Monday, December 30, 2013

Punta Cana to Ponce, Puerto Rico

Christmas day in Punta Cana

The loom of Mayagüez in the distance is enough. A fine mist of stars falling silently across the southern Caribbean.
The half moon materializes frighteningly, like an alien spaceship suspended not three feet above the horizon. The control room lit up, the pilot somewhere in the orange glow, unimaginable. Poised for liftoff--rising gently, inscrutable, lost to us.
     An hour after dawn, the edge of the island, jagged hills, too steep to imagine climbing, pummeled cliffs. The mesmerizing luck of arrival.
To the mall

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Punta Cana

Samaná to Punta Cana

We're now in a marina in Punta Cana, probably til Christmas eve--the island has a strong grip, maybe recognizing our ambivalence at leaving. This place is determined to change us--has changed us, recognizes that we have been changed by it. The experience makes me think again of the myth of Persephone--once she had eaten the pomegranate seeds of the underworld, she was bound to that place always. This is like a sunlit underworld in some ways, never quite free, I think, of the history, of the metaphysics, if that's the right word, imposed by Columbus. I have come to feel haunted by a shadow-like Columbus, always at the edges of vision. The shades of the Taíno--and the bitter blood, the fierce vitality, of the slave revolutionaries. I have a Haitian vèvè of the crossroads, bought at Jazzfest years ago, hanging in a place of honor. Legba must be acknowledged properly--I think he is watching over us, I think he is laughing to himself a little, at what we are learning--at what we still have to learn.

Samaná to Punta Cana: First loose tooth

Tallulah is thrilled by her first loose tooth--she's never quite believed in Santa Claus, but the tooth fairy seems mysteriously real after leaving a quarter under her pillow.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Watching the grandma with her fanny pack hacking the bones from the meat with a machete like a scimitar, it seems clear that she is one of those who have accepted the role of attending death. She goes about it matter of factly. She cuts a chicken in half, its legs splayed. A man comes in, dressed in pale camouflage—gray and white, that would blend in with a pebbled beach—he sits on a stool behind her and drinks white rum out of the bottle. Like spirits accepting their due—the drops of white rum, the money accepted with bloodstained hands. I wonder why I never noticed before that the world of spirits was so immediate—so material. They are made of flesh and blood themselves. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Los Haitises national park

Old-growth mangroves
Impersonating the lady baboon who had a pet kitten
In the current--leaving the Cueva de la Linea, covered with Taíno petroglyphs. The Taíno were maybe not ready for us to leave this island. Seemed like they called us back, untenderly, seemed like they stopped us with a slap, like a fierce Zen teacher, stalking enlightened behind us. 
The park was spooky in the dusk, dark caves and oddly friendly officials who asked us if we had any rum or rice, cooked--cocinao--to give them, and when Adam said, "No, estamos muertos," they said, "Well, do you want some?" Back across the bay in the dark, climbing the steep waves.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Luperón to Samaná

Hand steering, exhausted with rainbow. Twenty-four hours after leaving Luperón with no autopilot. Goodbyes said via facebook, last pesos given to the motorcycle driver who brought me to the dock with the groceries, thinking, next stop Puerto Rico. Thinking, America by any other name--yeah. Which is so wrongly nostalgic but it somehow can't, in the blooming seasickness, be helped. Maybe we'll hang the big flag off the dinghy davits.
Engine not getting enough fuel, a haze of missed sleep over the bright morning entering Samaná Bay. American ex-slaves came here after the Civil War, and maybe they came by this route, rough rounding the corner and seeing the palm trees and green slopes of their new home, uncharted freedom, not even a road leading from the capital.
The lagartijo that T carried through three grocery stores and an ice cream place.
A performance space on the cay.
El mar