I did say that I wasn’t through with the travelling bear. Once again this is a work of fiction based very loosely on actual events. It is another long piece so pour yourself a coffee and enjoy. You won’t hear from me here for a few weeks as I prepare to head on vacation but don’t panic I’ll be back.
“He was a wedding gift to Dee Dee and Dsil from a friend of ours in Canada.” Ginger said holding me so I was face to face with Mrs. ‘Something or Other’. Truthfully I wasn’t paying much attention to the conversation until I was snatched from my perch on the top of the bookcase. The woman had showed up unannounced for tea just as Ginger and I were about to watch Coronation Street. Neither one of us was impressed, so I had just tuned out.
“Isn’t a child’s stuffed bear highly inappropriate for a wedding present?” Mrs. ‘I Don’t Approve’ said to Ginger.
“Well maybe… but,” I could see that her tone had had the same effect on Ginger as her unannounced visit. Oh you are so about to get it, Mrs. ‘I Show Up Without Warning’! The kettle whistle started to scream from the kitchen saving Mrs. ‘She Won’t Know What Hit Her’ the dressing down she was about to get from Ginger.
“Tea’s ready,” Ginger said with a pleasant smile. “Shall we?”
I watched them leave the room. I wish Ginger had left the television on so at least I could have watched my program. Oh well that is the life of a stuffie. I once again ignored the conversation and gazed out the window.
Gypsy was out “combining” in the field just beyond the gully and I watched as she drove around in a vehicle that was a hundred times bigger than she was. This was no naughty-mobile she was at the wheel of, it had a large spindle with blades in the front that turned when she drove forward and she had to climb a ladder just to get to the driver’s seat. As she drove over the field the blades cut the grain that was fed to the cows. That’s right… the Dairy Farm has cows!!! I love cows!!
Gypsy turned the combine as she reached the end of the field and started back the other direction starting a new cutting row. I could just make her out in the seat, she was wearing headphones over her ears and she was either singing or yelling at the machine. Gypsy did that a lot, both singing and yelling at the farm equipment.
I have learned a lot about farming since I arrived on the Dairy Farm. It hadn’t hurt that I had spent 18 months on a shelf in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada where almost everyone talks about farming, even the ones going on vacation. I knew a little bit before I had arrived in England but I had learned many useful things since I got here. Things like the most important tool a farmer owns is a good pair of rubber boots. I learned that from The Earl just today when he came storming into the house.
“Ginger! I have a leak!!” he had yelled from the doorway.
“What’s that dear?” Ginger had asked from another room.
“I said I have a leak,” The Earl repeated.
“Do I need to buy you adult diapers?” she said as she appeared before The Earl.
“Don’t be cheeky,” The Earl growled as he removed his boots and socks. “I need new rubber boots, this one has a leak.” He held up the boot for her to see.
“I don’t see a hole,” she said.
“Well there is one,” The Earl stated and then wrung out the sock he had removed so she could see the water that saturated it.
“I’ll pick up a new pair when we get back from vacation,” she said to The Earl. “You’ll have to wear your old ones until then; just don’t step in any water.”
The Earl stomped past me returning shortly carrying a pair of socks and different boots. He sat in the chair in front of me and started to put the socks on.
“They just don’t make things like they used to,” he grumbled. He held up the boot to show me what he meant. “They need to secure this toe cap better. They always let go and water will get in everywhere. You can’t work on a farm without a good pair of rubber boots; it’s a farmer’s most important tool.”
“Who are you talking too?” Ginger asked from the doorway.
The Earl looked up at her with a blush crossing his cheeks. “Thompson,” he told her.
“You know he’s a stuffed bear and can’t answer you,” she said to him with her patented Cheshire cat smile.
“I know but he’s the only one that will listen around here,” he said as he put on his boots, “and he doesn’t talk back, which makes him my favourite.”
The Earl left the room and Ginger gave me a wink before she turned to follow him to the door. The Earl was right; I was a very good listener and they all talked to me. But any time they were caught doing so by another member of the family, they were given a razzing by the other. So mostly they only talked to me when they were alone with me as to avoid the verbal backlash.
“I’ve almost finished the packing,” I heard Ginger say to The Earl. “Is there anything you need me to put in the bag before I close it up?”
“No,” The Earl replied, “everything I need was on the valise in the bedroom.”
“Alright,” Ginger said to The Earl as he left, “don’t be too late today. We need to leave before sun up to get to the airport on time.”
Ginger and The Earl were going on vacation the following day. They always seemed to be either going on vacation or planning to go on vacation. I wished I could go on vacation. Don’t get me wrong I was very happy living on the Dairy Farm and I had had such a great adventure going to an English wedding but I was from the Paddington Bear collection and by nature I did love adventure and vacation sounded like adventure.
