Adventures From My Chair

My visit to The Playa is winding down and I know I have not given much detail on any adventures that have taken place. When I use the word adventure it does not mean I have made some enormous trek into the jungles or down some winding river. Machete in hand, hacking my way through some over-grown path. An adventure to me are small moments that take place most times when I’m sitting on my butt. Conversations, funny moments with my friends and observations I make of those that pass me by. Calling these adventures makes them sound like they are more than they actually are, but that’s what I do, so live with it.

Honey and I both arrived on the island with colds. Not full-blown head full of snot colds, but sore throats and dry hack colds. Mine was on the down swing, but Honey’s was just ramping up. It has meant that she has struggled with respiratory problems pretty much her entire stay here. We did manage to share this ailment with The Earl, who like me beat it back rather quickly. My hope is I also gave it to the woman at the car rental counter but I will probably never know. It may sound malicious but here’s hoping.

The Earl was sporting a leg wound this year from a business trip to France. It took place late at night in his hotel room and the circumstances seem to be a bit in question. A wet tile floor is to blame according to his rendition and has nothing to do with the amount of alcohol that he had consumed during the night. According to Ginger’s eye roll, it may be the other way around.

Every day Ginger would take some of the dogs, and The Earl, for a short walk. She did this to make sure that The Earl’s ankle on his wounded leg would not swell to the size of a soccer ball. This happened to him after just two days of him refusing to go for his walk. He said that sitting with his leg raised was sufficient to keep the swelling at bay. I must warn Ginger if she keeps rolling her eyes like that, they could get permanently stuck that way.

A week after we arrived, Rock and Stream joined us at The Playa for what has now become a completely un-scheduled annual meeting of the Los Gringos Refugee Club. They had decided to go back to Cabarete this year. Like The Playa for me, Cabarete has become a magnet to them. There is lots of activity there and a night-life that The Playa lacks, and it suits their lifestyle far better. Honey and I are the opposite, we enjoy our time visiting Cabarete but prefer the quiet tranquility of The Playa. The Dominican Republic has something for every one.

The day included some very spirited conversation about the environment, a modified version of Trivial Pursuit, and enough alcohol consumption to qualify us all for the first available AA meeting. There was only one thing that went terribly wrong. No Stream, it was not the flowery language. It was that Rock sat at the edge of our cabana deck, his feet in the sand and I forgot to tell him to use insect repellent. This has been one of the worse years for insects at The Playa in recent memory, and based on the amount of bites I normally receive, they seem to have a real thing for Canadians. A few days after our meeting, the message I received from Rock informed me that his Benadryl supply was running dangerously low. Sorry amigo, my bad.

One night as Ginger and I sat in the main gazebo, having a drink and enjoying the sunset, there was a roar of an engine. It was louder than any motorcycle that most fisherman arrive on. Suddenly from the far side of the restaurant a bright red dune buggy came roaring onto The Playa. Yony and Sandy came rushing out of the restaurant and the driver seeing their none to pleasant expressions, gunned the engine and managed to miss the beach gazebos and the sun loungers and sped off east down the beach.

That was a mistake. There is no exit route that direction and for 20 minutes it was quiet as both Yony and Sandy, along with a handful of local fishermen, waited for the moron to return. Obviously, this was a tourist who had rented this shiny new beast of a vehicle, because no one local would have driven onto the restaurant grounds and then been stupid enough to go east. When he finally returned, he was not gunning the engine but puttering and was met by an angry crowd. After some maneuvering he was directed out of the area. I must say that even though the DR, like all the Caribbean islands, have a reputation for being unsafe, I have never witnessed more than a few instances of the locals trying to scam the tourists with cheap trinkets they say are made of precious stones. At no time have I ever felt threatened. If that idiot had done what he did on a North American beach, he would have been yanked from the vehicle and beaten within an inch of his life. None of the Dominicans had weapons, nor did they try to get any while they waited for Idiot’s return. The man was lucky he wasn’t on Miami Beach.

This year the great eel hunt has been taking place. Now some of this has been explained to me but seeing that I have a limited attention span, I will give you my understanding of the process through my observations. Every night the fisherman from the area arrive at The Playa. They are carting with them large nets that are in a rectangular frame. Unlike the 3 or 4 that would come down in evenings and get in a boat in past years, this is a crowd of anywhere between 12 and 20 fishermen. They split into two groups, each group heads to the two different rivers that empty into the ocean.

They wear lights attached to their heads and position themselves in the ocean near the mouth of the rivers. In the darkness they preform this unusual ballet of sweeping the nets in and out of the water attempting to trap the eels. In darkness, it looks like a long train of lights out into the shallows of the ocean, miners digging for some elusive gold vein. This is more truth than not.

The eels are like gold to these people because they have immense value on the eel market, they are worth $2000US per kilo. That’s enough money to feed a family for a year in this country, and makes the late-night effort worth every scoop. These eels are not the moray type, they are not long slithering snakes but small things the size of your pinky finger. They are translucent little creatures that have migrated across the ocean and are seeking fresh water in which to spawn in. The fishermen stay out from the mouth of the rivers because they don’t want to catch all of them. This would destroy future crops and therefore future fortunes. They seem to understand what needs to be done. The eel hunt is limited to only a few months every few years, but when it is on the locals go hard at it, and it has been interesting to watch.

So, this is what has been happening from where I sit. Adventures? Maybe not, but considering the alternative would be sitting staring at snowdrifts, it is plenty adventure to me.








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