I leaned back deeper into the comfort of my seat in an attempt to escape the discomfort of my surroundings. My wife sat on my left, staring quietly out the window deep in thought. I looked as well. Images of extreme poverty and contentment came and went in short bursts on the other side of the glass. People smiling, sitting, engaging in conversation, some waving at the bus as it barreled by, on a backdrop of forestry and dirt, half rubbled homes made of stone resembling something abandoned. Some had no roof. No one seemed concerned. They were mostly still in the moments they came into view. Any activity they were engaged in made sure to mind the unavoidable sun and penetrating heat. Sitting was activity enough here. I thought to myself how beautiful these images were, like being exposed to thousands of works of art, shuffling through landscapes and reality, each second another portrait. The beauty of their simplicity and the sorrow of their content had a profound impact on me. I wanted to be with them. They seemed greater than me, closer to God, their connection to truth undisturbed by the ills of my civilization; wifi signals and monitors, malls, paved roads and self-entitlement. They were closer to pain and struggle, to work and reward. The colours of their drapes or the cleanliness of their shoes were far down the list of priorities for the day. Food and shelter were still only barely attainable. We were on our way to a resort in Samana. Even in that moment of connection to these people, just several feet away, my existence in the bus greatly contrasted theirs. I had a blanket draped over my legs to combat the air conditioning. Drinks were being served. The man to my right hadn’t glanced out his window once. He wore khaki shorts and a skin tight vest, both the size for a man without self esteem issues. The female seated next to him matched his aura. She complained about needing to use the bathroom, hopelessly trying to convince her traveling partner to have a word with the bus driver. Maybe she was expecting a hero of her boyfriend, demanding the bus stop now, in the middle of hunger and poverty in order to ask one of the nice people outside to use their facilities. I was certain she expected a toilet and working hydro. Regardless, the Spanish-speaking driver would NevR have let this happen, even if anyone did care to ask on her behalf. Another Dominican man stood next to the driver, watching over the antics of his passengers. It was his job to rouse them. “You can not have one drink on this bus”. He struggled through the English pronunciation. “You must have two drinks”. The punchline. The man to my right responded with no words, hooting and whistling. He raised his green, glass beer bottle, allowing  cold and appetizing drips to run down the surface while the drink foamed over. I glanced back out the window at something inspiring and knew I was going to walk through a village like this one with my wife at the first opportunity we were given on this trip. I was on my way to a resort with unlimited food and alcohol, maids and servants making every effort to make me feel as though I had not left home. I knew then, barely scratching the surface of our trip, that me and the man to my right were going on two completely different vacations. We were going to leave with contrasting ideas about our visit. Our separate paradigms and outlooks would NevR allow us to be in the same place, even when side by side. Both visiting Samana; I was seeking a new land and experience, he was seeking luxury and paradise, and we were both going to find what we were looking for here. Just then my wife escaped her trance and sat forward, turning her head in my direction. A gentle smile and calm expression masked her deepest thoughts. “Anywhere I go, as long as I’m with you, I’m home”. I think she was referring to my epiphany.


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