Riding with Strangers in the Dominican 


I was excited about planning for my trip to the Dominican Republic. It had been a few short months since I’d broken up with the love of my life, and I desperately needed to get away from it all.  In fact, running would become my obsession, and me?  I can run fast.  Well, usually.

“Rosalinda.  Yep, that’s what I’m going to call myself until I touch down in the D.R.” I told my girlfriend.  I even took a passport photo with a red flower in my hair–an island tribute to myself.  I couldn’t think of anything more than leaving the country, leaving the LU, escaping him.  The irony of it all is that there was also nothing more that I wanted than to have him along for the experience.  However, we were done, and so was my heart.

Those final 30 days could not pass by fast enough.  At least he was no longer attending classes anymore, but not seeing him on a daily basis was both unsettling and a complete relief.  After all, I couldn’t avoid tears at the sight of those eyes.

The morning of my trip, I was so incredibly tired.  Anticipation had prevented me from having more than an hour of uninterrupted sleep at a time.  The new adventure terrified me, but I could feel a new woman emerging, no longer lying dormant.  She simply wanted out.  What better choice of freedom than the warm, sexy waters and brilliantly refreshing sun of the Caribbean?  Mm hmm.  Stella would redefine her groove altogether.  I was prepared to live, laugh, love, and be naughty as hell!

It had been a month and a half, and I was sitting on the hotel bed, fully dressed.  I stared intensely at the annoyance before me.  To have punched him in the throat for all that whining would have been doing him a favor.  What the hell?  You’re a grown-ass man.  Stop crying about your infected, in-grown hair and take me out on this beautiful town! I silently screamed, my eyes blazing in disgust.  The first night in the D.R.  was in the distant past, and the lustful feeling of “newness” had become totally dependent upon my weekend adventures with Juan.  He was ruining it all with that petty complaining.  Finally, I could not sit there any longer knowing that a beautiful beach was directly across the street from our hotel.  “I’ll be back.”

At the beach, the warm sand felt absolutely amazing against my lukewarm bottom and anxious thighs.  Sigh of greatness.  The beach wasn’t one of those touristy ones, and I longed for an icy cocktail to accompany my beautiful waves and setting sun.  Hell yes!  One thing that I could always count on in the Dominican was the likelihood of a random stranger popping up with cold Presidentes!  Honestly, I would have accepted warm Brugal if the opportunity had presented itself, considering that it might have been the sum of my entire evening’s events.  The bitchy, summer boo was definitely haunting my weekend fun.  Lucky for me, the traveling businessman had both of my delights sitting on ice, so I chose a bit of each.  Delicious but unfortunately, curiosity-inducing.  “Hello, beautiful.”

A sexy but raspy voice surprised me from behind, quickly lifting me from my lying position.  Intrigued, I turned to find quite the pitiful smile staring back at me.  It was wide and…certainly unkissable.  Hissssssss!  “Third world” crossed my mind, but he was my first unlikable set of teeth in almost two months.  What the hell had happened to his island diet is all I could question.  My initial fight or flight response quickly subsided though. He started speaking my language.

“Vas al concierto?” he asked.  “A qué hora? Dónde?”  An outdoor concert up the road was exactly what I needed.

Back at the hotel, Juan was still breast-feeding.  “My leg hurts, and I don’t feel like going anywhere.”  The words cut me down faster than he could finish slobbering on them.  Plus, he was being mean as hell and snapping at my every move.  I couldn’t do it.  Hadn’t I left domestic arguments and negative energy back in Oklahoma?  Wasn’t my number one goal for this summer to enjoy my life to the fullest?  So, it was decided.  I would ride solo with the friendly “yuck-mouth”.  I was going to run from that room full of heat and seek refuge in the coolness of my first outdoor concert near the beaches of Limón.  It was a decision that I’d never forget, and it felt amazingly me–Lannie–a wild and brave, uninhibited lover of new things, new friends, and especially new adventure.  The night was mine to have, and possess it, I would.