Ginger had been buzzing around the house in the morning. Collecting everything she needed to pack for their departure early the next morning so she and I could watch ‘our show’. “Don’t fret Thompson,” she would say as she passed me on her way to collect something she needed to pack, “I’ll be done in time.”
I wasn’t worried. In my time on the Dairy Farm I had seen Ginger organize a wedding in her yard, entertain neighbours and friends, cook a feast for the village with the help of ‘the ladies’ of course, so there was no need for concern. Ginger knew how to get things done. That was until Mrs. ‘Unannounced’ showed up at the door. Now it would be weeks until I got to watch the show. Gypsy was unreliable and even if she did happen to turn the television on at the right time she would watch only a few seconds before saying “rubbish” and change the channel.
So two hours later after ‘our show’ is long over, Ginger is finally showing Mrs. ‘Can’t Take a Hint and Leave’ to the door. As they passed me the woman looked at me and shook her head.
“Odd,” she said.
“Well thanks for stopping by,” Ginger said as she opened the door for her guest to leave, “do stop in again.” She closed the door and leaned against it.
“What?!!” I thought at Ginger. “Are you daft?? Don’t invite Mrs. “She Ruined My Day” back! She’ll think you’re serious!! She’ll come back!!” Ginger started walking towards me, like she had just heard my thoughts.
“Don’t look at me like that,” she said as she took me down from my perch, “I know what you’re thinking.” Oh damn… I was only kidding about the daft thing! “At least she reminded me that I have one more thing to pack. I almost forgot you again.”
She took me into the bedroom where on the bed lay an open suitcase. She set me beside it and proceeded to move things inside. I had seen this before when the man in the suit had bought in the airport shop and needed to put me somewhere for the day. I knew what was coming next. Ginger picked me up and started to smoosh me into the case. This could only mean one thing!!!
“That’s right Thompson,” Ginger said to me as she closed the valise, “You’re going on vacation.”
I was back in steerage and thankful for my fur exterior, the belly of an airplane gets really cold at 30,000 ft. I didn’t really care though because I was going on a new adventure and lack of internal organs was the only thing keeping me from defecating all over The Earl’s clean clothes in excitement.
I had only been outside one time at the Dairy Farm since the wedding and that was the time the family dog had grabbed me off a chair and taken me out to the yard. He had dropped me and started to dig a hole and had Gypsy not spotted me I might well have been buried. Lost and forgotten like so many other stuffies that are still buried in the bottom of a box in the backroom of some store.
“Hey!” Gypsy had yelled when she spotted the burgling beagle. “What have you got there?”
The dog had stopped digging at the sound of Gypsy voice and had looked at her guiltily. That’s right! Bad puppy!! I thought at the dog as Gypsy had snatched me up and saved me from my impending doom. The dog just stood there wagging its tail and panting from its hole digging exertion. He had that look that all dogs have when they are caught doing no good. The one that says, “What did I do wrong? I was just digging a hole. I was going to fill it back in. It’s what we dogs do, how can you be mad at me? Look, I’m uber cute, and I’m loyal and faithful…”
“You leave poor Thompson be,” Gypsy had scolded the hound and then given him a scratch behind his ear. How do they get away with it??? Get me a newspaper, I will handle this myself!! But that was the end of my outside adventure as Gypsy had put me atop the bookcase out of the dog’s reach and I had remained there for the last few months.
Today though I was on a plane on my way to I don’t know where and I was the happiest inanimate object in the whole world. The trip took a very long time, easily as long as my trip from Canada to England but compared to the small coffin-sized box Associate Shane had put me in for that trip, Ginger had set me up quite nicely and everything around me smelled fresh and clean. I was travelling first class as far as I was concerned.
When we landed I was unloaded and sent up a belt where Ginger and The Earl waited for me. I could hear them talking but couldn’t make out what they were saying. During the trip one of The Earl’s shirts got wrapped around my head and had pulled my hat down over my ears, everything sounded like “mmmmmm, mmmm, mmmmm” and when I was finally set down and the shirt moved I could hear the words being spoken around me but couldn’t understand anything.
Oh no! I hope I haven’t been damaged in transit!! Why does everything sound so foreign?? That’s Ginger’s voice I’m hearing but the words are not making any sense. Oh wait, that’s The Earl’s voice and I can understand him.
“Ginger, tell him we have to stop at the market and pick up some Nationals.”
“Nostros paramos mercado” Ginger said, “Nationals.”
Oh No!! I’m not damaged… Ginger is!!! She was speaking in tongues! The only word that made any sense was Nationals! Maybe something happened on the flight. Maybe she bumped her head and has lost her ability to speak right. It was a bumpy flight. It’s why The Earls shirt got wrapped around my head.
“Si, No hay problema,” a man’s voice said to her.
