For a while, all I could see was white. On occasion, darts of blue would pierce the condensed air, teasing me with glimpses of the ocean below. When we finally broke the cloud line I could see blue for miles. I watched her ebb and flow against shades of green that I had not even seen in my dreams. As we descended, I could see more colors, more shapes. Roads, villages, trees, and cars were forming before my eyes. The plane jolted when we landed and everyone cheered. I mean, literally, everyone clapped their hands and audibly made noise. The woman next to me smiled and told me that it was tradition to celebrate a safe return to the homeland. All of the objects on the ground blurred again, but only for me. It’s hard to see clearly when your eyes are filled with tears. It’s hard to not let your eyes fill with tears when you finally make it to a place where you love so many people, ones that you already know, and ones that you haven’t yet met.
My last communication with my program coordinator was an email that I sent before I left Indiana on Monday morning. I sent my flight information and said that I would be at the airport at noon on Tuesday. Who was picking me up? How would I find them? Where would I meet them? Details. I was in DR. I would figure it out.
I made my way through the airport, through exchanging dollars for pesos, through lines, and through broken Spanish. A man by the door, Orlando, had a sign with my name on it. We walked to his truck and drove the 83 kilometers between Santo Domingo and La Romana in silence. I would have been fine with stumbling my way through conversation, but he was the quiet type-one of the best qualities a person can have, in my humble opinion. The trip along the ocean, with palm trees, donkeys, bike-taxis, and tiny villages was more than enough to keep my mind occupied.
We pulled up to a house, with seemingly little warning, and got out of the car. We had arrived. Where were we? Whose house was it? Where was any one of the people that I had emailed for the past two months? Details. I was in DR. I would figure it out.
Men were playing dominoes just outside the door. I felt like I was home, the way I feel when I walk down any street in the heights when the temperature is above 70 degrees. Orlando stayed with the Domino men and I walked through the house on my own. A variety of people, involved in a variety of programs through the hospital, were scattered about. None of them knew me. None of them knew were I was staying or where I was supposed to be. None of them knew where my contact people were. They did, however, have internet access, and really, that’s pretty much all you need to figure out most things. I emailed my contacts, told them I was here, that I was tired, that I would be taking a nap at the end of the hallway, and headed off to catch up on the countless hours of sleep that I had missed in the past 5 days. I hadn’t laid down in 36 hours, so my hierarchy of needs had sleep on the top of list.
I woke up to the hustle and bustle of people preparing to eat dinner. My contact person was among them and we finally sat down and met, face-to-face.
As it turned out, I did figure it all out. Getting here was the biggest component of the journey. Being a bit displaced, not being connected, and not knowing anyone were minor details.
I even got a nap out of the confusion.
I am here. It all worked out.