Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Driving in Dominica

February 16thToday is “the get out of the boat day”. Jim has just rented a car for 24 hours. A small Suzuki, very comfy. He went to the police station and bought a driving permit and now is in the bank exchanging money. The bank seems to be busy, but... in the islands life is very slow too.

We are anchored in Portsmouth Bay, west side of Dominica and our plan is to drive to Calibichie, on the east coast. In our way there we want to stop by the medical school for lunch, they have very good food stands.

We get to med school just in time to skip the crowd of students getting out of the class to buy lunch. The food is outstanding and the fruit juices take us to freshness land.

After lunch we head south and turn left in a steep road, that is not in the map, but Jim seems to know pretty well. It is the farms hill. Along this trip we stop and talk to the farmers and buy oranges, grape fruit and bananas.

This is definitely a small world, we are driving higher up the hill when this young man, called Jerry; who buys the oranges from the farmers to take them to the port and export the to other islands; stops the car to give us some free oranges. We park the Suzuki and start talking to him and the owner of the land, Louie. As soon as I mention that I'm from Cuba Jerry says: “I spent one month living in Cotorro, Edificio 88”. This place is one of the oldest communities, located in the limits of Havana City, near to the National Botanical Garden. “How come?” I ask surprised. The answer is even more stunning. “I went to the youth festival...” “...In 1997”. I finish his phrase. That was a huge event organized in Cuba, where people from 136 countries  got together in Cuba with the motto: "for Anti-imperialist Solidarity, Peace and Friendship". I worked in that event as an voluntary organizer and I also had a participant living in my house.

In the meanwhile Louie gives Jim a very sharp knife to cut an orange, I say good bye to Jerry, who leaves smiling, some usual in the natives. We stay talking to this old man that I'm having a hard time to understand and pretty soon I know we are following his truck on this steep road to visit his biggest land. Jim looks at me, I notice some tension on his voice when he asks me if I think it is OK. “Don't you worry, I know kung-fu.” I joke. He says: “they really know how to sharp a machete”.

I'm not scared.