In just a matter of days, I’ll be melting tanning oil off my body as I sit under a fan of softly swaying palm trees, and sipping frozen drinks with pink umbrellas. If you haven’t guessed already, I’m going on vacation! For two weeks, I’ll be in the Dominican Republic with my ruca and two of my good friends, my “Frisco family.” While I should be squealing like a schoolgirl over her first crush, I can’t help but feel slightly indifferent and I figured out why: Not only does the vacation not seem “real” yet, but I’m not quite sure what to expect…
The reason my vacation probably doesn’t seem “real” is because the winter chill in San Francisco is so poignant, my bones feel like wet washcloths too cold to dry. While the high 60s might be a warm day to some city folks, I feel like a friggin' snowman. Eighty-degree Caribbean humidity is unfathomable! Frozen daiquiris sound absurd! Last night, in my thick winter robe and wooly slipper boots, I held up my bathing suit for the first time in two years and gasped, “I’m going to wear this?” I know my vacation (and the weather) will all be real sooner than I know, and I’ll probably no doubt bake myself silly like a pepperoni sizzling on top of a burning hot pizza, but right now, in a blustering cold city in the middle of winter, paradise still seems like fairytale talk.
Also, I have no idea what to expect from the Dominican Republic. Besides reading Dominican writer Junot Diaz's works so spellbound, I nearly ripped pages for turning them so fast, I have little connection with the DR. Although, isn’t that the beauty of traveling? To go to some exotic foreign place you know hardly anything about, and learn their culture firsthand by actually immersing yourself in it?
I began to think back on some of my other travels and pre-anticipations. Before I studied abroad in Oaxaca, all I knew was that the mole there was off the hook. Now when I think of it, thousands of images and sentiments zap instantaneously back through my mind: I can feel the exuberant buzz swelling through the marketplace, the smells of food, and laughing children running with their trensas trailing behind them like a cape. I recall brilliantly colored alebrijes, exquisite black pottery, tlayudas on the street, señoras in their auténtica blusas, mayates wallowing in cobblestone street puddles. I can still hear the symphony of a thousand birds harmonizing the grand tree of Tule, and reminisce the marvel of feeling like a tiny star in a vast and monstrous galaxy as I overlooked the ancient Monte Alban ruins. Then there was Cuba. Before, all I could think was that the country was an ominous, forbidden place. Now, I remember the dazzling dancers of every café and street-corner in Havana, the magnificence of the Malecón clearing in the early morning fog, classic 50s cars sharing the streets with the over-stuffed gua-guas, and striking women proudly filled with voluptuous curves, untouched by American’s obsession with sickly looking skinniness. There was also Jamaica, an island where I once believed everyone smoked weed and called each other ‘mon.’ When I got there, I realized that everyone smoked weed and called each other ‘mon.’ Ah, the wonderments of travel are simply exhilarating!
While the trip still does not seem real yet, it will be soon enough. Or perhaps that reality will only sink in once I step off the plane and the humid air kinks up my hair fantastically! As for not knowing what to expect, well, I can’t help but think that maybe the unknowing is half the fun of the experience…. In two weeks, just the mere mention of the Dominican Republic will unfurl an entire new world of images and sentiments in my head—all of which I will gladly share with you, dear reader.
Stay tuned in mid-February for my next posting!
Extra note: Did I say Cuba? Silly typo, ha ha! Er…I did mention this was a fiction blog, right?