First Impressions of the DR

Different country, different sights, different culture. First, the harbor where Villa is spending the season:

This view is from the abandoned yacht club, where the Luperon free yoga class happens M-W-F. The usual teacher left for July, so I’ve taken over teaching classes for the month. There’s a big enough community of cruisers here that there’s always something to do. And it’s not too expensive, so we got ourselves an apartment for while we’re here. This came “furnished”, so naturally we had some shopping to do. Preferred method of getting things around? The tuk-tuk.

Loads of plastic shelves on our laps in the back of a tuk-tuk.

Check out the roof construction. Things are done differently here, for sure. Of course, we look like amateurs using three wheels, where clearly two are plenty for much bigger loads:

Motorcycle with saddlebags overflowing with plantains.

There’s also a lot of agriculture here. It’s a bit more integrated than it is in the states: fields are scattered around cities, and there are frequently animals wandering the streets – and the beaches.

The cows are a major reason why it’s better not to drive at night. They don’t really understand roads, so they’ll stand right in the middle of them, and it can be hard to see a black cow coming in the dark on an unlit road. Cows don’t really follow the rules – but then, rules here seem to be more suggestions anyway. Certainly driving (we’ll post more about that), but just about any sign also comes with evidence of its own effectiveness.

Trash around a tree with a sign.
“Don’t throw your trash here”

The amount of litter is probably the most dispiriting thing. There’s a lot of natural beauty here, but for a lot of it, you have to look around a hundred discarded bottles. And probably it gets easier to look around it; certainly in San Francisco it got easier to look around the homelessness. This is maybe the only reasonable response in the face of such intractably large problems. You can’t fix it, so you have to stop seeing it to preserve some sanity. But it also feels like this adjustment is a defeat, a sacrifice of some of your goodness of heart to seek selfish comfort. (Are we worse people for having lived in San Francisco? Certainly we’re more jaded, more hard. Not the result you’d expect from living in the birthplace of the hippie movement.) I think the trick is to learn to shove the bother down, reduce its salience, but keep the ghost of the feeling alive. It’s not OK that there are people sleeping on the streets, and it’s not OK that there’s garbage all over the place and plastic in the oceans. And we can do what we can, and then learn not to beat ourselves up too much for not doing more.

Anyway. Captain loves being a land-lubber. The floor is tile, and a month in, he still doesn’t know how to run on it properly: he still tries to dig his claws like he’s on the carpeted boat, so his paws slip and he runs almost in place for the first few steps as he gets up to speed. He loves all the space, and the occasional impromptu hiding places, and of course all the new places to nap.

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