A call in the Dunces’ Land
Punta Cana day one
My most revered guardian,
In spite of, or because of, the conspicuous overestimation I have of my own free spirit, I often surprise myself to be as stupid as anybody else. We are the PEOPLE and carry foolishness in our genes. It does not matter that I never bought any viscous good will pretensions, starting with the shy recommendations in the Hammurabi’s code from the XVIII cent. BCE to protect the widow and the orphan (wishful thinking!) and ending with the giant correct masquerade of the O-baba agreement cum understanding from 2015 paying the mullahs to do atomic peace-balls a little bit later (total delusion!). To come back to me the bottom line is that when an error is to be made, I am appallingly rushing in.It was a vicious combination between my innocuous infatuation with the past and inefficient information which led me to one of the most idiotic points of earth, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. A previous voyage in the French Antilles left me with superb souvenirs and the sharp desire to go to La Española had ancient roots. Here is about where the things began.
After that the Conjurer, that being my beloved mother, put me into a reading rocket I quickly gathered some thousand personal heroes. Some of them real and some fictional, 100% percent apparently dead and 97% percent males! I adore women and I do not fancy men too much, but the “XX” set was quite small. I remember Jeanne d’Arc, Lady Godiva, splendid anatomy, Judith dragging Holopherne capitulum by the mane, Grazia Deledda, I am the only person alive who recalls her, Isadora Duncan, Cornelia Gracchus, La Pasionaria who got her son executed by Stalin without a whimper or a sharp Mae West – who asked the partner while dancing during prohibition era : “Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?” …Well great time! Now, my heroes’ line was frontally settled. I saw all of them at once. If I made a discrete invite one or two were stepping out of the ranks for a talk: Ghenghis Khan, Achilles, Tarzan, the Marco Polo the super liar, Edinson and Humphry Davy, Jerry Owens, Pasteur, Mozart and Leonardo, Napoleon and Jack London, Buster Keaton and Alexander the Great, Ray Sugar Robinson and Paganini, Sinbad, Richard Lionheart and the Cardinal Richelieu, Captain Cook and Peter the Great, Houdini…I hated them! They will live forever in some people’s memory, at least till the achievement of the IMMIGRATION era, while I will die anonymously, you too, like flotsam on a lonely shore. One of them I was often calling upon was that big trickster, gigante imbroligone, Christopher Columbus, or probably CRISTOFORO COLOMBO, the world most famous pigeon born in Genova and in 19 other places and who died officially, as don Cristobal Colon in Spain. It was for him that I went to Santo Domingo the first piece of the New World continents on which he laid his cleaved hoof in 1492 (he will be desacralized soon in US by the CORRECTS for untimely misbehavior) and christianized it – La Española.To tell that already in 1507 the continent he discovered is called in Waldseemuller map America after Amerigo Vespuccia a later explorer? Foxy Columbus managed to pass away the previous year and spared to himself an extra broken heart!
How this foreign miser, not very young, with a shadowy past, some adulterine bonds and unknown previous endeavors got to convince that single minded, prudish iron lady, Isabella of Castile with his phantasmagorical mettle and a controversial map (at the best inexact) that he was able to find a new way to India and to its fabulous riches flabbergasted me. The queen, Isabel la Catolica, who kicked Jews and Muslims out of Spain like flea after plucking them WELL before and kept her own husband at bay, not one millimeter above her!! by written agreement, believed and supported him. And he found for her and for the Crown something that was something else than what he thought and never found the light to acknowledge his mistake till the end of his wick. Add to that twelve years of amazing adventures (including once coming back to Spain in chains, what MADE the Queen cry and concomitantly determined NOT to put him back in saddle!), some illegitimate children and some four last years of spiritual enlightenment, and you will agree that it was more than enough to inflame the imagination of an eight years old boy.
I arrived in Punta Cana without knowing that I would land in the largest and ugliest TOURIST FACTORY I ever was. Ignorance equals imbecility in most of the cases, beginning with mine. The determinations were the price of the flight, of the accommodation and its nearness to the beach, The owner of sorts, Vance, was waiting for me at the airport exit. Bad omen! He was an american, big, fat, hairy with bad teeth, engineer he said and 7 children from three women. The fourth one, ghost like, much younger, eventually local, too flat to procreate made coffee for me the next morning. The Silver Sands joint was a four stories building raised on three sides of a not very inviting mini pool. The flat was not bad and had a real kitchen near to it. I began to fantasize a fish and sea food continuous orgy. I even quickly emitted an enthusiastic report on Trip Advisor. Fools are always hasty. The morning, I arrived night time, I made some important discoveries. The sky was beautiful, the vegetation luxuriant, the garbage scattered at random and intense, the maintenance the big problem of lower range hotels, the big condominiums near by for people to finish their life with doctor, gym and professional companion more than half empty, the restaurants close to shore expensive, the food more than mediocre, the souvenirs market, an endless handicrafts world – aggressive, the wide sandy beach decorated with elegant palms trees – romantic and the sea of a delirious blue color to drive crazy many Yves Klein.