When Angél came to pick me up, he had a friend–another male–with him.  I was alone and dressed to do mental harm to any man.  My chariot was a white, pick-up truck.  Seriously?  For the wrong reason, I chose not to ride up front, next to my “non-date”.  This meant that I sat behind both men, locked in place.  My only exit was with the driver or front-seat passenger’s permission.  Had I really just blinded myself with the thirst of having a new experience?  Dumb, so very dumb.  Acknowledging my stupidity too late, I would do my darndest to talk the hell out of them and hope for the best.

I survived!

We pulled up to a huge outdoor party with vendors, stages, loud music, etc.  The scene more than excited my bones.  Angél and Diego had told a gal the dang truth.  Butt-ugly or not, I could continue loving island people as if they were all the very same, sun-kissed souls.  Thank the heavens!  It was time to dance, “libate”, and to live fully.  I was content.

The concert was awesome, but it had grown late.  Abruptly, the party manifested itself as scarce.  My head hinted at dizziness, and my countdown began.  A true party soldier never forgets the drill.  Get home at the first sign of being “too spirited.”  Luckily, I had a ride home.  Wait.  Maybe I shouldn’t ride home with strangers, drunk.  “Lista?” Angél said with a smile.  I frowned, wishing that he could turn into a prince at the end of the night, but at least he had been a gentlemen towards me.

Shit.  The spin was kicking in faster than I wanted. Considering some less favorable events in my past, I thanked Angél and Diego and decided to walk until I got home or found a cab.  They didn’t push too much and I headed home.

Out on the street, it was peaceful and quiet, but I kept asking myself if I was heading downhill or uphill.  Honestly, my danced-out legs and winding thoughts couldn’t be definitive. It was too damn quiet, and it was still, very still.  I paused for a moment to reference where I’d been, and then, it happened.  One of the D.R.’s infamous apagones.

An apagone is not my favorite thing.  I’d been startled by them many times while being out with friends on the street.  Most of the time, we had simply laughed them off.  One of my least favorite ones happened while watching “Man on Fire.”  It was the end of the movie when Denzel was crossing back over the bridge, and we were sitting on the edge of our theater seats not knowing whether he was going to live or die.  BOOM!  Apagone.   I was devastated and literally had to re-watch the entire movie before I could get through the end.

Another memorable apagone happened in beautiful Puerta Plata.  I was on an excursion with four gorgeous, American women.  We were already on the street, just outside of our hotel, headed to party in the city.  While taking photographs, a complete blackout happened, and I swear.  The darkness was so damn thick that it had walls and sound.  The sheer heaviness of it was so loud and suffocating that I could hear my own heartbeat.  We grabbed each other and scrambled like obedient yolks in a cheap pan–struggling to stay together while urged to run for our lives.  It was truly awful, but this night?  On a too quiet street by a beach, growing distant, I would attempt to survive the scariest blackout of all.

“Mami?”  a familiar, raspy voice called in the midst of my inevitable confusion.  “You okay?”

I honestly wouldn’t recall saying “no.” Id never even remember my decision to get into the false chariot that had driven me to the party.  What I would come to know is that, in the middle of a deafening blackout, I climbed back into a pick-up truck with two strange men, seeking safety, clarity, and louder streets.

Are we going downhill or uphill?  Moment of clarity but still dizzy.  I’m in a car with two men.  What am I doing?  Not the naive type, I was quite conscious about the fact that decisions like that could never be smart, but…familiarity had been my haven.  I suppose that I chose what had seemed like life.  Then, it dawned on me to look towards the beach, to look to the moon.  There was light to be received.  However, my eyes kept witnessing darkness.  Was the moon reflecting the black ocean? I felt the truck stop, and I closed my eyes.

