Thursday, February 23, 2006

On the Other Side

Life in the Third World is always full of surprises- some to do with lack of understanding others with lack of organization or communication. On Sunday I hopped across the border to the Dominican Republic. Just over the border our small 16 passenger plane started to descend. I knew we were no where near Santo Domingo yet and wondered why we were descending. Plane trouble? Did I get on the wrong flight? Were we being taken as hostages in the latest antagonistic move between Haiti and the DR? Of course, the pilots said nothing.

We landed at a small airport in Barahona. The place seemed new, but deserted. Turns out that the Dominican authorities moved the customs office to Barahona in an attempt to get more business there and to force air companies out of the airport in Santo Domingo, which is in the process of being closed. The good thing about the unexpected stop was that it was much less hectic than going through customs in Santo Domingo and I wasn’t asked to pay a tourist tax. Maybe I was supposed to pay it, and I’ll end up being thrown in tourist jail when I try to leave. We’ll see.

I’ll be here in Santo Domingo for two weeks studying Spanish. (Language number 4—I’m starting to wonder how much space I have left on the hard drive in my brain.) During that time I’ll be on an all carb and coffee diet- not necessarily by choice. Since I’m staying with a Dominican family I’m at their mercy for two meals a day which have so far consisted of bread, cereal and pasta. I’ve also been served coffee wherever I go. I’m hopeful that drinking four or five rich cups of coffee per day with lots of local sugar is somehow medicinal.

In the meantime, it’s nice to escape Haiti for a bit and become familiar with another countries joys, problems and surprises.

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