April 3, 2015
MOSQUITO BITE COUNT:
I was having such a good run from bites but when I woke up in the morning, I had two solid ones by my knees on both legs. These suckers are super itchy too. It’s as though the mosquitos wanted to give me a parting gift before I went home.
*this will be my last Dominican post*
I woke up in the morning with a sore throat, earache, and swollen hands. “What an odd combination, “ I thought as I wondered how the rest of the day would turn out. I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with all of the things I had left to finish before I traveled to the airport.
Someone was supposed to pick me up at 1pm for the ride to the airport, though I still wasn’t sure who it’d be. I needed to finish getting ready to leave but my sickness had me moving very slowly. Every so often I would need to sit down to take breaks. My body was shaking and I felt the fever burning within me.
Needless to say, I managed to finish packing, planning two of 8 lessons, cleaning my rooms, and eating half of my lunch. I was happily surprised to find Picho sitting outside of the house at 1pm. The perfect person to send me off. Before I knew it, we were already at the airport and one of the young porters was already grabbing my suitcases. I wished Pincho goodbye and hurried to the line where the porter was standing. He asked me for my passport and I reluctantly handed it to him. I noticed that the porter was trying to expedite me through the line but wasn’t sure why. I asked the couple in front of me if they had a porter help them and ask for their passports and they told me no. I worried especially since I had left all of my remaining Dominican currency with Pincho (less than $5 USD) as a small tip and I didn’t have anything left to tip the porter. He eventually went away when I got to the counter and I could barely look at him when he said goodbye because I was so ashamed I didn’t have any money to give him.
I was able to collect my boarding passes and US customs form and made my way to the security checkpoint just before my carry on was meant to get scanned. I noticed several people putting their drinks to the side as the security guards were explaining that no liquids were allowed beyond that point. I decided to save myself some time and just put my bottle down. I thought it’d be inevitable that I’d also be asked to dispose of my bottle. The young guard told me in Spanish not to worry about it and told me that it would be okay for ME to have my bottle. I was thoroughly confused. Why was I an exception? Then with Spanish so rapid that I could barely hang on, he asked me something about my customs form. I was confused even more. I didn’t quite understand if I had the wrong form or if it needed to be filled out before I entered security. He told me to “hold on” and scurried off to the booth with pens and customs forms. He returned with a pen and the form for Dominican residents. He flipped over the form to the blank side, passed me the pen, then said, “Please jor number por WhatsApp.” Did I hear that correctly? Unsure of his intentions, I wrote down my fake number. Then he asked me to write down my name and it became apparent to me that in spite of the queue forming behind me, this security guard was trying to pick me up. He must have thought it was a most appropriate time to ask me for my number. As I passed through security, he called out telling me how beautiful I was. Interesting.
After being scanned I made my way to the customs area. I was informed that since I was in the Dominican for longer than the tourist visa allowed, 30 days, that I’d need to pay a fee of $61 USD. While the customs officer and I were trying to sort this out, another off duty officer in the connected both kept commenting on how beautiful I was. Okay, I get it. I’m foreign and they think I’m attractive but really this is not a good time for such distractions. I was trying to find my way out of paying for the extra fee. I had two $50 bills on me and asked if the officer would be able to give me change after payment. He explained that he couldn’t provide me with change and that I’d need to go back out past the bag scan, past security, past the officer who asked for my number, to a place that would be able to break the bill for me. I protested and so he called over someone who clearly had more authority than he did. When the manager was asked to escort me outside to get change, he promptly told the officer to just accept my $50. The customs officer was shocked and beside himself. His facial expression was painted with disbelief that an exception was being made for me. I got the impression that stuff like that was rarely done. The officer then reluctantly processed my passport and I thanked the manager. As I walked away from the booth, I heard the off duty officer say out loud, “it’s because she’s so beautiful,” as though to explain away the rare exception made.
I made my way into the airport lounge and thought that even though I wasn’t exactly hungry at that time, it’d be best for me to pick up some food to eat later. I knew I would only have 1.5 hours at the Miami airport before boarding my second plane. Knowing all too well how crazy and stressful MIA can when flying into Canada, I figured that getting food now would certainly be the best option. I found a decent place and ordered some pan-fried chicken with salad and fries. The restaurant manager seemed enamoured with me. He couldn’t stop trying to chat with me and telling me how beautiful I was. Surprisingly he thought I was Dominican. That was a sign that my Spanish had certainly improved. I finally was able to pry myself from his drooling gaze and my food from his grasp and I walked to the seating area. I giggled to myself as I thought, “this is one of the rare times when it’s beneficial to be a woman.”
Republica Dominicana, I’ve had a love hate relationship with you but I’m going to miss you. I’ll even miss your human mosquitoes too.
• Feeling sick. I worried how I would do on the flights home. During my MIA stopover, I was so sick that I had to run into one of the stores to search for DayQuil. At some point my energy was so low that I had to sit and wait for the shakiness to pass. I desperately just wanted to get the travel over and done with
• Though I managed to finish a lot this morning before I left, I can’t even begin to describe to you or even to myself, how challenging it was to finish all that I did this morning. I was ready to pass out but tried my best to clean up so that Freddie wouldn’t come back home to a house in disarray. I even washed all of my linens and my dishes.
• Though the flight delays weren’t major, totaled 1 hour, when you’re sick everything seems so dramatic. By the time we were being called to board the plane in MIA, I wondered if I would need to be wheeled in.
THINGS I LEARNED TODAY:
• Pincho has really enjoyed my company. Though he isn’t typically a man of many words, he made it a point to tell me how much he’s going to miss me and to please consider returning soon with Brad
• Pincho revealed to me that he had considered sending Alfredo to pick me up. He said, “if you were single, for sure Alfredo would have come to get you.” Apparently, he thinks I’d be perfect for Alfredo. Thank goodness I’m not single and even more goodness that Brad is more amazing than any other guy I know.
• Apparently I’m really attractive to Dominican men … mmm … but then again I’m sure they’re attracted to any woman. Either way, it was rewarding to be a woman today!
WHAT I’M GRATEFUL FOR:
• That it was Pincho after all who came to pick me up
• I made it to the airport in time! Yay!
• I got charged less customs tax than usual
• Getting through MIA was a lot quicker and less painful than I expected it to be
• The throat lozenges that my aunt had given me. So helpful!
• Being able to use the internet to keep my family updated while at both airports.
• That my mom gave up the plans she had in the evening to come pick up from the airport
• In spite of Pincho being convinced that my suitcase was almost 70 lbs, I was grateful to see that it was within the allowable weight range.
• As challenging as it was, I’m grateful for this trip. I’ll never forget that what was once merely a seed of a dream has actually blossomed into a reality. This is full proof that dreams and aspirations really can come true. I’m encouraged as I look forward to the dream job that’s bound to come up next.
• Brad, who supported me throughout the trip, was ready in the airport to grab my heavy suitcases and help me back to the car. So grateful that he also had a sweater in hand; I’m going to need time to get used to weather below 30 degrees. After helping me carry my suitcases inside he sweetly handed me a bouquet of flowers. Now I know I’m home.
Daddy, I’m on my way home. Keep me safe and well. Amen.
• Which thing about my trip have you found most surprising?
• Which blog post have you most enjoyed?
• Do you have any specific questions for me about my trip?