It had been an amazing summer for this Oklahoma gal, and I certainly would not complain.  I had lived with the most welcoming host family.  My beautiful doña, Esmeralda Izquierda.  From the first day, she had shown me love, warm hugs and sassy conversation alongside her wonderful, three children.  I could never forget them and had been looking forward to keeping in touch with them.  I’d also made several delightful acquaintances and spent many hours dancing, eating, wandering the city, and laughing indulgently ’til my heart’s content.  The Dominican was a decision better than I could have ever imagined.  How lucky I had been, and my heart had begun to heal.

I was still smiling when the door opened, and Diego said something.  Jibberish.  I immediately pushed my way out even though there didn’t seem to be a need for all of my effort to escape.  I felt a hand.  What’s he doing?  Diego was steadying my stance by my elbow.  Why was it so dark?  I was not a person willing to even carry on a conversation with a face and lips that I couldn’t see, but in that moment, I had had to trust.  I had to believe that they would let me go.  Fear was blinding my focus, and I needed to hear my way through the loud darkness so that I could see.  Clarity.  The opportunity for true safety presented itself.  Go!

I quickly said goodnight to a begging Angél and hurried into the extended darkness.  The hotel was made up of several separate buildings like a small apartment community, but how would I be able to tell which door was my room?  There was no valet, no hotel attendants, no one.  My mind was racing, I couldn’t see, and my heart was beating loudly.  Nevermind thatHow will I be able to tell which building is mine?  Is there no one awake?  I held my breath, remembering the apagone.  There were no minutes to call Juan on my mobile, but I was so close.  No longer spinning, my life began zig-zagging back-n-forth within a box that moved with each of my rapid footsteps.  Fear was everywhere.  To my left was emptiness, to my right–everything dangerous.  My forward adventure was completely unknown and not mine.  My back?  Laden with the uncertainty of longing strangers.  Where is my building?  Did I pass the pool?  Am I about to fall into the pool?  Please lights!  Moon?  Someone give me guidance!  Fuck you, Juan!  Then, something became familiar.  Buildings were in front of me, the pool was on my right?  My room is past the pool!  I began to pick up my pace, not fully seeing but trusting where I would land.  I began reaching for relief!  Then, he grabbed me.

The depth of fear was so intense, it muted my scream and dug directly into my need to flee.  I knew the savage teeth behind that awful, raspy voice.  “Bésame, mami.”  I fought, but his grip was unyielding.  Juan, I can see our building.  “Let go.  No.  Let me go.”  Desperation set in way too early.  I’m losing.  “I like you.  Bésame.”  the voice said.  Just like that, disorientation returned.  I couldn’t connect in the dark, and he had me pulled close, so close.  Lips touched my neck, and I fought with new-found resilience.  How did he see me in this dark?  How could I have been so stupid?  The pool?  How close are we?  I might drown.  Juan!  Please think about me.  I’m so close!  His grip intensified along with the pant of his island-strange voice.  My head spun, and I felt my determination slip a few notches.  I don’t want to lose.  Where is the moon?  The beach?  No one? I couldn’t find myself or see the pool.  My heart was too loud; it stole my awareness to scream.  All I wanted was Langston, Oklahoma and my love, my dear, sweet love.  It was all gone.  I’m losing.  I began to sink.

Out of nowhere, the brightest of heavenly lights blinded me, jolting me back into my skin.  new voice.  I would have loved for it to have been Juan coming to save the day, win my heart, and erase the pain of my adventurous, failed escape.   However, it wasn’t my complaining friend.  It was a security guard.  Yes!   All he said was “Let her go,” and I was freed.  Then, the light turned off.  I scurried forward, directed by the glorious smell of chlorine.  I grabbed for a door, found one and started banging.  I had hoped for a disgruntled, in-grown hair bearing man to quickly open.  However, I would have settled for anyone with an open door.   

Juan!  He opened the door, frowned at my anxious face in disgust, and crawled back to his bed.  I walked straight to the bathroom, dropped to my knees on the cold, tiled floor and cried.  I hadn’t been able to run.  I almost lost it all.



Posted by Sabreena Shouts

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