“Gracias Ruedas,” Ginger said back.
I was really starting to worry. Why wasn’t The Earl doing something about this? Surely he can hear what’s going on, I’m just a stuffie and I can hear what’s going on!! It’s obvious man!! Your wife has hit her head and she has a broken tongue!!! Wait, maybe The Earl bumped his head too and he can’t tell that Ginger has a speech problem. I needed to get out of this bag!! I need to help them!!
“Dos cervazas por favor,” I heard Ginger say at the very moment that the bag I was in was picked up and put in the rear of a car. “Que te gustaria Ruedas?
“Agua por favor,” the man replied as he rearranged the bag I was in.
The down side to having stuffing for brains is that I need a little time to process things. The fact that the bag I was in was starting to become uncomfortably warm was not making it any of this easier. I knew one of the words that Ginger had said; I had heard it many times before from The Earl. “It’s time for a ‘cervaza’,” he would say and then would take a beer out of the refrigerator.
“I think ‘cervaza’ is the only Spanish word he knows,” Ginger had confided in me one day. Ginger had just said the word cervaza, this could only mean that Ginger was okay and the bump on the head had not broken her tongue it had merely made her speak in Spanish instead of English. Maybe another bump on the head would switch her back. The Earl would have to do that because I was far too short and at the present was locked in a sauna.
We started to drive and I could hear very little of what was being said. We stopped at one point so Ginger could go into a market and then drove some more. At the end the road was very bumpy and the bag I was in fell over and more of The Earl’s shirts fell on me. Oh gross… those aren’t his shirts, they’re his underwear. I hope this ride ends soon.
We finally stopped and the bag I was in was removed from the car. I could hear many voices all speaking Spanish and The Earl saying, “Ginger tell them…” The bag I was in was put into a room and it became very quiet for awhile. I was in darkness and had no idea where I was. I knew that wherever it was it was hot and that people, except The Earl, spoke Spanish.
“I need to change into something cooler,” I heard Ginger say as she entered the room. She grabbed the bag I was in and hefted it onto a bed then released the latch and opened the lid.
“Well hello Thompson,” she said to me. “I’m sorry I had forgotten you were in there. I bet you wouldn’t mind getting out from amidst The Earl’s unmentionables.” That was the understatement of the year. She took me out of the bag and set me on the bed. I was in a large room with a monster bed and wood floors. There was a large glass sliding door that took up one wall and I looked out and saw a sand beach and water. Big water that stretched all the way to the horizon, this place looked nothing like the Dairy Farm. I still did not know where I was but it was someplace new and I liked it!
“Welcome to the Dominican Republic Thompson,” Ginger said to me with a smile.
“Quien es este?” said the women, as she delivered a tray of drinks to the deck of the cabana that Ginger, The Earl and I were staying in. A cabana is just a fancy word for room with a view. I was sitting reading a magazine and had not noticed her approach.
“Wendy conoce a Thompson,” Ginger replied.
“Buenos dias Tonson,” Wendy said with a smile and a nod in my direction. She then proceeded to start talking to Ginger in Spanish. I might as well tell you now that I was going to spend my entire vacation not quite understanding what was being said around me, but ultimately it was not going to matter.
I sat reading my farming magazine. Yes there was no escaping farming even on vacation. “You can never know enough about farming,” The Earl had told me when he had given me my leisure reading on the cabana deck. That was probably true but I had been staring at the cover for more than an hour. I could use a little help here!! Remember stuffed toy! Arms don’t actually move!! Unless someone opens the damn thing up so I can read it, I’m not going to learn anything!
Wendy and Ginger talked away in Spanish with The Earl and me as spectators. The Earl did on occasion say things like, “Ginger tell Wendy…” or “Ginger, ask Wendy if…” But for the most part The Earl just sipped his ‘cervaza’ as we looked out onto the ocean.
I liked the beach and loved staring out onto the vastness of the ocean. Considering how many times I had crossed the ocean, and that I had crossed different oceans, I had never actually seen one. I can tell you one thing about oceans… They are pretty awesome! They’re immense and even if they appear flat they are always moving. Waves make the seas roll and whitecaps appear as those waves crest over unseen reefs and sandbars. You can stare at the same place for hours and it is always changing. I can’t say the same for the Dairy Farm where the land doesn’t change shape and the only action was when Gypsy was out riding around on the naughty-mobile.
I watched as the waves hit the shore, creeping up on the sand always in different patterns. I sat mesmerized until I noticed a cold wet feeling between my legs. Did I just defecate in front of Ginger, The Earl and Wendy??? This was so embarrassing!! I was afraid to look down. Wait a second… I don’t have a bladder; my Chinese makers had left out a lot of anatomical parts. I looked down…
“Oh hello Tricon,” Ginger said. The dog removed its head from between my legs. ‘Thank you, Ginger’. “Tricon this is Thompson.” The dog came forward and sniffed my face.
