I went to school as normal, and then afterwards I went into Zona Colonial with Bridgitte to look at apartments. It was Bridgitte's birthday so we were really hoping to find something for her as a great birthday present. She has been looking all over town for an apartment with a big balcony, and she found this apartment that is basically a balcony with rooms. She loved it and decided to take it. She moved in over the weekend. After that she, JP, and I went out for a few drinks at this restaurant by the ocean and then for a few more at a colmado. I think Bridgitte had a really good birthday and when she came home she found a present outside her door that JP had left for her. It was a basket of delicious foodstuffs. That boy is so thoughtful.
JP took a job at the school! He is going to be a permanent substitute, and he is going to be filling in for a third grade teacher for 3 months while she is out on maternity leave. For now he will just be subbing for different teachers around the school. He signed the contract on Friday and immediately began work. We had a half day of school for the kids, so they were wilder than normal for a Friday, but we had a good class in Language Arts and then in our shortened Social Studies class we discussed 9/11 and the impact that it had on them and their families which went better than I ever could have expected. After the kids left all the staff stayed to work, and I didn't get as much as I wanted to done because I spent a good deal of my time talking to my roommates, so I think that I will be staying later than I would like this week. After school I rushed home to pack a bag, talked to Alex, and got in a taxi to go to the beach. This whole week we were planning on going to this city called Constanza, but then Friday afternoon we realized that the bus left at 3 and we got out of work at 2:45, so we just went to the bus station to pick something when we got there. We packed beach clothes. Things like this make me love life. We got to the bus station and aided by Lonely Planet and the information desk we decided to go to a city called Sosua. We got on the bus at around 6 and took off for the beach. We stopped somewhere to pick up more passengers and JP, Doug, and Stacy got off to buy food and use the bathroom and the bus pulled away and almost left them but finally heard me and another guy on the bus shouting to the driver. When we got to the city we overpaid for a cab ride, booked a room, promptly found bugs in the bed, unchecked out, searched for a new hotel, got lost, overpaid for another cab ride which took us back to where we started, finally got to the hotel we were looking for and realized that it was no longer operational. By this time it was about 11:30 at night. We wandered down the road and found another hotel, but it was too expensive. We found another one that was just right (get the goldilocks reference?) and we stayed there finally. Once we got settled in our rooms we went out by the pool and played cards for a little while, and went to get some food (curry sausage at a German restaurant at 1 a.m. very weird but delicious). While we were out we started to notice an inordinate number of scantily clad women. After watching them for awhile we started to realize that these women were finding men that they seemed not to know, sitting at their tables, laughing overly hard at their jokes with their heads thrown back, haggling over prices, and then leaving with them. These women were prostitutes! And not only were there prostitutes out that night, but we were the only people who were neither prostitutes or men looking for prostitutes. There were so many prostitutes that we were getting weird looks for being so out of place. This was going on at every bar all along the main road of the town. It was so strange I didn't even know what to think, so after sausage and a good hour or so of people watching we went home to bed.
We all slept in on Saturday morning and then went down to the beach. We stopped at the non-operational hotel which was a functioning restaurant overlooking the water and had a delicious breakfast. We went down to the water and booked a little snorkeling tour (Stacy and I had bought snorkeling equipment on the way down to the beach) and rented an umbrella. We swam around for about a half an hour in the most amazingly clear water that I have ever seen and then got into a glass-bottomed boat and went out to a small coral reef. We got in the water and swam around for an hour looking at beautiful fish and coral while our guide fed the fish in order to encourage them to swarm around us. This was admittedly a little inauthentic but very cool and much appreciated. After that we went back to the beach and splashed around for awhile and laid under our umbrella. When the sun set we sat on the deck of the same restaurant where we ate breakfast, The Waterfront, and had drinks and appetizers. It was a pretty perfect afternoon. We went home after that, took showers, and then went to eat dinner at a restaurant across the street where we spent the vast majority of the time trying to figure out if our waitresses were prostitutes and if the overly friendly chef was a pimp. For some reason they were speaking to us in English so I do not think they realized we could understand the heated prostitute/pimp argument they got into 20 feet from our table which confirmed our suspicions. After dinner we went back for awhile, chatted by our pool, met a guy from North Carolina who was working in the Virgin Islands and no doubt in Sosua for the sex trade, saw and old man and a scantily clad young woman come back to the hotel and then leave again 45 minutes later, and decided maybe it was time to leave. We went out to a bar where we almost immediately received our bill, a surefire sign here that they wish you would leave, people-watched for awhile, and then went back home to bed. Before we did Doug, Stacy and I decided to walk down to the beach. We stood there for a minute, realized the beach at night in this city was probably not a good idea, and then turned around and almost tripped over a sleeping homeless man that we hadn't seen on the way in. We decided that the day had been eventful enough and we decided to turn in for the night.
In the morning we went to the beach and swam for awhile, I read the Agatha Christie book that I stole from the hotel, and then we ate a delicious breakfast (more prostitute people watching) and checked out of the hotel. The bus ride back was about 4 1/2 hours, and when we got back we went to the store, JP came to my house to pick up some stuff, and he went back to his. This was one of the more eventful and interesting weekends of my life. On one hand it was a really tranquil weekend at one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been with great company, and on the other it was a social research project on prostitution. Seemingly an incompatible mix it made for a great weekend.