In the morning, we feasted on pancakes, scrambled eggs, bananas, fresh air, and sunshine. I decided that the mild headache that I had awakened with probably signified allergies more than altitude sickness and determined not to worry about it. The swaying pines beckoned me into the pool of light on the front porch, where I sat to soak up the soothing radiance along with another chapter from the book of Isaiah.
While sitting there, I noticed large hooks anchored in the walls and pillars in several places. Thoughtfully, I took a closer look at them, including grasping one with both hands and attempting to remove it. Scorning my feeble efforts, the hook effortlessly lifted my feet from the ground and held me suspended. Just as I had hoped…
The nylon hammock that Ben had come across in the game cabinet yesterday unpacked easily, exposing a sturdy loop at either end. I slipped one of them over a hook in a pillar and headed across the porch with the other one, only to discover that even with the hammock stretched taut, a gap of about 6 inches remained between the loop and the hook in the wall.
Ben wandered onto the porch right about then and caught me standing there serving as the other support for this hammock and looking perplexed. I showed him my dilemma. He recalled seeing a nylon strap in the drawer with the hammock, which I retrieved. After I snapped the ends of its plastic buckle together, the strap formed a loop of about 10 inches. The length was sufficient to span the aforementioned gap, but not long enough to allow the bright nylon material to relax into an appealing or even readily accessible arc.
Determination convinced me, though, that I could find some way to climb up there. While my brain worked on that challenge, I wrapped my arms around the hammock and leaned backwards to verify the stability of the current configuration. My brain quickly dropped its previous task when it noticed that the incoming data from the stress test fell outside the expected safety parameters. I was just starting to translate the complex physical/neural/cerebral/emotional response into the words “Maybe this isn’t such a good idea…” when I heard the hollow snap of the plastic buckle separating. I had the presence of mind to retain my hold on the cloth until gravity finished dragging me across the concrete floor. Then I scrambled to my feet, already absorbed in a mental scavenger hunt for a suitable hammock extension.
My next attempt involved the drawstring from our laundry bag. When I hung the cord from one of the hooks and leaned backwards, it stretched waaaaaay too much, but by the time I had finished weaving the single strand into a braid, it was waaaaaay too short. I went back upstairs to continue the search, and returned with two more possibilities: a carry-on bag that had a metal ring on either end and the belt from my robe.
One tentative tug on the bag eliminated it from the running. That left the 2-inch wide, soft, fuzzy, cloth belt. When I hung that from one of the hooks and leaned backwards, its stubborn refusal to yield was both surprising and promising. I suspected, however, that if I simply tied the ends together into a knot and then spent hours constricting said knot with a force equal to the effect of gravity on my hundred-and-some pounds, I would very likely never be able to separate the ends again, rendering the belt useless for its original purpose. To avoid that undesired result, I tied a stopper knot in each end of the belt and then lashed the ends together with the braided cord from the laundry bag.
It WORKED! Not only did the hammock hang securely, but it also hung at a level that made entering and exiting possible without embarking on a perilous gymnastic adventure. As an added precaution, I dragged one of the huge outdoor seat cushions over and placed it directly under the hammock. Then I carefully climbed in and settled down, keeping a close eye and ear on the jury-rigged hanger. Eventually, my attention broke away from the tether and drifted to the gentle swaying of my partial cocoon, the soothing whisper of wind behind the cheerful exclamations of birds, and the vast expanse of beautiful, rugged terrain that appeared before me during the occasional, brief opening of my eyelids.
After a lunch of leftover beans and rice, fried chicken, and the remainder of the chocolate chip cookies, we sat on the porch talking about theology and related topics for awhile. When I grew tired of sitting still, I wandered up and down the steep yard.
One of the things that I had brought with me to the Dominican Republic was a field guide to their birds. In Esperanza, had I identified two kinds: the palmchat, the national bird of the D.R.; and the beautiful hispaniolan woodpecker, which I had hoped the most to see. In Constanza, I had the pleasure of identifying many more, including a hummingbird.
Jared and Jessica both wanted to climb the hill again. This time, Celia and Arianna went with them, along with the same dog that tagged along yesterday. They began their trek later in the day than before… when they returned, Ben and I were busy trying to calculate how much longer it would be before dark and if we should plan on going out to meet them with flashlights!
This evening, I was finally granted a privilege I had been asking for since we arrived – to help make a meal! Every time I had asked previously, I had been assured that no help was needed. This time, I grated a package of queso blanco cheese into a bowl to go into the delicious chicken and cheese quesadillas that we ate with more leftover beans and rice.
After I finished shredding the cheese, I grabbed a sponge and washed the grater and my hands in the kitchen sink. Then I took a good look at the soap. Although I recognized the brand name “Palmolive,” I did NOT recognize either the solid, grainy substance that filled the plastic tub like green, petrified margarine OR the alarming tingling sensation that three of my fingertips were experiencing after coming in contact with it. The sight of the Spanish words meaning “safe for hands” somewhat alleviated my alarm, but I still rinsed my hand under cold water until the tingling stopped. Apparently I am allergic to their dish soap.
After dinner, we played buzzwords again. Then we returned to our room, mindful that this would be our last night to enjoy the view. Sometime after midnight, the full moon shone its blinding search light into my face and awakened me for the second night in a row. The first time it had done so, it had managed to convince me that it was morning and the sun was shining in my eyes. In my groggy state, I had wondered how on earth the sun could be blinding me when the room was still dark! I appreciated the presence of the moon much more after it retreated to a picturesque position over the distant peaks, where it painted the canvas of the morning hours with a purple glow.