Are you serious dog?!!? Couldn’t you have started with the face?!!! Tricon moved back and stared at me. He was a little smaller than the hound that had tried to bury me back on the Dairy Farm with black and white fur. His tail wagged as he starred at me and I stared back, neither of us willing to break our gaze. The dog had picked the wrong bear to try to out-stare. This was a game I was very good at thanks to the Chinese… no eye lids. Tricon finally turned away and left the deck and went across to a nearby palm tree and started to dig a hole.
Oh, Oh! I guess the dog doesn’t like being out-starred. Hey guys are any of you seeing what the dog’s about to do?!!?
Tricon finished digging. He then walked around the hole he had dug a couple of times before he paused and looked at me.
GUYS!!! Need a little help here!!!
Tricon then went into the hole, lay down and closed his eyes.
Okay?? What was that about? Was it some kind of ‘horse head in the bed’ message? Was the dog trying to show me that if he could fit in the hole, then I would disappear in it! Maybe I was being paranoid but with my canine history, I was a little worried. I knew he wasn’t about to do it with all these witnesses, so for now he would just rest in the hole he dug for me and wait. You can’t fool me dog!!! I’ll be watching you!!! I mentally gave him the forked eye sign, best I could do… no fingers.
It wasn’t long until a second dog came along. Tricon was big enough, but this one was a horse! He was older and his fur was grey around his face, he was lean and really tall. He came up to Ginger barely giving me a glance.
“Hello Capatan,” she said as she gave the dog a scratch behind the ear. The dog accepted her affection with a wag of his tail, then left without looking at me again and went out towards the water. Capatan was not going to be a problem; my concern was the one sleeping in the hole.
I looked his way and was greeted by the site of another dog. What is this place?? A kennel!! This one was smaller than me and I knew it be something people called a cha-wha-wha. She was the size of a large rat with matchstick legs and a tiny head and bulging eyes, she moved around like a spinning top full of energy. She came up to everyone on the deck including me but was only able to get her head up as high as the seat where I sat by standing on two legs. She darted off to where Tricon lay, climbed on his back and proceeded to do push-ups. It was all rather disturbing.
“Adios Tonson,” Wendy said as she rose and left the deck. I liked Wendy, even though she mispronounced my name, she had a warming smile. The rat dog jumped off of Tricon and darted after her. That was one strange animal. I turned my attention back to the ocean and soon I was mesmerized once again. I was sure enjoying my Dominican beach vacation.
I spent the next few days either lounging on the beach or on the cabana deck. It was very hot compared to England and it was always important to stay hydrated. The Earl started his day with tea followed by coffee, then breakfast and juice and coffee, then beer, then lunch and beer, then another beer, then tea and to end the day coffee and a beer. Ginger for the most part stayed hydrated with coffee and gin. This may seem like a lot of liquid but in the heat as Ginger told me, “You just sweat it out right away anyway,” so you needed a lot.
One day I was sitting under a palm enjoying a ‘Presidente’, the official beer of the Dominican Republic. That may not be true but it’s what The Earl refers to it as, so who am I to argue. It doesn’t really matter because nothing is better than a cold beer on a hot day and every day is hot in the Dominican Republic. I was minding my own business when I heard a scratching sound behind me and felt a poke in my back.
“Hey!” I shouted. “What’s this about!”
The poke didn’t hurt, but it scared the stuffing out of me. The bird walked around me a stared first at me then at my beer.
“Don’t even consider it!” I said to the chicken that was starting to lean toward my beverage. It stopped and looked at me tilting it’s head to one side as if it had heard what I had said. Then deciding that I could do it no harm put its beak in the top of my bottle. “Oh gross!! There better not be any back wash!!”
“E can’t understand you, E only speak Espanol.”
Startled I looked up to see the old grey haired dog, Capatan, standing before me.
“You can talk?” I asked him
“Vamos,” he growled at the chicken and the bird scurried away. “Si, we can all speak at eeach other, but ees only I can speak Anglais.”
“You’re Ang lays? Oh you mean English.” I said getting my head stuffing up to speed. “Your ang lays is very good.”
“Gracias” Capatan said to me. “ I have been around a very long time and Geeenger speaks to me very much in Eeengleesh. So I must learn or I don’t get koookees from her.”
“Si, she call them Deeenoos,” he replied to help me understand. “Geeenger brings them whenever she comes to zee playa.”
“What is the playa,” I asked.
“Eet means beeeach en Eespanol,” he replied
“I like the playa,” I said to him. Capatan and I talked for awhile longer. He told me about the playa and how the restaurant had used to be called Los Gringos and that for a while it had had a bunch of store mannequins dressed up as pirates and a big wall that looked like an old ship.
