In airports we are moving to someplace new or returning to someplace familiar. We are waiting interminable hours then squeezing into airplanes that take us 35,000 feet above the Earth and show us movies. We are victims of delays, layovers, plane cancellations, Customs, paperwork, pat downs, x rays and questions. For some, these indignities are acceptable. For others, they are barely tolerable.
In some countries of the world, people see government flying overhead in planes filled with armed soldiers. They hear the whistle of rockets and homes on their street blown up. In some countries, soldiers walk streets with weapons, stop people, check ID’s and take people away if they don’t like their answers. In some countries, people are detained and never seen again. In some countries, citizens are graded by government according to their group participation, lack of negative comments about the government, and good deeds in advancing the needs of the State.
This trip, authorities with TSA, in Newerk, confiscate a small bottle of flavored rum that Scott is taking home to enjoy. The size of the bottle, according to the TSA limit, is “over the limit. ”
Are we to a point in this USA that this micromanagement is necessary, or even healthy? Is all this just getting us ready for other changes we are going to like even less?
Scotttreks likes flowers and singing birds, walking and taking pictures, but, this doesn’t mean we aren’t watching other things too.
This trip is over, and, I hope, another is quickly on the way.
Even without my rum, which the TSA agents have already enjoyed, staying healthy and traveling is my Doctor’s best prescription.
Most smoking in America has been banned from public buildings. All tobacco packaging has to contain true warnings that tobacco products are not good for your health. Tobacco is taxed at an exorbitant rate. Television advertising of tobacco products has been curtailed drastically. Multi-million dollar lawsuits have awarded money to smoking victims in large class action health related lawsuits. Doctors advise all their clients to quit. Smoking in movies and on television by actors and actresses has trickled to a few puffs each season.
Camel cigarettes are one of the last surviving brands from the 1950’s.
As kids, we thought it funny to see the Camels on cigarette packs and wondered who would smoke them instead of Philip Morris, Lucky Strikes or Marlboro’s. The fifties were a smoking heyday with millions of vets acquiring the habit in the war and continuing when they got home. Our Dad smoked, but quit, once we were born, by eating tons of lifesavers he kept on a closet shelf where we couldn’t reach them. The Camels always made us think of the French Foreign Legion, men wearing funny hats fighting other men wearing funny hats.
In this Santo Domingo airport, on my way home, I find a Camel lounging in a smoking room. It is a cool place to hang out while waiting for my plane to board and there are only a few people here this morning, a cleaning woman and a smoking man looking out the window and checking his boarding pass.
Camels, might truly be cool, but I hear, from people who have lived with them, that they are nasty, have body order, and spit at people they don’t like.
Advertising always gets us to ignore the negatives,
I’m in this smoking room, hanging with a camel, and I don’t even smoke;
Sometimes you just don’t know what you are missing till you try something else.
Pat has been persistently trying to move Scott to a DSLR for several years. ” I Phone cameras are good for what they are, ” he has always maintained, ” but cell phones make telephone calls and get you on the net. If you want good pictures you got to get better equipment. ”
My DSLR stuff has been collecting dust, but, on this trip, Scott has taken his Nikon DSLR out of its case and taken a few photos.
The entire process is like discovering that you can eat soup with a fork, if you like, but it is easier and less messy to use a spoon.
So, here are a few photos taken with the Nikon.
I like them and hope Pat likes them too.
Next trip, there will be substantially more of them.
Across from Billini plaza is a well to do man’s home of the nineteen hundreds.
His home, which I am shown through, is several hundred years older than the Alcazar de Don Colon and several hundred years behind homes you find now in the Zona Colonia with modern refrigerated air, jacuzzi’s, fancy kitchens and garages. In another two hundred years, the homes of the future will be with us and who knows what rich people will demand that might filter down to the rest of us.
The Zona Colonia has transported me back to earlier times and works on me slowly, gradually moves me to slow down, realize that people were happy in the nineteen hundreds too, even if their houses are not up to modern code.
In a few days, I board a plane and return to my twenty first century home in a different country on the globe, to the high desert, to a house superior to any of these old dwellings.
This home, compared to even modest homes of our time, is not up to the test.
What is more worth comparing is whether this man and family of the eighteenth century or another man and family in our twenty first century flourished and lived a happy life, in spite of life’s obstacles.
I’m walking, minding my business, on a cloudless day.
Water pours down like someone is pouring a bucket on me, which they are. In the Zona Colonia, water used to mop balcony floors, or spilled when watering plants, is exited through a piece of PVC stuck through a concrete wall of the balcony far enough that the water falls to the street below. Walking below, I’ve had plenty of close calls for unwanted showers.
