Santo Domingo, Distrito Nacional, Dominican Republic at 9:41am AST.
And, quite possibly better than good Spanish.
Gabriel wanted to ride the new train in sto Dom. Since we didn't get to it last time, it was a priority. Today was perfect because Gabriel woke up with a sunburned face after 4 hrs of wave jumping at the beach yesterday.
We all brought Tia lucia to the olimpic pool for practice, and from there we walked to the metro station. Tickets are 20 pesos each way. I bought a metro card for myself and Gabriel. Norma had one with rides on it. I asked for 2 return tickets. I got 2 cards for 100 pesos. Hmmm, fuzzy math, but I'm used to that by now, so I pay and give one card to Gabriel. We scan our cards and go thru the turnstiles. I'm not paying attention, so we end up on the wrong side. Back upstairs and to the opposite platform. Of course the train comes as we're crossing. Run for it? Nope, 2 kids and Norma and sweltering heat = waiting for the next train. Finally, it comes.
Gabriel and I make note of the pantograph. Gabriel continues to study it, then boards as if he's been commuting on this line for 20 years. It's eerily quiet and clean for anything in sto dom. In fact, if I closed my eyes, I might even be in NYC during a heat wave. It's crowded but not full. Still there is a big commotion and a few people give up their seats for us. How considerate...oh wait, that's un regalo- no one holding a baby can stand. Fine, I sit. Gabriel struggles between sitting and standing. He finally decides standing and holding on like he's in a wind tunnel is the best option.
We get to the end of the line. I ask Norma if this is where we get off, but she motions to stay on. Strange, except that lots of people stay on. Better to see what happens next. We start drive backwards. Gabriel sounds an alarm- WE'RE DRIVING BACKWARDS! Yes, honey , it's ok. I watch the stations on the metro line map light up as we stop at each station we just passed. Finally Norma asks the person next to us something and motions that were getting off at the next stop. More talking, more confusion.
We go upstairs and cross to the opposite platform, again. The train comes and we ride to the end of the line, again. This time we get off.
We get outside and are in an area that is creepy quiet. People passing thru after work, but no one hanging out. The few cars on the wide streets are driving way too fast. A guy in military fatigues passes us with a big smile and says "Americanos!". An armed military guy with a huge smile....I take my sunglasses off. I tell Norma, we don't need to hang out here, we can just get back on the train. (obviously this is not the safest place in the city) Its ok, she promises, there's a French school around here. Ok, I follow on faith. After asking a few people, we find the school. No art exhibits, but a cafeteria.
There are fresh baked French goodies. I didn't bring much money, as advised, but since I bought my return tix, we could spend our remaining $ on treats. 2 jugos, 1coconut macaroon & a mystery pastry later, we were enjoying our snacks on the veranda next to the garden. The kids looked for lizards I enjoyed the snacks, lovely!
We walked back to a very busy metro. The ticket line snaked around until you couldn't see the end. Luckily, we already had our tickets. Norma went thru the turnstiles, but when Gabriel and I tried, no green light. Just a MSG that read invalido. We tried again and again-nothing. Finally the security intervened. Norma came back to help, but there was obviously a problem. I tried to explain on REALLY bad Spanish that I had bought a return ticket, but deep down, I knew that it had something to do with the amt I paid. They seemed to understand what I was saying, but they weren't letting me thru. I tried to explain it another way. Again they seemed to understand, but were looking at me with a simultaneously irritated and entertained look. Norma said we needed to buy another ticket. With what? I wondered. I looked back at the endless line. Nope, I thought, I'm just going to keep talking until they help me. Finally one of the hands me 10 pesos. I'm only short 5, so I try to give him 5 back. He refuses. Now I get it. I've "talked" my way out of this-meaning that my Spanish was so annoying, he was willing to pay me to go away!
Norma later explained that the cards cost 30 pesos each, so for 100 pesos I had only bought 2 one ways.
The good news is that next time well have our cards already!
Santo Domingo, Distrito Nacional, Dominican Republic at 6:43pm AST.
Started my Spanish class on Thursday. It is mostly grammar. I am the only American, everyone else is Haitian. I missed the first week or 2, so I jumped right in; volunteering to make a sentence with a preposition. Since the Haitians were putting on sweaters as I was melting away, drop by drop in the useless air conditioning, I thought I'd go for a little humor. I said "estoy muy caliente en este pais." meaning, I thought, "I am very hot in this country." apparently not, as my very serious and critical teacher's face softened with a smile and a look of disbelief. Still heinously ignorant, I asked through his eternal silence, "es correcte?" Finally his look of amazement vanished and he quickly replied, "Si, Laura, es correcte." with a final giggle and sigh. So, I later found out, in my first Spanish class I made a confidant announcement that, "In this country, I am very horny". Nice, very nice...
Tomorrow is class #2...
In The Home at 3:32pm AST in Santo Domingo, Distrito Nacional, Dominican Republic.