This past weekend I got to hang out with my friend Kelly and his nephew Alberto. It was exactly the kind of local experience that I love. We headed to the outskirts of this huge city, but still within the city limits. It is kind of like Dartmouth is to Halifax, but a little further away. It took us about an hour in rush hour traffic to get there. It took only 20-30 minutes to return to the city later that night.
The entire time I was crammed in the middle of a tiny little red stick-shift truck that really only had room for two. I’m sure in true Dominican fashion that you could fit four in it though. As long as you lock the doors so that no one falls out!
Both of the guys speak a little English, but not much. So, I spoke to them in Spanish most of the time. Once in awhile they would translate a word for me in English and thankfully they were both pretty good about speaking slowly in Spanish to me. However, conversations between each other and other people were faster than the speed of lightening and I was often still trying to figure out the meaning of the first sentence when they had already moved on to a different topic.
All I’ve been able to talk about for the couple of days before the weekend was going dancing. I had been here nearly a week and hadn’t had the opportunity to go dancing yet. When we got to Alberto’s parents house and I was talking about dancing, he told me I could go dancing at the Barber Shop.
Seriously? Dancing at the Barber Shop? This made no sense to me, but apparently it’s normal here. The local barber shops are known for their loud music and dancing.
So, off we went to a Barber shop a few blocks away from Alberto’s house. There were several men there waiting for hair cuts or beard trims, all in a small little shop with only one barber chair. When the three of us arrived, that brought the total to seven people in a room smaller than a spare bedroom.
My friends asked the Barber to put on music and he quickly turned it up loud. The walls were shaking, you couldn’t talk and you could feel the beat through your whole body.
I didn’t understand much of the conversation between all of the locals, but Kelly and Alberto proceeded to explain to them that the ‘rubia’ (blonde girl) wanted to dance. And dance, I did. In the tiny little spot that was free, I danced to my first merengue and bachata songs! Oh I forgot how wonderful it is to dance with locals who also love their music and love to dance! It is so different than dancing at home in Canada at a bar where everyone is just bopping around. Partner dancing is so much fun (at least I think so).
After a few dances, I had thoroughly impressed the locals with the fact that this white girl knew how to dance pretty good! (Thanks Amanda Huska, the instructor for Latin Dance on Friday nights at Pipa and Sunday afternoon at the Seaport Farmer’s Market in Halifax!)
Then came the salsa …. that one didn’t go as well. Unfortunately, come to find out, although many locals here love salsa music, not many of them actually know how to dance salsa!
After the salsa dancing failed, they brought out some musical instruments to play. A cow bell, moroccos and a cheese grater like thing with a stick.
Alberto got a clean shave, we played musical instruments and waited for the torrential rains to stop. Then we headed back out for our next little adventure in the little red truck.