My next precaution is to take an umbrella, come rain or come shine, as an old song sings.
If I had a plug and a ladder, I’d climb up and fix my problem and give them a well deserved back up.
All they have to do is look over and make sure no one is below before they empty their bucket.
That’s common courtesy, but, i guess, you don’t have to worry about good manners when you live on the top floor.
The materials making these mobiles are exquisitely simple – wire, fishing line, paper mache, paint.
One touch of one hummingbird and all of them are flying, fearless in space, reminding me of hummingbirds in the Costa Rican Monteverde Rain Forest, reminding me of a hummingbird in South Fork, Colorado, reminding me of hummingbird’s gravitating to a feeder on brother Alan’s front porch in Palo Duro Canyon.
The hummingbird’s all dance in the air, in a circle, set in motion by a little tap by my right hand forefinger.
Setting things in motion is what us humans do, instinctively.
My right forefinger, on the laptop mouse, starts this video in motion too, with a slight tap.
There is art everywhere on Calle Conti, leaning against walls in the pedestrian walkways, stacked deep in little shops along with Dominican Republic baseball caps and knick knacks. The canvases are both small, medium, and large, but all seem to have been painted by the same pair of hands.
Bolo’s, on a different street,catches my eye, which is a good sign for a business that deals in tantalizing the eyes and tweaking the spirit. Outside, by the gallery’s front door are three colorful masks and I can see quickly that there is space inside the gallery to stand back and look at the art and crafts inside.
The galleries featured artist this month, Almanzar from Haiti, has displayed a series of self portraits done in a pointillist like style, with subtle girl colors. To counterbalance her glowing transcendence there are colorful fish hung on an opposing wall, a hummingbird construction towards the back of the shop that draws me, and an entire bookcase full of quaint, colorful wood figures sitting on the edge of each book shelf.
The black sales woman has music on, a glowing smile, and is gracious enough to let me take my time and just browse on a quiet afternoon in the middle of the week.
I do wonder about an artist that does a show of self portraits.
Why would someone you don’t know want to buy your self portrait?
Wouldn’t they really just want to buy one of themselves?
The front and back metal gates to the massive Cathedral, in the center of the Zona Colonia, are not four hundred years old. They look that old, however, and the faces sculpted unto them look eternal and primordial.
There are the faces of Luke, Mark, Matthew and John from the Bible. There are faces that show basic human emotions that continue, regardless of time. There are insignia of the Spanish Crown, familial and political dynasties. The faces remind me of Gothic figures peering down from old churches in Europe telling us we are not perfect and will be rewarded for our sins in terrible ways I cannot imagine, even in my most harrowing of dreams.
Each art form tries to convey human emotions with its own materials and methods.
Music uses sound to suggest romantic interludes, fierce battles, fear invoking scenes. Art uses color and line to show the three dimensional world on two dimensional surfaces. Sculpture, as done by old masters, uses clay, bronze, marble or stone to show us who we are and who we should be. These weathered faces on the gates convey anger, remorse, pain, love, tenderness, regret, hope, betrayal.
These faces draw me closer instead of pushing me away.
I would like it better of one of these guys was laughing.
Even back then, people liked a good joke, even if it’s telling sometimes got them locked up in the dungeon.
Columbus brought the first sugarcane to the new world, and, shortly after, the first sugar cane plantation, worked by slaves, was begun in the New World in the Dominican Republic. A trade route was begun with Europe bringing African slaves to the America’s, trading them for rum, tobacco, cotton and other resources to take back to Europe. A rich European merchant class was built on people working under a hot sun having someone else tell them when they could stop.
Rum is said to increase good cholesterol, combat artery blockages to help prevent heart attacks and disease. Rum is low calorie, strengthens bones,promotes heart health,combats muscle pain,fights the common cold, acts as a sleep aid, extends longevity, reduces the risk of alzheimer’s disease.
Sir Francis Drake gave his sailors a daily shot of rum and pirates drank the stuff instead of water, which was not always available, especially in the middle of an ocean.
The Museo of Rum in the Zona Colonia makes rum on its premises and has a free tasting bar.
I buy myself some coffee flavored rum I hope I can get through Customs and back home, and I plan to implement a daily regimen of rum for all the health benefits that accrue from drinking it.
I will , though, never become a Los Angeles Raider football fan.
Pirates, even Jack Sparrow, are too shady for my taste,