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Published: June 27th 2019
Monday June 24, 2019 - The school came to a close with a couple very busy weeks. First there was a week of exams, with a lot of grading and report writing. Next for me was a week in the Vosges in France hiking and camping with the Duke of Edinburgh students. Not much down time there. Back at school afterwards there was Sports Day, two days of classes, and the last day of school which included an hour and a half ISB Idols talent/variety show that my student council puts on. They do such a great job and it went extremely well, but by the end I was exhausted, and not just from the teacher dance in the show. Friday we finished up cleaning up our classrooms and had a staff bbq. I spent the weekend still making reservations for my trip - the last two weeks are still unaccounted for - and packing. I was pretty sure on Sunday I could pack in about an hour. Then I thought I’d have it done by noon. At 6pm, I hoped it would be done by 8pm. And it was. Pretty much. Somehow, no matter how much I travel, it never
gets easier. I feel unorganized and unplanned, and I’m always sad to leave. Jeroen has time off this summer as he changes job, but he has decided he does not want to fly anymore, so he will not be joining me on this trip. It would have made it more fun to have him there, but I’m looking forward to the experience anyway, despite being sad to leave.
Today I woke up at 5am and said goodbye to Jeroen and the cats at 6am. I took the tram to the train station, bought a ticket to Zurich airport, and got on the next direct train. My flight was a little delayed and we missed our flight plan, so they had to make a new one, but we didn’t get in to Newark too much later than expected. And since I had a 17 hour layover, it didn’t really matter for me either way. I was tired when I arrived, having sat down for 8 hours watching four movies. I saw On the Basis of Sex (very good), Bohemian Rhapsody (interesting), How to train your dragon 3 (very good), and The Favourite (weird). I was in row 42 of about
45 rows, and only made it to the bathroom once, as I was trapped at the window. There was a line for the bathroom that was longer than it had to be, as it turned out the woman in the front of the line did not realize there were two toilets and one was open the whole time, and one was busy the whole time. Finally someone coming from the other direction pointed it out.
After I got sorted out at the airport, I had to grab a shuttle to the Marriott where I would be waiting out my long layover. I had originally considered sleeping in the airport itself. No. Then I booked a cheap hotel with a free shuttle, but that probably would have been gross. Then a friend of a friend offered me points to stay at the airport Marriott. Amazingly kind. Thank you Heather! I’m not a huge fan of hotels. They all feel the same and just not like me. But the bed was comfy and it was convenient to have. I was pretty tired after I chatted with Jeroen and tried to make a decision about what to eat for dinner. I didn’t
feel like a burger and ordering a pizza seemed daunting and then mall shuttle seemed too much effort. In the end I did get a pizza, and I ordered a huge one. Five minutes in America and I’m eating like an American. It was lunch and dinner, so I thought it seemed like a good idea. I had 3 of 8 pieces at 5pm and watched a couple tv shows. I missed the whole season of most of my shows last year due to life, so I’ve brought them with me to see if I can catch up this summer. At 7:30pm I went to sleep. I had to be awake at 3:30am, so it seemed like a good idea and I was beat. It was already 1am in Basel.
Tuesday June 25 - I slept well, but only until midnight. Then I was mostly awake with a mind that would not settle until I got up at 3am. Maybe I should have been keeping up with my meditation. Damn. I packed up, emailed, ate a slice of pizza, packed the rest and left on the hotel shuttle at 4am. Security and all was pretty ok. This time I
did not get stopped, extra checked or felt up. Unusual, but it seemed like a good sign. I was wrong.
We boarded the flight, and then we were delayed. For three and a half hours, due to thunder and lightning in Newark. I was sitting next to two small boys traveling alone. They were nice and cute but the younger one started to get whiney and bored after a while. His brother was very good with him, but it didn’t help much. I tried to share my pizza with them, but they were not impressed with my “kitchen sink” toppings and declined. I had eaten a piece at 3am and proceeded to eat the other four pieces during the flight. I may never want pizza again. The boys were eventually moved closer to the front - to economy plus! - and I was left with three seats to myself in the back. Not so bad really. I spent the time reading and watching Moana, which I love. It may not be the Caribbean, but it still got me excited about islands again. I’ve realized this is my third summer in a row of 5-6 weeks of islands. Might have
to change it next year. Like maybe even just staying in and sleeping all day. Now that would be something new.
In the DR, passport control was easy. No chatting, just fingerprints. There was no tourist card to buy. I’m hoping I didn't miss something. My taxi driver was waiting for me and drove me to my airbnb. My room was like one meter from the loudest street ever, which I was a little concerned about. A Swiss girl that I met before bed was staying in the room next to me. What are the chances? I chatted briefly with Jeroen once I got settled but he was watching Netherlands vs Japan in the women’s world cup. My host is named Luz and she is a retired teacher and has four young granddaughters - all of whom were there. Her daughters have cool jobs - ballet dancer, doctor and psychologist. She talked my ear off, all in Spanish, before I made my escape to look around town. I wandered around and saw the oldest cathedral in the Americas, as well as the ruins of the oldest hospital. I went to the Plaza de Independencia and the Plaza de España.
Christopher Columbus seems to be a favorite here. I met Jorge, a tour guide who walked around telling me facts until I told him he was welcome to walk with me, but that we had not agreed to a tour and I could not pay. Despite being my best bed, he shook my hand and walked away at that point. I was going to get dinner before heading home, but I was still not hungry. Was it all the pizza? Instead I got a mango and had that back at the house. The mango was only like 30 cents. And there were at least 5 varieties in the grocery store. I would have gotten all of them, but I got the only ripe one. I’m sure there will be more along the way. I ate mine while Luz talked some more. Luckily she did not need me to talk back. Afterwards I headed to bed and stayed up all the way until 9:30pm! Jetlag begone.
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