Come to the Other Side



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I’ve been in a bad mood lately. I ranted on Lonely Planet about the buzz word “eco-friendly” after I recommended Finca Mystica as an eco-friendly place to stay. A poster checked out my link to Finca Mystica and commented that Finca Mystica didn’t seem to be eco-friendly because it didn’t have composting toilets and solar power. I responded, “I am sure that you can find many eco-friendly locals who would be glad to let you use their outhouse and they may even throw in a cheap chicken coop for your eco-friendly visit.”

Not very nice of me. I attribute my bad mood to the motorcycle accident we had on the way up the steep, rocky road to Finca Mystica. Our bike stalled halfway up their driveway. Ron always told me not to put my feet down…and I listened like a good rider. The bike tipped over and I landed in a pile of rocks. Fortunately, I landed on the fattest part of my body, so no broken bones. Unfortunately, I have a gigantic bruise on my backside in an array of colors.

Poor me! Ron is rolling his eyes as I write. “Always get back on the horse,” he said. “Maybe someday, but never to the other side of the island again,” I threatened. The road was recently paved to Balgue, but not to Mérida, where Finca Mystica is located. As soon as we took the Y in the road to the right and the pavement ended, I knew I was in trouble. “Just let me walk,” I pleaded as we bumped and swerved to miss the rocks springing up like weapons of mass destruction planted to warn eco-friendly tourists that paradise comes with sacrifice.

Finca Mystica is a beautiful place. Ryan and Angie were awesome hosts, but my visit was tainted with my fear of getting back on the horse to get to the other side of the island the next day. I refused. Norman, their local taxi driver shuttles people back and forth three times a day. “How do you travel this road three times a day, Norman? Don’t you get shaken baby syndrome from the constant rattling and jostling? How long does it take you to make one round trip? How many tires do you have to replace in a week?”

I discovered the answers to my questions when Norman took me home the next day. I left with Norman at 8:30 am and he dropped me off at a friend’s house in Mérida. We spent a few pleasant hours visiting, walked to a restaurant and ate delicious grilled fish, then Norman picked me up at the restaurant to deliver me in comfort…or so I thought… home. Just a few minutes away from the restaurant, my stomach began to gurgle. “Hmmm,” I thought. “I hope I don’t have to find a bathroom quickly.”

Every bump in the road caused me to panic. Not only was I worried about my stomach cramps, I was sitting on my swollen and bruised butt. “Norman, how long will it take us to get to La Paloma?” I asked with trepidation. He said that we should be there in about an hour. First, we had to stop and look at a piece of land for sale in Mérida. A new friend of mine wanted to see the land before Norman dropped her off in Balgue. I sat impatiently in the car for 30 minutes listening to my stomach rumble and groaned with each impending stomach cramp.

An hour later, after getting lost, picking up several passengers and dropping them off in Santo Domingo, we were finally on our way to the other side of the island…home, sweet, home.  I sighed in relief, until a fellow walking along the side of the road whistled at us to stop. A flat tire! I jumped out of the car and rushed to the closest bathroom, which happened to be a little cement cubicle at the tire repair guy’s house. It wasn’t an eco-friendly outhouse. Thank God for a flush toilet! But, there was no water in the tank.

Ten minutes later, I sheepishly exited the cement block enclosure, thanked the family gathered around the cubicle, and prayed that they would put water in the tank to flush it without looking at the contents. I heard them laughing as we pulled away with the newly inflated tire. Near the La Paloma airport, my cramps intensified. “I can hold on,” I told myself. “We’re almost home.” And then came the ominous hissing. Another flat tire.

“Norman, I can walk home from here,” I said. “No,” he replied like a Sandinista soldier firing an order, ” I will fix the tire and take you to your house!” With no bathroom in sight, I hastily made my way to a sparsely clad bush vacated by twin calves….a very eco-friendly move.  Another 30 minutes passed, along with much grunting and groaning and we were finally home. Ron was waiting for me at the door. Rushing to our flush toilet, I gave thanks for running water and a plump cushion of fat that protected me from a disastrous trip to the other side of our eco-friendly island. Come to the other side? It will be a long time or at least until the road is paved before I make that trip again!