sales manager who has the people skills of a Charles Manson.
“F%@k you! Carter!” (Pause) That’s not me? Is it? Did I utter such vulgarity? No! It’s my loud and often politically incorrect conscious bleating out the truth! All I know right now is this reality, and it does not appeal to me at all. My eyes mist over as I recall the days . . . .
Care for a swim in the pool at the De Los Reyes Cigar Factory’s villa? Or how about a fresh orange, or banana, or maybe a sip of pure coconut water from a street vendor in downtown Santiago. Maybe you’d rather chomp on a juicy avocado when you get home purchased from a twig of a man who just appeared at your side car window practically thrusting the football-sized fruit (yes, fruit – look it up) into your lap!
Or take a walk through the quiet streets of Tamboril and stop to eat the local fare. This one day I had chicken, avocado, rice and an ice-cold Sprite. I ate out in the open, shared my lunch with my love, and watched listlessly as the traffic passed by.
Maybe gaze at the colorful building, the public art painted on the walls, the smiles and the frowns of the locals. Or just stop. Stand in the middle of the sidewalk and breathe in the fresh, humid air that rustles down from the mountains that surround the island.
You can live any way you want to live in the Dominican. You can work as hard as you want. You can spend as much as you want. You can save as much as you want. The traffic is crazy and the drivers are insane, but it still isn’t Chicago or Detroit style traffic – it’s worse!!! But you will begin to undulate to the rhythm of the swervy roads and manic drivers’ decisions. Eventually, you’ll begin to sail along as if you were born there. Your heart is intact – out of your throat, and calm with rapture. And the car is unscratched – if only for one more day. (Lucky this trip, honestly.)
Cigars are mellower, brighter, tastier in Santiago and Tamboril – but, they aren’t cheaper. And truthfully you don’t care (What? Me buy a cigar?). You eat, drink, gawk, and puff as you walk, stride and drive. It is Mars. And lifeforms possessing grace, warmth, and friendship populate this terrain. And thank God they do.
The brilliance will continue to reflect its magic upon my being. You stalwart travelers who say my naïveté is showing? No. Not at all. I saw the hardships, I witnessed the poverty, I experienced the reality. I am not looking through rose -colored glasses. I have been able to reach beyond my grasp. My arms are not too short. My heart is still filled with the love I have for this island and its people. And on my return trip, ahhhh how I pine for that – my soul will feel the overflowing joy experienced by the prodigal son’s father upon his return.