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.
This trip, authorities with TSA, in Newerk, confiscate a small bottle of flavored rum that Scott is taking home to enjoy, legally bought at the Museo of Rum in Santo Domingo. The size of the bottle, according to the TSA limit, is “over the limit. ” The agent says ” leave it, or consume it now. ” Figuring they will give me a ticket for flying drunk next, I give up,leave the rum,and board my plane.
Are we to a point in this USA that this micromanagement is necessary, or even healthy?
Governments are, according to more than just me, too big for their britches.
This trip is over, and, I hope, another quickly follows.
Even without my rum, which TSA agents have already enjoyed, staying healthy and traveling is my Doctor’s best prescription.
Next time, I will drink the whole bottle before I get to the airport.
Most smoking in America has been banned from public buildings. All tobacco packaging has to contain scientific 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 by eating tons of lifesavers he kept high up on a closet shelf where we kids 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 meet a plastic Camel lounging in a smoking room. It is cool and quiet here and there are only a few people in the lounge this morning, a cleaning woman and one smoking man puffing intently on his Camel cigarette, his smoke making clouds in this smoking room thick enough for the rest of us to walk on.
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 product negatives and buy what they want to make us think makes us more important and sophisticated.
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.
This home, luxurious in it’s day, doesn’t even meet the required building codes in most American middle class neighborhoods in these times.
What is more worth weighing is whether this man and family of the eighteenth century, compared with another man and family of our twenty first century, flourished and lived a happy life.
A house doesn’t need to be new and fancy to be a happy home.
What is more important than square footage and stainless steel appliances is whether the man of this house was happy to go home, and the people in his home were happy to see him when he hung up his hat and came inside the front door.
I’m walking, minding my business, on a cloudless day.
Water pours down like someone is pouring a bucket of water on me, which they are.
In the Zona Colonia, water used to mop balcony floors, or spilled when watering plants, exits the upstairs balcony through a piece of PVC pipe sticking through the balcony walls far enough that the excess water falls to the street below.
My next precaution is to take an umbrella on my jaunts.
If I had a plug and a ladder, I’d climb up and fix my problem and give these careless horticulturists a well deserved back up of their plumbing.
All they have to do is look down and make sure no one is below before they empty their buckets.
That’s common courtesy, but you don’t have to have courtesy when you live on the top floor.
When you live upstairs, it gets easy to forget those below you.
The materials employed to make these mobile constructions 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 back porch overlooking the Palo Duro Canyon in Texas.
These hand made hummingbird’s in a Santo Domingo art gallery, all dance in front of me, in an orbiting circle, set in motion by a little tap by my right hand forefinger.
Setting things in motion is what us humans do, instinctively, all the time.
My right forefinger, on my laptop mouse, starts this post’s video in motion too, with a slight gentle left click..
There is art everywhere on Calle Conti, leaning against walls in pedestrian walkways, stacked deep in little shops along with Dominican Republic baseball caps and knick knacks. The canvases are 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 browsers can see quickly that there is space inside the gallery to stand back and look at the art and crafts sold 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 to it, 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 and place. There are insignia of the Spanish Crown, familial and political dynasties. The weathered corroded 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 them much better if one of these guys was laughing.
Even back then, people working on this Cathedral liked a good joke, even if it’s telling sometimes got them locked up in the dungeon for a few nights with a hundred lashes and not even a pot to pee in.
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, even though we both like our rum right out of the bottle. .