Day 9- Cuban Goodbyes
This morning I woke up knowing that all good things must come to an end. I didn’t sleep well at all because I was nervous about leaving, the flight to the Dominican Republic and all of the work that is waiting for me at home. But before I had to deal with all of that, I had a few more hours left and wanted to enjoy them. J I packed slowly, laying out the final gifts I had to give. I left Mamma Ana some candy, a bottle of lavender shower gel and an Oprah magazine. J She doesn’t speak much English, but she can actually read it quite well from her years as a professor. She said that many genetics texts are in English, so she had to learn it. I figure that Oprah magazine is as good a way as any to keep practicing that skill! J
While I was finishing up, Alejandro knocked on the door and said that I had a visitor. I couldn’t imagine who, since I was supposed to meet Merlin at his house in an hour. I went to the front porch and there was David. J He had been unable to come to the party last night and I was bummed because I wasn’t going to be able to say goodbye to him. But there he way, grinning at me. J We talked a bit, and finally hugged good-bye. He kissed me saying, “I will miss my ‘yes’ face!” I laughed. It had taken me forever to explain to him what that even was and when he finally got it, he loved the idea. We were sitting at the table in Merlin’s house two days ago when he looked at me and said, “You really DO have a ‘yes’ face!!” J J We agreed that we would email and that he would send me some of his model photos so that my friends could see what I was talking about. J With that, he jumped back into his taxi and headed off to rehearsal. Another good-bye down…….five to go.
As I waited for my own cab, I took photos of Ana and Alejandro, with us all taking turns with the camera. Six days ago, I said, “Every time I go somewhere, the first few days are like a first date…..we are all formal and polite, not quite sure of what to make of each other. Then it gets a little better. By Sunday, I suspect we will all be one big happy family.” Well, I was right. Now these people all feel like family and even though I am sad to leave, they have a permanent place in my heart and I am ok, knowing that I can come back and see them anytime!! J
When the cab finally showed up, there were hugs and kisses all around and I explained to the driver that we had to stop by Merlin’s so I can say good-bye to him and his parents. However, when we got there, there was no Merlin to be found! His parents got more and more agitated as we waited for him. It had started to rain lightly and they thought he had gone the three blocks to see me at my house. But when 15 minutes passed, we knew that he had made other plans. I stood there talking to his mom when I noticed that she was wearing one of the shirts I had given her. Then I looked down and saw them. She had on my tennis shoes. I whooped and hugged her…they fit and she liked them!! She twisted around, showing them to me and we grinned at each other. What a nice ending to the trip. J
I finally hugged them once more and got into the cab. I had exchanged tons of hugs and kisses with Merlin last night, and that would have to do. As we drove down the wet road, I tried to fix the picture in my mind. The buildings all shiny with rain, the plants and flowers bright and clean looking and people walking quickly to work and school, heads bent against the shower. I was on the verge of tears when I looked up and saw someone in a red shirt riding a bike quickly towards us. Merlin!! I was so happy!! The taxi driver stopped in the middle of the street and I jumped out to grab him. “I was at the house of my friend!” he said. I was just glad to get to see him one more time. We both looked down the block and could see the tiny figures of his parents waving at us from their front door. Everyone was smiling. J
So, Merlin rode off and I went to the airport. As I sat and waited for my plane, a guitarist sat next to me, playing for money. I explained to him that I had just exchanged all of my money, but he didn’t seem to want to take ‘no’ for an answer. I opened my book and he sat closer and closer to me, his elbow rubbing up against mine in an attempt to keep my attention. He went through his entire repertoire, concentrating especially on American music and when he finally broke into The Beatle’s “Yesterday”…. in Spanish….I got the giggles. I just wanted to be quiet and read and think about the week, but I was in the middle of a Mr. Bean sketch. When it was time to go through customs, they sent me back to pay the $25 airport tax…..in cuban money…..which I did not have. I sighed and went back around to the money exchange to turn some of my recently converted Euros back into Cuban money. When the guy handed me all bills and one single CUC coin, I knew it was a sign from the universe. I walked back to the guitarist and handed him the coin. Sometimes persistence just has to be rewarded. J
A four hour delay, a two hour flight, one cuba libre and a $25 cab ride later, I found myself back in Santo Domingo, DR, at the Quality Inn Suites. I have shown that I can be at home anywhere…..one-star hotels, hostels, and hovels. J It is time for some hot water, air conditioning, and high speed internet. I have an entire free day tomorrow, and while I might take a $40 cab back to the Cathedral, I just might hunker down and answer the 300+ emails that I got while I was gone. As far as I am concerned, this adventure has come to an end. And oh, what an adventure it was………
Thank you for following my emails and for sending me encouraging messages. I leave this trip feeling even more grateful for the life that I am leading and the friends and family that I have.
Muchas, muchas gracias,