house of happy

Life adventures in prose and verse. Explorations of places, people and words. Stories and fun.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Dominican Republic, Summer 1992


Out of the blue, we fly to the Dominican Republic to stay with friends. It's the farthest I've ever been. I fall asleep on the plane and when I wake up we're still flying. This, to me, is incredible. We're going to the end of the world.

We're there: a chaos of people, jeeps, overloaded buses, chickens and bananas. You steer me through. Pheew, we're on a bus, the heat is infernal, the light so white and dazzling it sears the eye. It smells of everything at once, the blossoming and the dying.

Hours later, we're in a small town and looking for the next ride. A motorbike. Is this where you get the bug? I hug your waist and still the wind finds ways to dance around us. I get off the wrong way and burn my leg on the exhaust. Branded.

For the next three weeks, we explore beaches festooned with palm trees, dash in and out jungles, try to avoid spiders, read poetry on Alastair's verandah, ride more motorbikes, sleep outside under the stars. I pour honey and cinammon on my burn.



One day, everyone goes into town, you included. I stay. As night falls, the beach, the trees, the sea itself, sound like they're closing in, covering the moon, and consuming my soul. I shiver. A few moments later, a little boy appears, brown and naked, the neighbour's son.

He tells me in Spanish that his mother, Leona, had sent him to keep me company. How did she know? He tells me more, I smile and nod, flooded with relief and gratitude. It's hard to be alone under this hungry sky.


We chat to each other, I teach him some English words. We eat sweets from the bottom of my bag. We sit on the porch, he's silent now, crouched in the night breeze, serious. I look at him. I was alone and frightened and he arrived: an angel.

So – for the next 20 years – I call him every time I'm alone and frightened.

I'm calling him now.

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