“Eeet wuz very cheeezy,” Capatan had said. The ship had blocked the view of the ocean from the parking lot and the mannequins had scared the children. He made it sound rather dreadful. Now the place was known as the Playa Paraiso en Magante and was being run by Wendy and Capatan said it was much better now, “more like Los Greeengooos.”
With the help of my new friend I retrieved my sunglasses and we went down to the beach and spent the rest of the day lying on a beach lounger watching the waves lap the shore. Once a local fisherman walked by and Capatan jumped up and barked at him until he had passed our property line, then returned to his lounger. I had seen both him and Tricon do this before.
“Why did you do that?” I asked him
“Eees what I do,” he simply replied.
It was late afternoon before I was discovered by Ginger.
“There you are,” she said picking me up, “I thought we had lost you. How in the world did you get down here?”
Capatan and I just looked at her like she was speaking a foreign language.
Never having been on a vacation before I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I do remember hearing people at the Regina airport talking about going to different places. The most popular was a place called Vegas. The people go there to gamble and drink. Then the next most popular was Mexico, where the people went to sit in the sun and drink. People also went to places like France to see the sites and drink wine and Germany to go to night clubs and drink beer. Some people were flying to northern Saskatchewan where all they could do was drink. Almost all of them talked about drinking while they were on vacation, even that big group of senior people that were going to the Vatican in Italy to visit the Pope talked about drinking something one of them called “sacramental” wine. So I guess I did expect that there would be drinking.
One day Ginger grabbed me from my very comfortable spot in the deck hammock and said to me, “Let’s go to the bar Thompson and see what Wendy is up to.”
She scooped me up and walked the twenty steps to the bar at the Playa Paraiso en Magante, slid in the booth that was by the entrance. Ginger and the Earl called this the ‘war table’. I heard them talking about it being called that by Associate Shane and Honey and the time they had fought over it with a pirate named Ahole.
“Hola Tonson,” Wendy said to me from behind the bar. “Es la cervasa?” Ginger laughed.
“No,” she said with a laugh, “Es para The Earl.” She paused a moment then laughed again. “Dos cervasa Wendy. No point in you being left out,” she said to me.
The truth is that I had been holding a beer at one point every day since we had arrived at the playa. I don’t think anyone had even noticed. It takes me a long time to finish a beer because it has to be absorbed through my fur. The Chinese never gave me a mouth when they made me, just a goofy smile.
I sat enjoying my beer as Ginger, Wendy and Nero, one of the ladies that worked at the restaurant, chatted away to each other in Spanish. At one point Capatan and Tricon came in and mingled about. Capatan came over to me and gave my beer a nudge so it spilled on me.
“Thanks,” I said to him quietly, “If they would put it in a glass I could just stick my paw in it. It would be easier than waiting for the bottle to sweat the beer out.”
“Si,” Capatan laughed and went and settled himself by the bar. Tricon continued to eye me. The dog made me nervous, not as nervous as the chicken or the little rat-dog that liked to hump just about anything, but I was sure Tricon meant to bury me. Capatan had explained that he digs a hole to lie in because the sand is cooler the deeper you dig and easier to lie in. Okay that made sense but I still kept an eye on Tricon when he was around.
Later The Earl joined us and we started enjoying different drinks, most made with rum. I’m okay with rum but I try to stay away from too much of it, it makes my stuffing vibrate. I posed for some pictures on the bar with Wendy and Nero. Ginger said she was going to send them to Associate Shane to show him how I was doing.
I liked Associate Shane and Honey too. They were the reason I was on a Caribbean holiday and had gone to an English wedding. My life had been great since he smooshed me in a box and sent me overseas from Canada, I was happy to pose so he knew I was fine and doing well. After all, I had sent all the wedding pictures to the airport gift store instead of to him so I could rub it in the faces of the stuffies that had told me I was headed for the bottom of a toy box. It was the least I could do.
Ginger and The Earl had their dinner and enjoyed coffee and another cervasa or two of course before we left the restaurant.
“Buenos noches Tonson,” Nero and Wendy had said to me as we left.
Rather then return to the cabana on the beach, the three of us went to the apartment that was at the rear of the parking lot.
“We’re trying some new accommodations,” Ginger said to me.
“I need the key,” The Earl said to Ginger.
“It’s in your pocket,” she replied.
“Oh, right you are.” He took out the key and opened the door for Ginger and I to enter than closed the door and followed us up the stairs to the apartment above. I didn’t see the key in his hand but had no way to tell him he had left it in the door lock.
