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When we departed the Dominican last spring we–very quickly and with almost no preparation–made the arrangement for a young Haitian family to move into our guest bungalow for the time that we were away. Johnnie and his wife, Anna have worked for some time for friends who live nearby, and the friends vouched for them and for the behavior of their children.

And so we felt OK leaving our bungalow in their care.

Unlike our home, the bungalow doesn’t have inside cooking facilities (but it does have a thatched roof!) As is typical in the Dominican Republic, we have an outdoor kitchen and so everything was in order for the four of them, excepting refrigeration, which for much of the world is an optional luxury anyway.

Moving day arrived–the evening before our very early departure, and only a day and a half after we first floated the idea.

At about 7:30 PM Johnnie presented his wife, and each of his sons. The boys appeared to be polished for the occasion. The two, ages 3 and 4, seemed alert and respectful and introduced themselves with only minimal prompting before shaking our hands and moving off to cautiously but eagerly check out their new home. It was dark and nearly bedtime and so their first exploration of the garden and surroundings happened the next morning after Denise and I had departed for the US.

It took the two adults only two trips from the driveway to the bungalow to move the entirety of their belongings into their temporary home. And so, with another grand leap of faith, Denise and I were off to the United States.

Except for the fifteen or twenty of you who are new to this list, you all know how we spent our summer vacation. Any other curious readers can take a look at the El Otro WA archives:

Anyway, we had a swell summer. Time passed. Some things changed and some other things did not. Some of the things that didn’t change are pretty damm important, but this is not about that.

We returned to the Dominican Republic earlier this week, arriving in Las Galeras at pretty much the same time of day as when Johnnie and his family had first arrived, maybe a little later.

Johnnie, Anna, and the well-polished boys were awaiting our arrival to offer their assistance in opening the house for the first time in five months.

After traveling all day with two nervous cats on their maiden voyages from living indoors, Denise and I were both feeling pretty tense as well. I don’t think that we wanted anything more than to set up a temporary cat box, water and feed the critters and ourselves and then make, and crawl into bed.

But, not withstanding our hope and best intention, Johnnie was in a celebratory mood. Upon our moving into the circle of light by the garage, he cried out “Memo! Tu es muy gordo!!!” I translate this as “Bill! You are VERY fat!”

I’m sure that this is true in his eyes, although many of you in the United States would merely observe that, “well, yes, he is a little overweight.”  But you probably wouldn’t mention it. Those of you who are in complete denial would maybe wonder why I just don’t buy clothes that fit.

Iv’e mastered Spanish well enough to be quite sure in my literal translation of “Tu es muy gordo!!!” But I now know enough about life on the island of Hispaniola to anticipate his next words, “Gracias por Dios,” roughly, “Thanks be to God!” So Johnnie is happy for me, the intervening five months have been good to me; I have eaten well since last we saw each other, and I am strong to withstand a period of scarcity.

But mostly he is happy for us and that we have done so well (Denise, too, is greeted as “muy gorda!”

So we’ve arrived; our house is now open and mostly clean and organized and the kitties are settling down, even if they are still a little puzzled. I’m resolving small issues with the pumps, the automobile, and sundry other items that we placed into Limbo for the months of our absence.

We’re quite pleased to be here in Las Galeras and will mash on the brakes–both literal and figurative, to catch up with our friends when we first see each of them and then, in a couple of weeks, it will feel exactly like home.

So we’re doing well. I hope that you’re all very fat, too.


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