A little early-morning shout-out to the Guess Who starts me off today. Well, except for the fact that the seasons will not be changing around here any time soon. This Gringo was not built for this climate. I walked in the house after bringing my wife to work and my son to school, spending all of 20 minutes outside in the decidedly hot and humid morning, and my empleada says to me, “¡Dios mio, ésta sudando!” Yep, pretty much. The moisture in the air here in the tropics is downright oppressive. This weather makes D.C. in the summer look like Fall in New England. I actually miss dew points of only 65-70 degrees. This morning we’re rocking a cool 80% humidity, with temps expected to rise into the mid-90s. And lucky me, I get to spend most of the morning outside directing the movers with our second shipment of HHE. Huzzah!
It’s funny… at the beach the other weekend the heat and humidity were about the same, but the presence of a stiff Atlantic breeze and the lack of smog and pollution made it bearable. Here in Santo Domingo there’s a dome of pollution enveloping the city that makes air circulation a pipe dream. The sun beats down on the city, reflects up, and gets sent back down by the haze. All of this adds to my general discomfort. Several other Embassy folk have told me I’ll “get used to it,” but I’m starting to wonder.
Even more difficult is the fact that in order to not appear such a Gringo, I have taken to not wearing shorts in public. It’s a clever ruse that only partially works. As soon as I open my mouth to say something, the gig is up. So I’ve taken to keeping my house at a pleasant 25 degrees Celsius during the day, and 23 at night (77 and 73 F, respectively, for you Imperialists). I can’t bear to be outside for more than 10-15 minutes at a time in this city, and welcome the frigid air of the malls, supermarkets, and the Embassy. I bask in the cold air as the Dominicans are putting on light sweaters and cursing the A/C.
In other news, after a horrible Spanish week last week, compounded by a debilitating back injury, I seem to be able to communicate again. My Spanish steadily improves every day, to the point where yesterday I had a rather complex conversation with my empleada about the similarities between Boston and Santo Domingo traffic and street layout. Anyone who’s driven in Boston would be right at home in this city. It’s a catastrophe – every man for himself with narrow escapes from accidents being the norm rather than the exception. It brings new meaning to the saying, “He who hesitates is lost.” If you don’t assert yourself at the potential expense of your front bumper or fender, you’ll never get anywhere in this city.
One last thing before the movers arrive… We went out to visit the NY Mets training facility in Boca Chica this past weekend. This was all sponsored by MLB and Banco BHD (the official Dominican bank of MLB). We saw the Dominican Baseball Museum (an addition to the BHD branch in Boca Chica), and then toured the training facility. The facility is really nice (think a solid NCAA D-II program in the States), and a LOT of young Dominicans try to realize their dreams through there. We gather that all 30 of the MLB teams are represented down here, and they are injecting a lot of money into he community. BHD has a nice program where they will help the players (most of whom are 17-18) by teaching them financial responsibility, open a savings account for them, and dole out their salary in smaller increments so that the players are not tempted to blow it all in one place and so that their families and friends cannot take advantage of them. It’s a good relationship, and a great program.
Mahalo for now.