The first thing I noticed when we entered the apartment was how cool it was. This place has air-conditioning!!! I could feel my fur stat to dry up immediately!! What took us so long to come here?? I was placed on a couch to enjoy the cool air while Ginger and The Earl went out on the balcony to enjoy a late evening drink. They closed the door to keep the cool air in. This place was perfect!!
I was just starting to doze off when I heard a commotion at the balcony door. There was rattling and and banging and I could hear the curses coming from both Ginger and The Earl.
“Thompson,” I heard Ginger shout out to me, “don’t just sit there, come and unlock the damn door.” She and The Earl started to laugh. Even I saw the humour in their predicament. They had come to the apartment for the air-conditioning and they were trapped on the wrong side of the door with no way out and they say us stuffies are stupid. They shouted out for the night watchmen over at the restaurant but he didn’t seem to hear them.
“Well,” The Earl said, “what shall we do next.” He handed Ginger her drink and took a swallow of his beer.
“Maybe Shane is awake and I can get him to call Wendy to send help,” she said.
“Because my phone is on the table beside the damn bear,” she said angrily.
Hey! Hey!! Hey!!! Leave the ‘damn’ bear out of it! I’m not the fool that locked myself out on a balcony!!
“Well try something,” I heard The Earl say quietly.
“I am,” she replied. A moment later. “He’s there, he’ll get a hold of Wendy and get her to send help. We’ll just have to sit tight and wait.”
Over the next hour there was lots of shouting by Ginger to someone down below in Spanish. She would occasionally translate to The Earl in English what was going on.
“He wants to know where the key is,” she said to him.
“ Well it’s in the apartment I imagine, The Earl replied.
“Oh he says it is okay, it is hanging in the door lock,” she said to The Earl. Oh I know that tone, The Earl’s in for it now. “Que?” Ginger said to the guard below. “He says that he can’t get the door to unlock and doesn’t want to break the key. I think he’s going to look for a ladder.
“Contact Shane again,” The Earl said to her.
“Alright but he keeps making fun of us,” she said, “this is so humiliating. He’ll never let us forget we did this.”
“It’s not our fault,” The Earl said. “Who puts an automatic door lock on a balcony door.”
“Dominican’s I guess,” Ginger laughed.
“Oh look Shane wants to know if he should call Dominican Fire and Rescue and tell them there are two gringos trapped on a second floor balcony. He says they could bring a big net for us to jump into! See I told you it will go on for years!”
I heard the door open below and quiet foot steps come up the stairs. The man came up the stairs quietly and walked towards the balcony door. He turned to me and put a finger to his lips. He then yanked open the door startling both Ginger and The Earl so much so that one of them squealed like a little girl. I’m not saying which one, I wouldn’t want to embarrass him.
“Hola,” Yony, Wendy’s husband said to the two trapped gringos.
“Oh thank goodness,” Ginger said, “gracias Yony.”
“Yes thanks Yony,” The Earl said as he rose and bolted through the door. “I need the loo,” he said, “I thought I was going to have to pee over the ledge.”
Yes thank you very much Yony, that would been a sight that would have been permanently burned into my stuffing brain.
The last few days I was on vacation I spent in the apartment. It was cool most of the time except when either Ginger or The Earl were out on the balcony, then the door was open and the warm Caribbean air came inside. On occasion Ginger took me out on the balcony and I could watch the ocean over the palm trees.
“It’s quite lovely,” Ginger would say to me. It most certainly was.
Near the end of our stay at the Playa Paraiso en Magante Ginger picked me up and gave me a look over.
“Well this certainly won’t do,” she finally said. “We can’t have you going out looking like that.”
I’m going out? Going out where? Ginger didn’t answer me but started to rummage around the apartment. Whatever it was she was looking for she must have found, I could tell this when I heard her exclaim “Aha!” That was followed by more rummaging and an “Eureka!” What was this woman doing?? She came back into sight carrying an old T-shirt and a pair of scissors. Hey I already apologized for the ‘daft’ comment!!
Ginger cut the shirt into a strip. She then picked me up, there was twisting and turning and some upside-downing. She wrapped and tucked what remained of the shirt around me then held me up for inspection.
Alright back up the bus! Pizza and Tequila Night?? Budgie what??? I looked at my reflection in the balcony doors. Is that a diaper?!!? What have you done to me Ginger?? You do know that the Chinese didn’t give me anything down there that can do damage! I don’t need a diaper!!! You really are daft!!!
“It’s not a diaper,” she said to me. Oh damn, how does she do that?!!! “It’s the swimwear that European men wear to keep their ‘budgies’ covered. Come on let’s show Wendy.” She started for the stairs with me under her arm.
Please Ginger don’t do this… Don’t take me out in public like this… I’m really, really sorry about the daft thing… I’ll be a good bear, I promise… I DON’T HAVE ANY BUDGIES TO SMUGGLE!!! Nothing I thought at her made her stop. She went down the stairs and out the door.
