One of the things that I enjoy when I travel is meeting new people. Since circumstances were what they were this year, that opportunity didn’t present itself very much this time around. In fact the only new person I became acquainted with this year was Head Waters. Oh sure, I had contact with the local people who were waiting tables or running a register, but the only person I sat and broke bread with for the first time this trip was Head Waters. Head Waters is Stream’s father, hence the name (you figure it out), and he joined Rock and Stream on their 3-week trip to the Dominican Republic this year.
I know, I thought the same thing too!! 3 weeks with a parent!!! Are these two insane??!! Once I had moved away from home I never spent more than a week with either of mine!!! If I had, they’d have died sooner!!! I could not imagine spending three weeks in a foreign country with nothing to do but sit in the sun and talk to my father. The conversation would dry up in ten minutes! I’d have 20 days of uncomfortable silence to contend with!!! But that’s me, Rock and Stream are of a different make-up and to his credit Head Waters is nothing like my father.
Honey and I met Rock and Stream at the airport a week after we’d arrived. Honey had been experiencing anxiety that she might not recognize them; after all it had been two years since we had last seen them and that was also the only time we’d ever spent with them. Three years ago we were all strangers. Honey spotted Stream at about the same time Stream spotted Honey, both their arms shot up simultaneously and Honey left my side to greet her saying “No problem” to me as I laughed at her.
Standing to Stream’s right was a short older gentleman dressed in a baseball cap (Toronto Blue Jays) and a baseball jersey (same team). Stream is not tall but damn… her father was the size of a leprechaun!! “Hola welcome to the Dominican Republic” Honey and I greeted them all. Rock had arrived with the luggage a few moments before. We hugged, we shook and I met Head Waters for the first time standing just outside the doors of the airport under the canopy.
As he shook my hand, he looked at me and said, “Nice to meet you, can I smoke right here?” I looked at the seventy year-old man and had an instant realization that I already knew this guy; he was my Uncle Jeremiah in a different body; a little livelier because he hadn’t required sedation to fly, but the humorous twinkle in his eye and guilty smile as if he had just asked me where the ‘hookers’ were… I’m telling you… Uncle Jeremiah… Head Waters… same guy!!!
I smiled, laughed and offered him one of mine, “Absolutely. This is the Dominican Republic; would you like a beer for the drive to Caberete?” I saw a moment’s pause before he declined, saying he would wait until they got to the hotel. That would be the last time I would see Head Waters decline a Presidente beer. The guy was on a break-away and he was going to enjoy all of it.
Honey and I met them on the beach for dinner after they had checked in. Rock and Stream had changed; they had been on the road for more than a day but Head Waters had only been on the road for a few hours and since he already felt refreshed he had done nothing more than unbutton his baseball jersey. They joined us at our table and that was when I noticed Head Water’s tan. “I see you gave yourself a starter coat.” I joked to him. He smiled, gave me a once over and told me “you bet, I didn’t want to look liked I’d only been here a week.” Nice retort Head Waters, it’s something my Uncle Jeremiah might say.
Head Waters initial concern, apart from getting his first Presidente, was the costs associated with goods and the conversion rate of the Dominican peso (RDS) to the Canadian dollar (CDN). It’s not complicated but Head Waters wanted to be able to know what he was spending before he spent it. Hey I can appreciate wanting to know what you’re spending, I travel on a budget and if you don’t pay attention you can run yourself dry too early. Menu’s are in RDS and when they want $I50RDS for a beer you think twice. Head Waters was going to be here three weeks and he wanted to have a solid understanding of how far his CDN$ would get him. It’s something Uncle Jeremiah would do.
This conversation went on so long that when the server returned we hadn’t actually looked at the food choices, only the prices! We asked her to come back. “Oh when you do would you bring me another Presidente, por favor” Head Waters said smiling at the server. I looked and his bottle was empty. Before you say anything Uncle Jeremiah and I know you will, just substitute coffee for Presidente… Same guy!! Only difference is one of you lives at the end of the road and the other is on holidays!!!
The next time I saw Head Waters he was a dark mocha colour. It had been 24 hours!! I must have seriously misjudged how pre-tanned the guy was, it would take me a month to get that colour! We were once again on the beach in Caberete, talking life and all its dimensions. Head Waters, Rock and I talked sports and politics, not ours but that of our neighbours to the south in Trumpville. Head Waters gave me some of his history and told me some stories of other countries he had visited, his manner was easy going and like my Uncle Jeremiah, he just fit right in.
Head Waters was around during some of the siege and for its entire conclusion; for the most part he just took it all in while he sipped his Presidente. He offered his feelings on the matter but he knew he was just a spectator and seemed happy to be in that role. No stress in being a supportive bystander. Guess who else would have seen it that way??
On showdown Friday I went to pick up Rock, Stream and Head Waters at their hotel in Caberete. I parked in a back lane by the gate of their 3-story building. Rock and Stream had a room in the corner on the third floor; Head Waters had the room next door. I looked up as I exited the car at the very moment Head Waters walked out on his balcony, a green bottle in his hand and proceeded to step over the rail of his balcony, onto a ledge, then over the stone rail of Rock and Stream’s balcony. Are you crazy man??!! You’re seventy years old!!! And let’s not forget that the building is Dominican construction!!! Watching this from below looked far more dangerous than when I saw the path between the balconies up close but still? Now I must admit that comparing this to Uncle Jeremiah becomes a bit of a stretch but when Uncle Jeremiah travels he does like a short cut.
We had breakfast with Rock, Stream and Head Waters our last morning in the Dominican Republic on the beach in Caberete. It’s funny how I can’t really tell you what we talked about that morning, the conversation eludes me, but I can tell you that I was both happy and sad. Sad our time together was over but happy that I had been able to reconnect with Rock and Stream; it reminded me again why they are such special people and I believe our story together is not over. Happy to have spent time with Stream’s father and to identify some of the traits that father and daughter both share (she probably suggested the short cut), and to have him join us at our table. He fit in easily with our Playa Magante family, just like I bet Uncle Jeremiah would because they are both the type of men that are just good people to be around. The only real difference that I noticed that final morning was that Uncle Jeremiah would have ordered coffee with his eggs.