Hi,

It’s a Sunday afternoon in Las Galeras, just as it is where you are; but the similarities may stop right there. For one thing, we’re an hour ahead of the East Coast; four ahead of the West and–well, you get that drift.

But it’s remarkably different here from where you are today.

For one thing, it’s astonishingly quiet, even by the 3rd-world village suburban standard that is the aural benchmark around our house. The ocean tides aren’t particularly strong at this time this month and there are no wind-driven waves to speak of, so the surf sound is an occasional soft and rolling murmur. Being Sunday, there are not many motors going up and down the hill on the way to or from work, or going to or returning from lunch. (True, the Dorado salesman did motor up to peddle fish this morning, but he’s got a pretty good little muffler on that bike.)

A sometime and small breeze rustles the palm thatch in the roof and the leaves in the trees and that is pretty much it.

Other than the occasional cock-crow and a near constant mockingbird song, it’s really quite still today. That pretty much describes my day, too.

You subscribers will know how it’s impossible to keep up with the pace of a subscription to the New Yorker magazine. You understand how the issues come relentlessly week after week with no regard or consideration for the activities that comprise the rest of your life. You’ll understand when I say that I’ve about caught up with those copies that accumulated when we were here for five months last year. Today I spent the morning in the hammock, catching up on the month of March, 2008. A few more issues and I’ll be current to mid-October, when I arrived in the Dominican.

It looks as though the momentum in the US election is swinging Obama’s way. Good on him.

Here, it appears as though we’re entering the dry season a little early. The flowers are starting to get serious about producing seeds, and we’re once again conscious of the water level in the cistern after holding steady at “full” for a couple of months.

Another reliable sign of the changing season is the presence of more tourists in town. The arrival of tourists here is as noticeable as the change that happens on the Easter weekend in Washington, DC. The numbers are profound, although on an obviously different scale. Twenty people can seem to fill up an empty street here like two hundred can there.

A few days from now these visitors will cast a ruddy pink penumbra over the town that will be reminiscent of sunrise. This sort of rosy glow will be generated by the collective reflection from their seriously sunburned touristic hides. And they will spend Dollars and Euros, and life will be better in Las Galeras for a while, or busier anyway.

Most of the tourists in Las Galeras are European and most of those stay in the “Grand Paradise,” formerly the “Casa Marina.” Despite a new and upscale name this is a pretty unpretentious “all-inclusive” resort. It’s the only one of its kind around here and I’m told it is the only Dominican-owned all-inclusive resort on the island of Hispaniola. (Other all-inclusives are almost all owned by one big Spanish hotel chain.)

This year I recognize some of the tourists as regular returnees and nod as we walk through their resort on the way to town. It’s a pretty laid-back sort of place, heavy on beach-sleeping, book-reading, and sun-burning, although they do occasionally mount an expedition of a dozen or more dusty All-Terrain-Vehicles and head up through our neighborhood on the way to one beach or another. No sound of them today, though.

Which brings me abruptly to the real reason for writing today. I promised to let you all know when I took the wraps off the “El Otro WA” weblog and now suppose there’s no reason to delay that any further.

The website contains (I think) every e-mail that I’ve sent to this collective group and a number of other musings and photos as well.

The El Otro WA website has an every-fifteen-minute weather report from the station in Samana which is only 35 kilometers away even though they do get considerably more rain than we do here at the end of the peninsula.

The page also has a convenient little orange button near to the address field of your browser that you can use to do an RSS subscription to the page. It’s painless and easy enough to disappear if these missives become tedious.

Most interestingly, you can begin to publicly comment on these e-mails. Many of you have done so privately and your observations have been thoughtful and hilarious. From your comments I’ve learned some things about your lives and, by extension, my own. I now know something about growing up in rural Florida, about how living and working in the labor movement has been for you; my Mom shared a pretty good description of her first clothes washing machine and a friend in Seattle even sent pretty regular weather updates describing the conditions for the poor bastards living in Ulaanbaatar.

Anyway, I hope you’ll feel motivated to share your comments on the site, that others may enjoy your pearls as I have. You’ve got nothing to lose but your dignity and we’re none of us as dignified as we’d like to imagine, I suppose.

Keep those cards and letters coming in any event.

Best regards,

Bill

www.elotrowa.com

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5 Comments on The El Otro WA Website

  1. nicole says:

    Great work on the web site. The fabulous messages from you and Denise today make us want to retire. Keep up the great existence. We’re still happy in el otro otro WA. The kids are amazing – if I may say so myself. Love, Nicole & Andy

  2. Unclemaslo says:

    Bill,

    We always enjoy your posts and I for one looked forward to visiting one day. But alas, between the frog in the toilet and the dragon story, I’m afraid Shirley is up to a solid “10” on her personal creep-o-meter. I guess we will have to visit you in DC!

    See ya later alligator!

    Bob & Shirl

  3. Beth says:

    Congrats on your new website. It’s always a pleasure to read about the lives you’re making for yourselves in the Dominican Republic, and WOW – what beautiful photos! Now all 3 of us are eager to visit you. I don’t know when, but someday. Maybe even someday soon.

    Best wishes over the holidays.

  4. admin says:

    It’s interesting to me–but probably of small consequence, that the three of you are all people we met years and years ago in Seattle, or in your case Nicole, who had the wit to move to Seattle from the “other” Washington.

    So, in that spirit we’ll continue to post from “The other (other) Washington,” El Otro WA.

    Best regards and wishes in the coming year.

    Bill

  5. tompkins says:

    Namaste- I’m worried. I’ve not received word from you for months, which I attributed my belief that you were wanting to communicate through Elotrowa rather than direct Email, which didn’t seem unreasonable to me, not to mention my own lack of social outreach, for which I apologize, but when I finally got around, tonight, at home (partially as a means to avoid doing the bills, frankly), to actually log on to Elotrowa, it appears that no new posts have been made by you since the last one I remember reading, back in January. I HOPE good adventures are keeping you otherwise occupado, but could you please let me know?

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