So now that I had successfully renewed my ‘marbete’ and my car was now legal to drive on the Dominican streets (or as one witty friend said in response to me saying I was being blonde for waiting so long to renew my plates, that I was now a ‘legal’ blonde). so time to take the car out for a test drive.
I had been invited by my good friend Elizabeth to the Christmas party at the British Ambassador’s home. It sounded ‘all that’ but really I just was happy to have something to put on my calendar. Elizabeth is a fellow American, sharp as a tack writer/journalist (even though I must admit I’ve never read anything she’s written, I can tell this just by talking to her) and fellow New Yorker. on the surface we appear like Mutt and Jeff, different in both size, shape and hair color. An imposing, large woman, Elizabeth is disarmingly comfortable in her own skin, something so incredibly refreshing it’s like mainlining red bull when I talk to her.
So I drive in my newly-legal vehicle to pick her up. Turns out the party is in Arroyo Hondo, a sector in North Santo Domingo that I’m not that familiar with. She hands me a small map that was printed from and email attachment on the invite. The map looked simple enough but I knew, from my six years of living here, that it was only simple because information was not included. In fact, according to the illustration, the ‘Jardin Botanico’ (botanical gardens in case you haven’t been following this blog) was shown to be in the middle of the highway, something we knew was not right at all.
So after examining this map under the streetlight, because the interior light in my car did not work, and weighing our options of getting lost versus paying for a taxi, we chose what turned out to be the less sensible option and made our way in the car.
Long story short, we got quite lost on several occasions. we made it to the general vicinity but with no real road signs, one slight turn to the left and we were on ‘Autopisto Duarte’, a very very dark highway with no lane markings, no clear exits, no obvious place to turn around, and no, absolutely no idea where we were going. after several u-turns and stops for directions, we got closer. We were looking for ‘Cuesta Hermosa II’ (if I remember right) and we found ‘I’ so we knew we were close. then, however, we immediately saw ‘III’ but no ‘II’. Lest I be dismayed, I remembered I am in the Dominican Republic so there is no logic to the order of things and sure enough, Cuesta Hermosa II was right after III.
The party itself was less remarkable than the trip getting there. A beautiful home, sublimely decorated for Christmas. The ambassador was friendly, apparently completing his post soon, and eager to go back to his home in France… as he put it, a true European national, representing Britain while living in France.
Most of the guests were considerable older than me. One fascinating couple from Canada told me about their first time in the Dominican Republic during the reign of Trujillo. i have heard this before, everyone always politely references the fact that yes, he was a horrible dictator, but… there was no crime, no delinquency, no chaos. It makes me wonder if that is the price you have to pay to have order in a country like this. I hope not.
After the drink tickets were exhausted, and all the Christmas carols sung, we headed home, this time giving a ride to one of the guests who guided us easily home.