It was a girls trip. A much needed time for some girl talk, shopping, eating, laughing, and more talking. I had mentioned I really wanted to go to the Dominican for my birthday-I wasn’t too picky about the particulars, just wanting this birthday to me something fun and memorable.
And indeed it was.
We took the bus, from downtown Cap Haitian all the way into Santiago. Something that normally takes 5 hours took about 8.5. We may have hit some unexpected, eh, well, blockage, just before the border. There may have been some rock throwing and tire burning that prevented progress. And you know the three of us have been in Haiti long enough to where we were not only not at all worried about it, but rather we were annoyed at missing precious time in the Dominican Republic. We too sided with our fellow Haitian passengers that if we only had a Haitian driver-ours was Dominican- we would have plowed on through, or payed on through, and been in the “land of milk and honey” like four hours sooner!
But, we did make it. And we did stay at a super fun hotel, and we did in fact eat amazing things like salads, ice cream, nachos, tacos, McDonalds-which none of us normally like but it feels American to eat it! Side note: McDonalds in the states is frequented for its fast and cheap food, right? In the Dominican its actually expensive, and thus is a place that well to do people visit. Strange, huh?
We had fun shopping too, without our men rolling their eyes or telling us to hurry up. We spent almost three hours in a Target meets Walmart store, and simply enjoyed the process of looking at all the lovely items for sale. In addition, we got to meet up with three kids that have recently graduated and left the orphanage that both Jillian and Tabitha work at. It was pretty fun to see them-for me to meet them-but for the girls to check up on them, and find out how they are adjusting to life in another country. And it’s true, no matter what country you move to or from, culture shock happens. Watching them trying to order at TGI Fridays confirmed 1. the unnecessary and ridiculous amount of choice you can have at one restaurant for ordering (which us three Americans almost struggled as long as they simply because we are so unaccustomed to choices and variety at restaurants these days!) 2. That even though other food might be good, you almost always still love the food that you have grown up eating and are familiar with.
It was a very quick trip, but jammed packed with new and fun adventures along the way. This lasted up until the moment we left and finally arrived safely back at home. Let me give you the short version of our journey home. Which, if I can relate it to anything, I can say it felt like the movie, Homeward bound. I recently watched this movie with my nephews-our last visit to the states- and found as we hit obstacle after obstacle, we three were like those three pets who were determined to make it back.
It started with grocery shopping. Yes, we did like this supermarket sweep deal. We took our bags from the hotel, left them at the front counter at the grocery store, each grabbed a cart, and had just 45 minutes to fill it with all our favorite things we are missing. We split up, divide and conquer style, and enjoyed 45 minutes of feeling like we were in the states. We had choices. Options like a whole isle dedicated to cereal, and fresh deli’s, bakeries, meat section-we practically forget you can buy meat in nice clean packages! We met back up at the register, where we giggled as we compared the damage we did. But all laughing stopped when we looked at our very full three carts and our duffle bags, not knowing if it would all fit. It did.
Next was flagging down a taxi to load up our five-yes five for the three of us-extra large duffle bags full of food. I’m talking so heavy we could hardly lift with two of us. We proceed to talk, coax, and argue with the taxi driver to get all our bags in his beat up old Toyota car. We did it. Off we went to Caribe buses to get our tickets. We purchase our tickets-with only one ticket left since we took so long loading up all our crap. We managed to get all our bags on board-along with two smaller ones with us because they were our cold items-onto the bus. Only to find out, even though I asked three employees, it was the wrong bus. Off we went. We boarded the next, correct bus, and settled in glancing at each other wearily but happy since we were on our way.
About ten minutes into the ride, two Dominican women-one was standing-motioned to try and sit next to Jillian. Jillian said no, showed her the large duffle underneath her seat and the one next to her. The woman persisted and of course I couldn’t help myself and stepped in. In hand gestures, I managed to explain she was not going to move, there were about ten other vacant seats, and she can sit there. She persisted because her daughter was sitting right in front of her and they wanted to be close. I then again explained she could sit next to her and they both could move somewhere else. It didn’t work. So Jillian moved out to let her into the window seat. And wouldn’t you know it, she plopped down, and dug her heels right into our precious bag filled with all our frozen and cold food-stuff like boneless chicken, fruit, yogurt, cheese-and all three of us gasp. She looks at us, rolls her eyes, and presses her heel right back on it. What do I do? I turn into “Red Ross” . You know what I’m talking about, my fellow Friends lovers, where Ross is a nice guy but goes postal in some situations. I did that. I’m not proud. (well, maybe the time I went into Red Ross mode with my girlfriend in Italy, and caught a girl with her hand in my friends bag and stopped her from stealing more!!) I learned over and straight tapped/slapped her leg. She was stunned. She stopped, yelled at me that bag should be up top, I explained it was too big, and she instead kept scooting towards her seat. This time, she dug even herder into our bag, so what did I do? Slapped her-again! It was like a reflex. Mind you, this woman is like 60. Tabitha and Jillian are so upset too-pickuring their chicken punctured and juices flowing all over-and we all are at a climax. Jillain, poor thing, awardly slides back in next to her, as we all proceed to talk about what in the heck just happened. There were a few Haitians sitting right next to us, and before all this drama got started, we said hello and talked with them. So of course, they have much to say about what just happened, and us and our new Haitian friends, are cracking up about how she was screaming, and I was slapping, and even though I can’t get Spanish out of my mouth since learning Creole I can understand most of what she was saying how I was stupid, and ugly, and such. We all laughed so hard! Needless to say, Jillian then moved seats, and sat by one of our new friends.
After that, all was quiet until we stopped. And after we sat for about 15 minutes, watching the bus driver get off and on, we decided it was time to investigate when Dominican passengers were grabbing their stuff and leaving. An angel, in the form of a Haitian who also spoke Spanish, went and talked to the driver. He was our translator and explained to us, in Creole, the situation. Our axle came loose. A mechanic was on the way. Riiiiight. I have heard that before. With only 1.5 hours until the border closed, and thinking we were about an hour away, we decided we didn’t have time to wait. We managed-wtih the help of our Haitian angel, to get all five of our gigantic bags off the bus, and stood in the dirt. We flagged down a Dominican public bus type thing, and got mixed answers when we asked if all our stuff would fit. But seeing as how I wasn’t ready to sleep at the border, with all our spoiled food, I made an executive decision and we hastily boarded the already very crowded bus. And off we went. No problem. Jillian was forced to sit in a makeshift seat between the driver and passenger-that put here about two feet higher than everyone else-and that alone was enough to keep me laughing all the way to the border.
We arrived at the border town at 3:40. Twenty minutes till closing time. All our bags were off loaded and there we stood, confused. Of course we weren’t at Caribe bus station, and didn’t know how close we were to the gate. We were done-exhausted, not knowing how to get our bags from point a to b. And so, our Haitian angel,once again stepped in. He insisted we could use mottos, and so, we trusted him. I insisted all three of us girls and our 8 (we had three clothes bags) made it on two mottos. It was amazing. They did it. I mean, I should’ve have been surprised, I’ve seen mottos carry coffins and refrigerators before! But I was still amazed. It was a short ride, and by the time we got stamped out of the Domincan and back into Haiti we had 2 minutes to spare. We were a hot mess by then, and gratefully jumped in Jillian’s husbands truck as he whisked us away from the craziness and choaticness that was the last 7 hours.
Our food made it. We made it. Even though the journey home was, well, long, we had a great time. We bonded over all the typical things girls love, in addition to some more deepening adventure like bonding too!
But we made it, and our deep freezes are stocked. All is well with the world once again.