Half way to the restaurant we encountered Tricon. Just my luck the one that doesn’t speak English. He looked at me as he took up stride beside Ginger. I didn’t need a translator to hear him laugh.
“Amigo,” I said to him testing out my vacation Spanish, “assist-ian-ceo? helpo?” He looked up at me. “Can you get these ‘budgie-smugglers off of me?”
“Que?” he said. “Bugggeee?”
“Baud gees” he panted back.
“No Amigo, Bud-gee!! The damn diaper!!!”
There was no hope. It would be easier to order a beer from him. Tricon ran ahead and into the restaurant.
“Hola los osos usando un panal” I heard him say. I have no idea what it meant but I heard Rat-Dog’s high-pitched cackle.
“Hola Tonson,” Wendy said turning to look at me. “Que?” she said then started to laugh. I could hear the others laugh and Rat-Dog’s cackle filled my ears. I was so humiliated. How could you do this to me Ginger?? If I could blush I would have but all I could was sit there and listen while the other’s laughed.
“Usando un panal, hee hee heee, panal, panal, panal,” Rat-Dog chanted as she ran to the nearest table leg a did her hump thing. That dog had some serious issues.
“… es budgie-smugglers,” Ginger was saying to Wendy and the others. They all seemed to be enjoying the laugh at my expense. They were all having a drink, including Wendy. The restaurant was closed for the night. “Too Pizza and Tequila night,” she said to the others raising her glass. The others raised their drinks to her and said “Salut!” There were many smiles.
Ruedas arrived a short while later along with another car. Everyone started to get ready to leave. I had been moved to the war table bench and was forgotten as they all made their way out of the restaurant. Capatan approached me quickly.
“Sorree,” he said to me, “eye not help when dee peeeple were ear.” He then grabbed me by the budgie-smugglers and gave me a violent shake. The diaper came off and I flew over the bench and out of the restaurant and onto the sand beyond.
“Eye weeel berry dees,” I heard Capatan say from inside the restaurant, at the same moment I heard Ginger call out, “un momento Ruedas.” She came running to where I lay.
“I almost forgot you,” she said picking me up. “How did you get out here? Where are your budgie-smugglers?” She started to inspect the area. Oh damn I was hoping she wouldn’t notice. Just then The Earl came to my rescue.
“Ginger! Let’s go!” he yelled from the parking area.
“Oh well,” she said heading towards the lot, “I guess you’ve been exposed this long and no one has been arrested for indecency so far.” She was laughing to herself as we piled into Ruedas’s cab and left the playa.
Pizza and Tequila night turns out to be a semi-annual event at Playa Paraiso en Magante. The Earl and Ginger take the staff and their families to a place called Rio San Juan, a small town near a big beach called Playa Grande. It has lots of little restaurants and bars that surround a large pond called Laguna Gri Gri. It was all very pretty.
Ruedas and the other cab parked and we all piled out and started to walk along the street. We stopped at a small bar where we had our first tequila. My paw was set directly on a shot glass for a picture and I had my first ever taste of tequila. My stuffing brain took to the liquor immediately, it gave me an immediate kick in the brain. I was going to like Pizza and Tequila night!
We finished the first drink and made our way down the street to the pizzeria. There was much laughter as tables were placed together in the restaurant and we all took seats around it. There were fourteen in our group including Ruedas and the other taxi driver. They weren’t drinking tequila but they were certainly going to eat pizza. Beer, pizza and tequila were ordered and it wasn’t long before the table was covered with plates and bottles and shot glasses.
I was passed along the table where I continued to come in contact with bottles and glasses. I can adsorb things anywhere on my body, it’s the upside to being a stuffie, I can drink through osmosis! It wasn’t long before the only way for me to sit up straight was to be supported by beer bottles and shot glasses!! Pizza and Tequila night was going to be even better than the English wedding party!!
“Shall we go get ice-cream?” Ginger said to The Earl.
“Certainly,” he replied and emptied the last of his Presidente, “I’m ready for another Ice Cream.” My brain was very fuzzy at this point but I remember thinking that The Earl may have had too many tequila’s because he thought he had been eating ice cream. It turns out that ice cream is code for more tequila and Presidente’s!!!
It gets really fuzzy from this point forward. I have vague recollections of sitting on Wendy’s lap and drinking shots of tequila and I may have washed my face with some kind of citrus fruit. I think there was singing and I vaguely remember that I spent some time in the bathroom keeping someone company as the prayed to the toilet “Oh God! Oh God!”, it might have been Ginger but I can’t say for certain. I either danced with someone or I spent some time in one of the rocking boats in Lugana Gri-Gri, wait maybe I was the one praying to the toilet bowl.
