Ah, fall. The winds change, the weather cools, leaves die, football -the only sport- finally awakens the passion that Americans fake for baseball, and northerners hunker down for the upcoming winter. Of course, here that means the rainy season is coming to an end, the temperatures drop from a sweltering low-90’s to a balmy high-80’s, the grapes are no longer in season but everything else still is, and football is watched by lonely gringos on choppy internet streams and radio broadcasts. And hunkering down? No way, baseball season is just around the corning with tourist season following soon after.
It’s been an exciting few weeks since hitting my halfway point here. I was hired out for a week to travel with a bunch of dentists for work in campos with no access (physically or monetarily) to such services. We worked up in the northern part of the country for four days, setting up and breaking down all the equipment each day. Because few of the gringos spoke Spanish, I was mainly there to help facilitate the process and help with any translations (“it hurts here”, “No, I will not get my tooth pulled today”, etc.). I wrote something up for it, when it goes live on the website I’ll link to it.
Since then, I haven’t really traveled much, but I did spend the past weekend at nearby Playa Juan Dolio playing some Ultimate Frisbee with some bros and without sunscreen. Kids, wear protection – just because you’re totally bro’ing out on the beach playing a totally awesome sport doesn’t prevent the killjoy sun from burning the skin cancer into you. I do look so tan though, until i moult.
Today marks the day I definitely (do not) buy a ticket to (nowhere near) Cuba. I will (not) be there December 1-8, (as it would be against the rules) as a perfect end to the Caribbean chapter in my career as a human. In preparation for this completely insane (and fictional) trip, I have started……salsa classes. Oh boy. I’m only one class in but I’m pretty sure I am qualified to teach it. Damn, when I’m in Havana (after my dear government lifts the travel ban and not a minute before), I’m going to feel like Hunter S. Thompson or Hemingway – a baller.
Next week will be four months here, two months to go (~10 weeks). I feel like any trip you take, the 2/3 point is when the anxiety kicks in. In Boston, the feelings hit the beginning of my junior year – what am I going to do after? Am I going to stay in Boston, are all my friends? Where have these past three years gone? Why am I on the floor? Here, I’m starting to think about all the things I wanted to do here and whether I’m getting them done. The language and day-to-day living has moved from fearfully incompetent to not even a thought in my mind. I even got called the “gringo with the most tigueraje that’s worked here” (tigueraje means attitude colloquially). I haven’t seen as much of the country as I’d have liked by now, there are too many amazing places to go to even if I left the city every weekend. However, I am looking on getting my tripping back on this weekend with a trip to Jarabacoa to hike, waterfall, and tour a coffee factory.
Relationships are the hardest part here, because it’s putting effort into something that has a loud ticking clock from the start. Not to be morose, but there’s always a ticking clock on one’s life, so it’s no reason to avoid building friendships. I’ll miss it here, and I’ll miss the people. When the time comes to leave, the way to continue the relationship is to take a bit of it with me wherever I go, in memory or tigueraje. There’s no doubt I would love to return for visits or even live for a longer period of time, but there’s also no certainty that it will happen, so just making the most of the time is what’s going to be important.
Living here is the catalyst for not stopping myself out of fear or hesitation. If I make a fool out of myself in salsa class, who cares? I’m a gringo speaking gringo spanish anyways. Is going to Cuba illegal and without the safety nets Americans generally enjoy throughout the world? Yes, but it’s based around a retarded out-dated law from McCarthyist fears of communism taking over the world, so who’s really the scared one if I don’t go? The only fear should be of regret, because that’s the only real eternal punishment of any action or non-action.
That got deep, unnecessarily. Hakuna Matata, homies.
Reading: Righteous Victims, Benny Morris (I’ve read The Corrections (5 stars), World War Z (2 stars) in the interim)
Learning: Technique and music theory to understand what the hell I’m doing with this instrument
Dominicanismo: “Si como caminas cocinas, guardame un chin de concon.” – If you cook like you walk, save me a little bit of burnt rice cake.
Burnt rice is a delicacy here, it’s a pick-up line. Oh yeah.