And then I got an ecstatic feeling. The delirium was elsewhere. Some hundred to two hundred meters from the subtle foam line a grotesque and fascinating landscape of a crowd of antediluvian whales wrecked here and there on earth hit me in the eye and in the mind. Huge caserns, disguised in palaces, some boasting kind of Louis the XIVth pretense and others, children of the American Palladian dream emerged from some scarce, confuse and artificial palm groves. A triple Olympic size swimming pool and giant open walls wooden restaurants cum bar at midway between ottoman kiosks and Texan saloons were lying on the ground like bored medusae in the immediate vicinity of each architectural extravaganza. A fairly wide expanse of heavy labored sand looking like after the rush of a herd of wild colts was strewn with astonishingly sparse long chairs and a set of armed guards. I was disturbed by the shortage of prime bodies. Probably they were indulging into local cocktail religion or taking a catamaran ride to meet some sponsored dolphins. So that was a private beach. Private but amputated. Even in the era of triumphant capitalism the access to the sea should be done through the holy stripe of the common users, some 20 meter wide, like it or not (except if you are in a communist military dictatorial paradise, where the free stripe had some holes of national interest).
Who were the people living in such promiscuity, in poor cultural wretchedness, canned in those horrible corrals of el todo incluso ? WHO ARE THE DUNCES WHO CHOSE A PRISON TO RELAX? A flat fee for whatever you can dream? Do they include also human flesh? I bet, it isn’t in the menu..Once they had also free alcohol supply in the rooms I heard…or was it a hoax? They must be well off, the upper middle class, executive, vendors and merchants, doctors and lawyers, old retired, eventually politicians, scientists….. …the up of the line suite should run into 300 to 350 US bucks by night…But to renounce to any personal initiative? To any contact with the vernacular? To put on hold politically correct ideas and blossom behind the armed guards shield? They are the new aliens of the mass tourism? No, they are not new, 60 years ago 5 million over pretentious French stock were going to the 200 kilometers long Costa Brava, hip to hip and thigh against thigh …They were already tight and they became tighter, even denser, that is all…
And then the Holy George, who dwells in the neighboring Grenada, emerged from the ground, or fell from sky, I do not exactly remember, demon like, in his shining armor and feathered helmet, grandiose and angry and began shouting at me.
“Shut up you miserable old sinner. First of all you do not have the dough to offer to yourself such a smart and clean accommodation, with 24 hours room service, you know what I mean, so there may be some jealously under your intellectualist pretentious wrinkled skin. Check it out before inconsiderately yelping. Learn that hotels and the posh tourism are keeping this country alive. 10 million people live here and near to two million irregular Haitians. Dominican Republic has the highest economic growth in the area. PEOPLE opportunities you won’t gather around like fallen apples, you have to come with them, stocked in your mind, will and genes, when you land in life. So the locals do the best with what they have….Do you want them to build amazing industries?? ha!ha! like the progressive Cubans did and alight into mass prostitution?”And believe me, my revered patron, the Holy G. made a villain gesture, disappeared and left me crestfallen.
I was ready to become terminal of shame shouldn’t I have had seen in the same moment a flying ship with people and wings high above the bay. Of emotion I lost the rest of brains I still had after the argument with the Holy G. and I began to fumble with my camera. Did you even tried to photograph against an open sky something that moves quickly? You must be a champ. I felt like a chimp. The scene brought me back seventy years ago when I became enchanted with Russian fairytale “The Flying Ship”. There the lazy-bones, feeble-minded Ivan, a dear great hearted one, overcomes the nasty big brothers, gets the ship and the princess in prime. I spoke of that to
Vance but the man was too opaque. I began to hesitate and packed the souvenir…Only two weeks later, already in the US, I squeezed out of my camera the proof that I was not totally dreaming. Thank you so much my revered patron for managing to compensate my disappointment and stepped forward with a first quality real wonder, A FLYING SHIP, flying high , AT PUNTA CANA, even if it reached me a posteriori.
With infinite respect,