CIRCUS, n. A place where horses, ponies and elephants are permitted to see men, women and children acting the fool.
My experience in the Dominican Republic has been far more circus-like than anticipated.
It began with the sparkle and fanfare of a small band of Dominican musicians bursting into song upon our foray into the customs line. Then, we excitedly purchased our ten dollar ticket (or visa,) and then frantically attempted to fight our way through wayward crowds/drunken motorcyclists/infuriated taxi drivers to find ourselves below the above banner.
Much like at the actual circus, the food here was radically overpriced (surprising, given that a private bedroom here is only $30/night)--but instead of living on popcorn all week, I opted for rice. Did you know that many restaurants have at least five different condiments that you can put on rice in a variety of exotic and complex variations? No? Well, take it from an expert!
Our first day was lovely (the other days weren't bad, either.) The weather here is perfect ninety-nine percent of the time (it only rained once... for about fifteen minutes) and I was thrilled to learn that thanks to Italian and French, I could start my private Spanish lessons as "Beginner," and not "Absolute Beginner." Also, this beach. THIS BEACH:
You can't really see it there, what with the people and window grime and all, but it is quite lovely and quite often completely unencumbered by human hands/feet/etc. And it was, in fact, my playground. A slightly more visually accurate example:
AND THEN, like at all bawdy discount circuses, I was pickpocketed at the pool hall. Tossed from financial stability on this leg of my trip into beggardom like so many F. Scott Fitzgerald characters (Okay, mostly like The Beautiful and Damned.)
And so the week went! My trapeze technique improved drastically and I did some pretty sweet catch and returns from bizarre-looking aerial poses, my hands are torn to shreds, and I learned about a year of college Spanish in four days. My skin is tanned and bug-bitten. And all the while, I saved and saved at each dinner to be able to afford one nice night out on my last evening here--
and naturally, it all blew away in a freak gust of wind on the beach, with the exception of a few small peso notes which I gallantly ran after for over a mile (at probably my top running speed in about five years.)
Just like at the circus.
Now, with an impressive backpacking transition from tropical to ...not tropical climate gear, onto Western-then-Northern Europe!