The clock ticks ever closer to my escape to the beaches of the Dominican Republic. This year will mark the third meeting of The Los Gringos Refugee Club and the first reunion of the victorious forces from The Siege at Los Gringos, as not only will Ginger and The Earl be there but Rock and Stream will also be joining us. There is a point in this overlap where we have five days where it will just be us on the Playa Magante, no other guests.
Am I excited? Ten minutes ago, I might have said “not really… no big deal…” but just writing the opening paragraph has got my juices flowing and to tell the truth, “I’m pumped!! I can hardly wait.” The Playa and these people in particular, represent a completely different life for me. A life that is so polar opposite from the one I normally live, that it is impossible for me to think of the place and the people and not get excited. Escaping sub-zero temperatures and replacing snow with sand doesn’t hurt either.
Sometimes you meet people and you immediately hit it off. You are kindred spirits and share a common link that many times you are not even aware of. It’s how you feel when you are with them, comfortable and at ease (even when you’re sober!). The same can be said about a location. You feel something different when you are there, a comfort and an ease. I get that when I am at The Playa and I am with these people. How can you not get excited??!!!
I consider myself fortunate to have stumbled upon The Playa a decade ago. I was enchanted then and couldn’t seem to shake the place after I left. Something that stayed with me, even the next year as I sat on the beach in Jamaica. The Playa, Los Gringos then, had gotten into my blood. Jamaica was great but it just didn’t feel the same. The next year Honey and I returned to The Playa, and have gone no other place since.
I know it is not just the secluded beach that draws me but the people that inhabit the area. Even though I can’t understand a word they are saying, I enjoy just being around them. They are part of the cast, players in the movie of my life, and will always mean something to me. Since my plan is to reside amongst them for a portion of my time left, I will continue to try my best to learn the language and maybe even learn to eat fish. Nothing in life comes without sacrifice.
When I look back on how this all came to pass; Me, Honey, The Playa, Rock, Stream, Ginger and The Earl, I can’t help but shake my head at the series of coincidences that lead me here. What happened, and all that has transpired to get me here are somewhat mind-blowing.
A random search for properties in the Dominican Republic led me to Los Gringos where I met Ginger and The Earl as well as Wendy and of course Patrick. At the same time, I started to write this blog (in its previous incarnation) because I had a son living in my basement with a website with no content. This blog led me to start writing about Los Gringos and the people I was meeting and the dogs I was walking the beach with. I continued to write about the place well after I had been there, I did not know then that I would ever return.
When I did return, there again were Ginger and The Earl. This may not seem odd to you since they do own the property but in truth, they only visit the place twice a year for just two weeks at a time. We were meeting again on my second visit! What are the odds?? We spent another two weeks together and our friendship matured. On our third scheduled visit, we were met with the news of the sudden death of Patrick. Even though, Los Gringos was no more, Ginger and The Earl reached out to Honey and I and invited us to stay at The Playa with them while they sorted out the mess this tragedy had left.
I felt devastated, sure that I was making my last trip to The Playa. We left The Playa the day that Ginger and The Earl returned to England and spent the remainder of our holiday in Cabarete. I wrote about what had happened and about what I had witnessed from my cabana deck. It was this blog that led Rock and Stream to me. Our adventures as The Los Gringos Refugee Club made a very sad time for me much better.
The connection I had developed with Rock and Stream and with Ginger and The Earl was something that I cannot explain. I had spent only 10 days with Rock and Stream and barely over a month with Ginger and The Earl (spread out over 5 years) but I had no second thoughts of bringing the six of us together and becoming a force to be reckoned with during The Siege at Los Gringos. Okay, truth is The Earl and his lawyer were the real force but this merry band was leading the charge against the evil Captain Ahole. When I next returned to The Playa a year later the faux pirate ship that blocked the view of the ocean and all the mannequin buccaneers were gone. The Playa had been created and things felt right in my world again.
This year when we all meet up, for what is only the second time as a group, it will be without the drama. There is no death or hostile take-over to deal with. Yes, there is the business now but it too has little drama involved with it. The time spent together will be about reminiscing and laughing over the mundane. Learning more about one another while sipping beverages in the shade. Our time together will pass at a Dominican pace, it will consist of being bored on the beach, being bored in the restaurant and being bored on the cabana deck. I can hardly wait!!