Adjusting: Sans Boston


This may be called sentimentalism, but a certain sense of loneliness engendered by traveling leads one to reflect upon the meaning of life, for life is after all a travelling from one unknown to another unknown. – D.T. Suzuki

What is this odd feeling of unease? It’s not intense, a little melancholy, something’s just off. Since I don’t and have never experienced ‘homesickness’, it can’t be that. Since going to camps hundreds of miles from home and pitying the fools who needed to have a reminder of their old life every day or cried the first night, I developed an immunity to the allergies of being “somewhere else”. I enjoy the strangeness of traveling and displacing myself in far-away places, ironic considering you can’t really travel that far around the plane of a small sphere. That’s what led me to Boston from Seattle, backpacking through Europe, and now eschewing the straight path out into a nice flourescent job and shifting to the Dominican Republic. I chose it in part because I was going a little stir-crazy. Not out of boredom, but the fear of becoming complacent and following a LIFE board game path letting the dice roll and cards drawn as they may. With the mirage of choice to take a left turn comes sacrifices, all of which leave a feeling of emptiness at some point.

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Life Lessons

I know you all are eagerly anticipating the release of my next thriller, Climb, Repeat; Jump, Repeat, but I have to get a few Monday things out of the way first. I have learned a lot today, and wanted to share with my loyal readers tips to help in everyday life.

From Chef Mr. Eat-Garlic:

– If the chicken smells funny, it probably isn’t good anymore.

– When ordering cheese at the supermarket, ‘cuarta libra’ means four pounds of cheese, while ‘un cuarta’ means one quarter-pound of cheese. If anyone has tips on eating a pound and a half of cheese, please feel free to leave that in the comments or mail it to:

Shane Shake
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

– Two onions and two monster cloves of garlic is enough for a can of beans and a pound of pork cutlets. Barely.

– When peeling a carrot, once you are going to peel the the second half and grab the first half, it becomes slippery. For when you’re peeling over a trashcan (zafacón), please don’t let that affect your grip or it shall affect your chances of eating that carrot.

– Do not fry food shirtless, oil gets a little jumpy when it’s hot. Do everything else shirtless.

– Too much olive oil? Never heard of it.

– Black beans beat beets, by far. The question is, do bears beet black beans Battlestar Galactica?

Moving on, tips from Mr. Shake on how to cope with life’s little battles: Continue reading


No, I don't feel trapped or anything. I just like the picture.

While it’s been a relatively normal (and better than expected) adjustment period in life outside the United States, there has been a deluge of new ideas, actions, and people that I’ve encountered, causing me already to rethink the way I perceive normalcy. Continue reading

July -1st

Is it July negative first or is it July zeroth? It certainly isn’t June 30th. Either way, tomorrow is supposed to be the start of the two hottest months down here (weird, I thought it was going to be winter in this hemisphere), which is turning out to be complete mularky. I’m looking at the forecast right now, and it’s 90 today, going down to highs of 87-87-87-86-87 over the next five. Either global warming is a myth like non-assless chaps or seasons don’t act like clockwork just because a human-made calendar decides to change the name of a timeframe. I’m leaning towards the former, and buying a goose-down jacket. Off to things:

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DH Lawrence

From “New Mexico,” 1928

Superficially, the world has become small and known. Poor little globe of earth, the tourists trot round you as easily as they trot round the Bois or round Central Park. There is no mystery left, we’ve been there, we’ve seen it, we know all about it. We’ve done the globe, and the globe is done.

This is quite true, superficially. On the superficies, horizontally, we’ve been everywhere and done everything, we know all about it. Yet the more we know, superficially, the less we penetrate, vertically. It’s all very well skimming across the surface of the ocean and saying you know all about the sea. There still remain the terrifying under-deeps, of which we have utterly no experience.

The same is true of land travel. We skim along, we get there, we see it all, we’ve done it all. And as a rule, we never once go through the curious film which railroads, ships, motor-cars and hotels stretch over the surface of the whole earth. Peking is just the same as New York, with a few different things to look at: rather more Chinese about, etc. Poor creatures that we are, we crave for experience, yet we are like flies that crawl on the pure and transparent mucous paper in which the world like a bon-bon is wrapped so carefully that we can never get at it, though we see it there all the time as we move about it, apparently in contact, yet actually as far removed as if it were the moon.

As a matter of fact, our great-grandfathers, who never went anywhere, in actuality had more experience of the world than we have, who have seen everything. When they listened to a lecture with lantern-slides, they really held their breath before the unknown, as they sat in the village school-room. We, bowling along in a rickshaw in Ceylon, say to ourselves: “It’s very much what you’d expect.” We really know it all.

We are mistaken. The know-it-all state of mind is just the result of being outside the mucous-paper wrapping of civilization. Underneath is everything we don’t know and are afraid of knowing.

