The Mojito Conversation

Husband and I have been here for almost three years and it never ceases to astound us just how much we do here in one week’s time. 
Yesterday, after work and spending hours at the school playground we made a fast decision to find ourselves seated in front of Cuba’s best invention: the mojito. While Husband’s was a traditional mojito mine had a classic Dominican twist: chinola (passion fruit). 
that’s our car behind me
We sat at an outside table of Roust, a new restaurant in our old ‘hood, with Rafaella and left the car running near us with an unobstructed view of sleepybird, Santiago (He had fallen asleep on the 3-minute car ride to Roust.) As we settled into our seats, our drinks, and the perfect “winter” climate we also settled into our conversation:

“Think about how much we’ve done this week,” I reminisce. 

The Band

Husband recapped, “We’ve logged in at least 10 hours at the playground, went to Story Time at the library with the kids, ate at that delicious bbq rib place with our friends, played volleyball, had band practice, attended a Spanish class, watched a great soccer game, and are now sitting here with afternoon mojitos.”  

“And this has been a slow week…” I reminded adding drama by elongating sloooow. “And we still have the Davis Cup Tennis Tournament on Saturday and Superbowl Sunday.” 

Story Time at the library

“And you have book club tonight,”

“Because you’re not going to basketball.” 

 “We do more here in a week than we ever did in a whole month in New Jersey.” 

He was right. The life we lived in New Jersey bogged down with work and chores and grocery shopping and to-do lists. Any free time during the week was spent happily cozying up to reruns of Law & Order. Saturday was the only day we enjoyed true leisure time and that was also stuffed full of trips to Target and Christening invitations. And as every teacher knows, God gave us Sundays for lesson planning and grading papers.
But life here isn’t like that. A typical day here includes almost as much time playing at the park as working at school. We sit down and eat dinner together and sit at the table long after our meal to talk. Just talk. Husband and I are good at talking.
     
 And then there are the stolen gems, the invaluable things that aren’t necessarily typical, that aren’t “planned” but that always seem to sprout up: the trips to the colmado* (see below for explanation) with at least a dozen people, Friday at the bluffs, the impromptu dinner at ribs (I don’t know the name of the ribs place. we just call it ribs. An outdoor tented area, plastic table and chairs kind of joint that cooks up ribs something special. For the amount of dive this place gives off visually you’ve never had ribs this good. So good I’ve mentioned it twice in this post.)
I look over at Rafa who has picked up another of my traits and she’s dancing at the table as she eats her onion ring and drinks her chinola juice. When I dance along, throwing her a Jersey fist pump, she flings her head back in laughter. The waiter comes to take our plates and she looks at him and says, “Cuidado (careful),” – her newest understanding of a word and its concept. Santiago has also since woken up and is now sitting on Husband’s lap eating his mango. (We live in a place where our kids eat mangoes that they’ve picked up from the playground and where coconuts spot the grass like polka dots on the shirt that I’m wearing.) 
I sit there across from Husband taking in the Caribbean air that flows generously in January reminding me that this season is the reason that people live here. This temperature is divine. 
Is this why we do so much more? Is it the sun? Is it the lifestyle? Is it the culture?
I can’t answer that. 
Oh… no, not because I don’t know the answer but because it’s time to get to the colmado*
Colmado Fridays. Colmado o’clock. 
It’s 5:00 somewhere, right Jimmy?
*colmado – the Dominican institution where friends gather to play dominoes, talk yell talk loudly, and drink Presidentes so cold – due to the special refrigerators set at sub zero temperatures – that even on the hottest days one sip is enough to cool you down. (synonyms might include bodega, cornerstore) 


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