As the holiday season remains in high gear, singer-songwriter Rachael Yamagata conquers her fears.
No more suffering!
Hey folks. Happy Happy Holidays! This is the feel good blog to even out the weepy one before it! I hope everyone is wearing the weight of loose ends well and getting ready for some quality family, friends, relaxation, reflection and all that time.
I've gone and done something impulsive and have planted myself in the Dominican Republic for a month. I've a couple of Spanish phrase books, my record mixes, and a lot of free time. I have decided I'm one lucky *$#@tard and I'm going to soak it in for every mom at home with three kids out there. I will do you justice and appreciate this time I swear! It took a minute for the staff to comprehend that I journeyed here solo, but I'm settling in and should be tending bar by the end of my stay.
Ok...so I've now been here for 10 days I think? Have been riding horses almost everyday through mountains, forests and on the beach...The guides here don't care so much for your safety – or rather, don't think of it, so it's pretty much duck when there is a tree, hold on when you are on the beach (horsey go byebye) and pray if there's a car. Yes, I've since ridden on roads, paths and sea so far – fallen into the sea (don't drink and ride). Have often ventured out alone with guide so he takes me to the back roads and we end up on someone's front porch drinking cervesa and watching chicken fights.
I've stepped on one sea urchin so far, but didn't notice till days later when my foot started hurting and then discovered a bunch of friggin quills in my heel... Alas, it did not stop me from walking 4 miles to Sosua today – where the best beaches are – to find some new friends and go swimming.
They warn you of the drivers here. Really it's not so bad if you've ever driven in NYC, but they do pass on the left and the right, and cars are weaving in and out with trucks and motorcycles. I walked against traffic and figured I'd be alright, but had to duck into bushes everytime a moto passed. It's wonderful for one's self esteem, for I do believe I was honked at at least a dozen times and maybe 8 motorists pulled over to offer a ride. I prefer not to think it had anything to do with the fact that my tube top support was not as supportive as I had hoped. The great thing about clearly being American is that when they stop I can just feign language confusion and say things like "no puedo, ma gracias" and "necisito perche yo grande" as in "I must walk cuz I'm fat" – there's no ability on my part to say "well, I'm not fat, I just want to be in shape cuz touring takes so much out of you and really I prefer to walk and no I'm not a whore because of my clothing" etc. You just say a couple of verbs, smile and go on your way.
I've taken many steps to overcome fears on this trip. If you are a reader of my blogs, you know of my whole "eating alone" thing...Well, I'm not only eating alone, but doing everything else one does alone as well. And I'm loving it...Very empowering. However, there are the dogs...I run this little path near the place I'm staying and for some reason I tend to pick up dogs...los perros...there are strays everywhere. Seriously though, I run and come back with four of them. It's happened three times now. They just come with me and by the time I return the staff has to shoo them away lest they follow me to my room. Go figure the way the subconscious life mirrors outside reality.
I've also taken to the ocean quite well. My childhood paranoia with sharks is dissipating. I swam a mile and a half out with two new friends and did not have a panic attack. There is something about swimming with others that gives you a brilliant sense of assurance that they will most definitely be eaten before you; leaving you just enough time to swim away.
Spanish is going well – I've only announced myself pregnant once and I somehow said "Eat me" to the bartender, but he was kind enough to explain that I wasn't quite saying "you are like me" in the best way possible. The staff here are kind and helpful and make the best fish a girl could wish for. I held a chicken today as well and got a nice photo, but I fear it holds the same fate as the fish. Hypocrite I remain.
So it's been a beautifully untraditional holiday I must say. I recommend it to anyone. The whole biz of discovering who you are on your own in a new place – it's worth it to find out if you can get the time and find a way. I relish the discovery that I seem a book reading, dog followed, inarticulate, pregnant, horseback riding, shark evading drunk. Onwards and upwards for the new year.
Posted by Rachael Yamagata
The Time Machine
Wednesday, December 27, 2006 at 11:34
I thought of you today when I was swimming offshore about a half mile (I cheated...I had swim fins...they keep me out in the ocean longer...longer for the sun to use the ocean on your back as a magnifying lens...sunburn...ouch). I'm proud of you for fighting your fear of sharks. I looked at my friends snorkeling on each side of me feeling that barrier of safety of being in the middle like an oreo cookie. All my life I've lived here but still have skin so white that I will always be called "shark bait" upon hitting the ocean. *lol
"There is something about swimming with others that gives you a brilliant sense of assurance that they will most definitely be eaten before you; leaving you just enough time to swim away".
This is why I was in the middle. :)
Thanks for the laughter and find a tube top that fits!
Rachael's music has had a home on our playlists and in our hearts since her debut release. Be sure to pick up a copy of her first album, "Happenstance" and keep an eye peeled out for Rachael's upcoming release. You can get a sampling of what she's been up to lately at her website www.rachaelyamagata.com