I woke up the next day with no idea where I was. I could see sand below me and the sky under my feet. My head spun and my entire body felt fuzzy and I think that someone kicked me square in the budgies! My eyes slowly focused and I could see words below me, the letters were upside down and the words were in Spanish which did nothing to help me focus. It did seem familiar though and that was helping to alleviate the sudden panic I was feeling.
“There you are,” Ginger said as she snatched me from my perch. With my head in the right position the world came into the appropriate perspective and I could see I was back at the Playa Paraiso en Magante. She took me into the restaurant and sat me at the war table and greeted the others that were there.
They all looked like I felt, a little green around the edges. Ginger went to each one of them and gave them a pill to take. It must have been magic because within a short time they all seemed to perk up and behave as if none of them had felt like I was still feeling. Hey I could use one of those pills!! Oh right… Damn Chinese… no mouth.
“You doon look so good,” Capatan whispered to me as he sat beside the table, “maybee a leetle seeek.” He snickered.
“How did I get here?” I said to my friend. “Or better yet when did I get here?”
“You came back the same way you left,” he responded. “weeth Ruedas. Eeat was very late when you reeturn.”
“You were dancing weedth The Earl and eee let go of you. You flew eento the dark. Nobodee could find you.” Capatan told me.
I moaned. A short while later Ginger returned to the cabana. The Earl sat on the deck sipping his coffee. Ginger gave him one of the magic pills.
“For all that ails you,” she said. She smiled at him and took me into the cabana. “I think you’ve had enough adventure for one bear. You can hang out here for today.”
She was right. I was wasted, fried, bereft of all desire to do anything at that moment but be a stuffie on a shelf. I was adventured out.
Ginger started packing the next morning. It was time to leave and return to the Dairy Farm which meant that I was going back in a box. I was feeling more myself today which was a good thing because the clothes being packed had not been washed as they were when I flew here with them. The clean fresh scent was gone.
“Can’t forget you,” Ginger said as she took me down from my perch. “You’ll fit quite nicely in The Earl’s bag.”
“Oh come on! Don’t put me in there!! Those are his used ‘budgie-smugglers’!!!” I pleaded to her to no avail. She smooshed me down and closed the lid. Then the bag was put out on the cabana deck in the heat. I can tell you that certain odours take on a whole new stink as they cook.
There was knocking on the bag I was in. What? It continued in a rapid rhythm and then I heard her high-pitched cackle. Oh great, Rat-Dog was humping my suitcase. That dog is not right in the head.
“Vamos,” I heard Capatan growl and Rat-Dog scampered away with a “heeheehee”.
“Adios Amigo,” Capatan said to me.
“Adios Capatan,” I replied from inside the bag. “It was good to make your acquaintance and tell Tricon I said good-bye and thanks for not burying me.”
“Si,” he laughed, “Eye weeel.” He left the cabana deck and it wasn’t much longer before I heard Ginger and The Earl saying their farewells to Wendy and the rest. I heard Ruedas arrive and my bag was placed in to the rear of his vehicle, his air-conditioned vehicle! Thank you stuffie gods!!
At the airport I was placed in the hold of the plane, and I flew back across the ocean, to the Dairy Farm. My beach vacation was over and I was placed back on the bookcase facing the television.
I have been a very lucky stuffed bear. Now a days most stuffies spend their entire existence on store shelves or in the bottom of storage or toy boxes. They get slobbered on by infants, then are tossed aside at the back of some closet as the child grows. The fortunate ones get handed down or sold in a rummage sale where they can be loved again, the rest eventually find their way to the land-fill. Some become bitter like Harry the Hippo in Regina and some just go with the flow like Ralph the Giraffe, who I last saw being taken off by the Dairy Farm’s dog.
Since I came into existence I have travelled from China, across Canada to England and I have gone from England to the Dominican Republic and back. I have been to a wedding and been on vacation. I’ve spent time in an airport, an office and the homes of two families. I have travelled in boats, cars and planes and yes I have had to endure an inordinate amount of ‘smooshing’, but I have been one of the very few stuffies that have had a life filled with adventure.
I have learned about different cultures, how they are different and how they are the same. I’ve learned that it is okay to drive a farm tractor and still wear a dress and that tequila is the devils water. Yes indeed, I have been a very fortunate stuffie. Are my adventure’s over? I can’t say for sure but Christmas is coming and the turkey in the yard is starting to look a little nervous every time The Earl goes out to cut wood. I guess I should be nervous as well because Ginger keeps mentioning that she needs to pick up “more stuffing for the bird”…
Oh I almost forgot, the most important thing I learned on my vacation was that I can talk to dogs. I don’t think the Dairy Farm dog knows this… it aught to come as quite the shock to him… It will scare the crap right out of him… It’s time I found out what he’s done with Ralph…