Month: March 2015

The Guagua Life

The Guagua Life

By Jackie Leavitt The woman’s thigh cushions me as I rock slightly from side to side in the guagua bus, holding me in place like a reassuring hug. In the U.S., it would be a stranger’s slight invasion of personal space, but here, it’s comforting. […]

A Caribbean St. Patrick’s Day: Cabarete

A Caribbean St. Patrick’s Day: Cabarete

By Jackie Leavitt White wine will always remind me of Boston. Not the usual association, I know, but when I lived there in 2010, that’s when I actually started to drink it. Years before, I had begun enjoying wine on the darker side of the spectrum, with […]

The Chimera: Puerto Plata

The Chimera: Puerto Plata

By Jackie Leavitt

There’s a relief from the stinging air that has been running to the back of my throat. The car and motorcycle exhaust that floats through Puerto Plata’s streets clears up as the wind whips it and my hair past my face on la puntilla, a point of the ocean harbor, north of town. I much prefer it here, on the water, than there, in town.

I do not necessarily feel welcomed by the people along the roads, although those I talk to (in my broken Spanish / English / Italian / gesturing) have been helpful. But I also hear hola baby and hissing trailing in my wake as I walk through town, leaving my spine and shoulder blades tight. I have yet to feel ready to relax. Perhaps it’s traveling alone as a blonde woman without speaking the language coherently. In Santo Domingo, tourism is, to a degree, welcomed. In Puerto Plata, the all-inclusive-resort guests are tolerated — staying in a hostel in town, like I am, is an anomaly and puzzles people.

I walk through la puntilla around the old, stone Fortaleza San Felipe and gaze over the swishing blue harbor water, yellowed by the sun. The electric plant in Costambar sits in the background, floating in fog, trying to blend into the clouds forming around Mount Isabel De Torres. It’s as if the shimmering ocean is playing a trick, distracting you from the smoggy machinery behind it. The light tries to blind you to what is there.

But, in its illusion, is it not still beautiful?

I can only imagine what it was like here 100 years ago, before industrialization and tourism polluted the area. I leave the fort and head back to town, with the sun sinking low in the sky.