On Strays

Que triste

The subject of stray dogs came up this weekend as there was a pack of them hanging around the hostel in Cabarete, and I was thinking out loud that a humane solution would be to cull them. Stray dogs dominate the Dominican Republic, in barrios, cities, rural areas, and beaches. They spend their entire lives peddling for food, hunting through and eating trash on the side of the road, and drinking water out of stagnant pools of algae. They are generally ignored by the human population as they don’t seem to possess aggressive demeanors, and don’t strive for affection. Still, a large percentage of them must carry some sort of disease and since most of them don’t look old (not a professional dog-ager, however), I assume they don’t live for too long before finding a dark alley to pass away.

My case for culling is predicated on the complete absence of a spayed or neutered population, which means they must still promote species reproduction. It’s for the puppies, I say. I actually see far fewer puppies than I do juvenile or adult dogs, but many females have the traits of having multiple litters or are pregnant at the time. It’s not fun to see, really, and I would like to see the vicious cycle slow down a little bit. Also, Dominicans drive like crazy, so they live in constantly perilous conditions and probably suffer far slower and more painful ends than a quick (euthanasia) shot. Sickness, blunt force trauma, and generally poor living conditions seems like no way to live for future generations of street dogs. I was pretty much alone in my view, and from what I gathered it was for a couple reasons.

First, it’s not a very comfortable thing to think about willingly ending the lives of so many (or any) domesticated dogs, and I agree.  Through owning  a couple dogs growing up and seeing them both put down, it’s not fun at all. However, when we euthanised our Great Dane puppy at eight years old, she had gone through a couple hip surgeries, cried every time she had to get up to use the bathroom, and spent most of her days within a yard radius, I don’t think for once that we should have kept her in pain for the happiness of owning her for another day. That was two days before Christmas, and it sucked, but  sometimes the harder thing to do is the right one.

The second reason I gather is that we don’t know how bad their lives are, which is true. Although their lives are really rough, they do have a few things going for them. They live in a tropical environment and never need to search for warmth, generally have a lot of trash to look through, and are left alone for the most part by humans. Even through the hostel, these dogs are normal, they play with eachother and run around and spend most of their time resting. I’ve even come across colmados with dogs lying on the ground, so some are adopted strays – just “housing challenged”.

In the end, I don’t know. They always look to be in rough shape, but that’s coming from a perspective where my country’s population spends $50 billion annually on their pets. Also, they’re so darn cute.

I dedicate this post to our two canine family members, Risky and Galaxy, who never did learn to read.

More reading:

– Angel: A Happy, Healthy Stray

– Devil: Baghdad

Reading: Travesía, Melvin Mañon

Listening: Broken Boy Soldiers, The Raconteurs

Dominicanismo: Huevos revoltiaó – Scrambled eggs

Price Comparisons

I think my site is established enough to have features, right? I’m fielding advertising offers from Phillip Morris and Texaco (I’m not legally allowed to say how so exactly, but get ready for a return of Joe Camel in your local middle school locker rooms), so I can actually do whatever I want. Beware, if you are not already a registered subscriber to my site (I think look in the ‘About’ section) you may be hitting a pay wall soon. I hired Rupert Murdoch as my Chairman of the Board and official business consultant. My other board members include the entire band of My Morning Jacket, Gumby, Anne Hathaway as Catwoman in the upcoming Dark Knight Rises film (OMG so excited) , Lolit Homay, and Sue Bird. Title IX is obnoxious.

For this little guy, I’ll start with just a post. My comparisons for the United States are based off of Boston, which is notoriously expensive and dressed in dumb pink preppy clothing with whales. If you want to compare to, let’s say Wyoming, halve the price and double the racism.

Santo Domingo / United States

A night out : $15 maximum / $30 mininum

Lunch (5-star guy near work, Dom Franklin / Q’Dolocopotle): $3.00 / $8.00

Rent: $250-$300 / $600-$1400

Public transportation: $.60 / $1.75

Converse Chuck Taylors: $70 / $45

4-hour bus ride (S.D-Cabarete / Boston-NYC): $15 / $15

40oz. beer: $3.00 / $2.50

Bottle of Dasani: $1.25 / $1.75 (and a loss of your dignity due to it being a completely unnecessary expense)

20 minutes of airtime on a cell phone: $2.50 / Free.99

All-natural coconut water chopped out by a saint right in front of you: $.80 / N/A

Gas (by the gallon): $6.00 / $4.00 (stop complaining)

Hostel room: $15-20 / $45-80

Bag of pistachios: Way too expensive / ditto

Reading: Stranger in a Strange Land (I’ll be done tonight)

Listening: Live at Okonokos (9.30.2006), My Morning Jacket

Dominicanismo: Piña – The fruit (pineapple) or a mosh pit