I hope we haven’t kept you waiting too long! Names have been changed
Since Ayana was visiting for a short amount of time, Alex planned the first half of the week (DR part 1) as the “when in Rome. . .” portion. Ayana did her best to blend in: drinking El Presidente beers and Cuba Libres (rum and coke), sweetly turning down suitors, even giving the directions home to taxi drivers, “Necesitamos ir a la Zona Universitaria”! For the second half of the week, Alex planned a grand adventure in the mountains: white water rafting! We were both excited for the adventure, but little did we know just HOW MUCH adventure was awaiting us at every step of the way.
Let’s begin with the journey to Jarabacoa, DR. Alex had a special friend, Gilberto*, who was a total sweetheart, had a good job, and drove a decent car! Gilberto wanted to drive us the 2 hour distance to Jarabacoa but was unable to get off of work. He did not want us beautiful young ladies traveling alone on a bus (he obviously doesn’t know us…We will CUT you!), so he asked his good friend Javier* to drive us. We assumed Javier was of the same caliber as Gilberto: sweet, good job, decent car. . .(Remember that saying our moms told us so long ago: “ASSUME = ASS out of U and ME”? REMEMBER IT!).
As always, things started out well. The car was all the same color, all the doors and windows worked, and the AC was even on! Definitely an upgrade from the taxis. We had to make a quick stop at the bank, which wasn’t a problem according to Javier. Unfortunately for us, this was a problem as the car would not start when we tried to leave the bank. (#1) Javier assured us this was not a problem because he was a mechanic – clutch! As Javier worked a small miracle to get the car started again, Alex read Ayana’s mind (or her face) and calmed her worries with the umpteenth “Tranquila, Ayana! Relax!” We had one more pit stop at the gas station before we hit the road. We made it to the gas station by the Grace of God because the car cut off mid turn into the driveway (Red Flag #2). We roll on over to the pump and Javier gets out to pay. As he is walking back to the car, we assume he is coming to wait in the car while the worker pumps the gas (in DR, you don’t pump your own gas). Wrong. He opens the hatchback trunk and unscrews two PROPANE TANKS!!! (Red Flag #3 – and we have yet to begin the road trip) Alex and Ayana’s response: “What in sweet teenage Jesus’ name?!?!” We lock eyes and simultaneously realize we are in a jimmy rigged grill-on-wheels. We have no words. Javier gets back in the car as if this is as normal as a blue sky on a summer day. We quickly learned that this IS normal in DR, so we went with it.
Finally, we hit the road and were quickly calmed by the beautiful terrain of DR. Everything was so gorgeous and green. The music was blaring, the wind was in our hair, we were on our way! Throughout the ride, Javier made eyes at Ayana. He pulled over twice in her honor – to get snacks and to pick flowers from the side of the road for his “palomita”/”media naranja” (dove/soulmate). Other than the awkward romance that Ayana was trying to extinguish, the trip seemed to be back to normal. UNTIL we reach the halfway point. . .As we were cruising (or creeping rather) along the highway, Javier tells us he was so glad Gilberto asked him to drive us because it gave him a chance to drive his new car (Red Flags #4 and 5). He proudly exclaims that Gilberto sold him the car a couple days prior and, we quote, “Vamos a ver si llegamos!” [Dun Dun Dunnnnnnnnn!] Translation: “Let’s see if we make it!” Alex’s response: “SI?!?! IF?!?! AYE COÑO!!!!” Ayana’s response: “AYE DIABLO!!! That SI better mean YES! What the hell does he mean IF we make it?!?”
Javier doesn’t seem to notice our reaction as he is in his thoughts of making wedding plans with Ayana. Alex was evading eye contact with Ayana to refrain from inciting another panic attack. Eye contact was not necessary, as we both noticed that the car was moving 0.5 mph as we began climbing a hill. To make it worse, Javier’s foot was flat against the pedal as he was flooring it just to keep the car from rolling backward! After what seemed like decades, we made it to the top of the mountain without spontaneously combusting. We cheered as the road leveled out and our speed approached double digits again. However, our celebration was quickly interrupted by what seemed like a legion of speed bumps. We knew we were in trouble when Javier became quiet with concentration. As we approached the first hump in the road (note: these are REGULAR SIZED speed bumps), we all held our breath. As the front tires ascended and descended, it felt like we were climbing Mount Everest and then suddenly Mount Everest collapsed. As the front tires came crashing down to meet the pavement, the crash was heard around the world. “BOOM!! SCREEEEEEEEEEEECH!!” That was the sound of us moving forward because the BACK wheels still needed to make it over the bump. We could literally feel the speed bump under us like a surfer feels a wave under the surfboard. Alex’s response: “We’re stuck! This car is going to snap in half! Ayana’s going to roll back down the mountain! Jesus be a fence!” Ayana’s response: “Pleeeeease don’t let a spark light up these propane tanks!” With prayers going up and tears coming down, we tackled 3 more speed bumps. The rest of the journey to the hotel was tense for fear of any more obstacles. When the grill on wheels arrived at the hotel, it was nothing short of a miracle!
As we got out of the car and looked around Hotel Jimenoa, we had to catch our breath. We were literally in a secluded paradise: rich, green mountains on one side; gushing, fresh water river on the other. Our first stop: the BAR and the pool. We needed a few Cuba Libres and a nice soak to calm our nerves after that trip. Just as we begin to settle into paradise and think all the antics of the day are behind us, a gentleman comes over to make small talk with us Americanitas. He invites us to the hotel club to dance later that evening, which Ayana quickly accepted due to her newfound love of salsa. Alex, must have had too much Libre in her Cuba Libre because she told the gentleman that Ayana was a professional dancer back in the US. Delighted by this information, the gentleman asked what kind of dancer, to which Alex jokingly responded, “Exotica”. We both fell out laughing at the ridiculous idea UNTIL the gentleman responded, “YO TAMBIÉN!! (ME TOO!!)” All laughter immediately ceased as our brains began to work overtime for an escape. But an escape was blocked when the gentleman whipped out his blackberry, saying, “Do you want to see my video??” and proceeded to show us the tackiest YouTube strip tease. This bought us enough time to come up with an excuse to exit stage left immediately and run back to the safety of our room. We were NOT coming back out until it was time to get on the truck for white water rafting the next day.
That day had way too much going on. We wish we were that creative to make this up, but we’re not. All that really happened in the same 24 hours. WWe called on Jesus so much that day, we think he made a personal trip to Jarabacoa to see what all the fuss was about! We know this is a lot to absorb in one day, so we’ll end here to let it marinate! We promise to tell you about Jesus’ visit, our first motorcycle rides, and Johnny Bravo in our next post!! Until then, enjoy the pictures!
©2012 by Alexandria Dotson and Ayana Martin