26 People and a Chicken on a 15 Passenger Van
24 de Septiembre 2014
This weekend a couple of my girlfriends and I decided we needed a relaxing weekend at the beach. After making last minute plans Thursday night, we met at the bus station Friday morning to make our way to Sosua. Once we arrived the first order of business was lunch. We walked down to the beach to a family restaurant my friends had already created a friendship with. We feasted on fresh Parrot Fish and tostones (I dare describe how delicious it was, knowing that will end up occupying most of this post).
We stayed at the beach all day, enjoying the crystal clear water and good company. As the sun started to set we decided that all we wanted more of the delicious fish we had for lunch. We ordered Parrot Fish for everyone and ate dinner right along the water’s edge as the sun set.
We originally planned to only stay one night but we were not ready to part with our comfy hostel upgraded room in Cabarete and the beautiful beaches in Sosua quite yet. We booked the rooms for another night and two of our friends came to join us.
On our way to Sosua that morning, we caught another concho. The most popular conchos in this area are 15-passanger vans that travel the main road connecting Sosua and Cabarete. They are what most locals use as transport to get to and from work as they run from 6am to 6pm. The concho that stopped to pick us up looked pretty full, and when I say that, that means more full than the day before when there were 20 people squeezed into the back of the van. However, the driver had no concern that we would not fit. He quickly asked people to squeeze in a little tighter and we somehow jammed ourselves into the van. I ended up sitting on a small ledge near the door. With the tropical climate the van tends to get pretty hot. All the windows and the sliding door are usually kept open to help with air flow. I was precariously perched right next to the open door that had 3 passengers hanging on outside of it. As the concho bumped along the road I held tight chuckling with the Dominicans I was sitting next to. All the sudden heard a squawk. I looked to my right and saw one of the men had a chicken on his lap. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it earlier! I counted the number of the people on the bus and there were 26 people (and a chicken) piled onto a van. This was in addition to the large bags of grain that some people were carrying to the markets that they worked at. Half way through the ride the man with the chicken got off the concho. Before getting off he handed the chicken to the driver. Now I am not sure, but it looked to me that he paid for his transportation with a chicken! I regret that I didn’t take a photo of this experience with Dominican public transportation but as you may have gathered there wasn’t too much room to go rummaging through by bag in search of my camera.
On the topic of public transportation, I love the conversations I have with my favorite taxista (taxi driver) Rafael. Tonight he told me there are 3 phases in life. The first, el león (lion) where you are young and on top of the world and partying all day and night. The second is the burro (donkey) where you work day in and day out (this is the stage he is in now). Lastly is the stage of el mono (monkey) where you are bald and hunched over and wrinkled with saggy eyes. I told him that I am determined to stay a leona for as long as I can his reply: bueno suerte -good luck. Feeling lucky to experience this country as a young leona. I can only hope that I am as animated as Rafael in my burro years.