The previous stop had given us a leadrnon a possible guide and boat for me, sornwe returned to Monte Cristi. As we askedrnabout in the neighborhood, I saw a fatherrnand son carefully grooming one of theirrncocks for a coming fight. Thev told usrnwhere Rojillo—the man with the b o a t -rnlives. We struck a deal to meet Rojillo atrnmy little hotel in town. Paeo returned tornMonte Cristi, leaving me to pull outrnevery syllable of Spanish I had everrnknown. No one that I encountered thereafterrnspoke any English, which was goodrnin more than one way; I got to practicernmv Spanish, and no English or Germanrnmeant no more tourists.rnNext morning, Rojillo showed uprnneeding several dollars for gas. Returningrnhome, he picked up the outboardrnmotor, hauling it and the gas to the beachrnon the back of his small motorccle. Herncame back for me, and off I went on thernback of his motorcvcle, hanging on to myrntackle and the rods that had eventuallyrnshown up. A host of drivers prowl thernstreets of town on motorcycles, lookingrnfor fares. They are called “moto-conchos.”rnRojillo warns me about the hot exhaust.rnAn exhaust bum on the ankle orrnleg is called a “Dominican tattoo.”rnThe boat was anchored out in the water.rnIt turns out this was not Rojillo’s boat,rnbut a friend’s. We retrieved it and set offrnfor the mangroves. They are not verv extensive,rnand the fishing is lousy. In threerndays, we caught virtually nothing exceptrnm- first puffer fish, which is a fairlv funnyrnanimal. Wlien frightened, it puffs up intorna ball, extending its many spines for protection.rnWhen we released it, it floated offrnlike a balloon. On the third dav of unsuccessfulrnfishing, Rojillo finalK told mc thatrnthis is not the season for fishing, as he tookrnout a ver)’ small bottle of beer and bit therncap off. To complete the comed’, a largerntouring boat full of Germans came by,rnand the video cameras began to hum,rncapturing two natives fishing.rnBack at the hotel, I paid off die goodhumoredrnRojillo and made arrangementsrnto get a driver back to Sosua. The deskrnclerk said it should be about S20. He hasrna relative. For me, the price is $60.rnIt was Sunday evening, and I went tornthe hotel dining room, which has somernopen-air tables next to the street, in timernfor the car and motorcycle disjjlav’. Thernlocal young men were displaying themselvesrnto the yoimg women bv’ gimningrntheir motorcycles as loud as the’ wouldrngo. (The one or two who coidd affordrncars turned their sound svstems to thernmax: mating ritual with boom box.) I engagedrnthe man at the next table in conver-rn.sation over the noise. The topic of Sosuarncame up, and he said, “Sosua is ver’, ver’rncorrupt.” He was from Santa Domingornand gave me his card, sa’ing, “Now yournhave a friend in Santa Domingo.”rnThe waiter brought my dinner andrnwine. As I began to eat, a truck came byrnand sprayed mosquito poison, which settledrnon my food. Experienced peoplernquicklv covered their faces with paperrnnapkins. Later, lying in bed as the mosquitoesrnbit me, I stared at a print of thernKlona Lisa on the wall.rnBack in Sosua, mv friend at the divernshop was throw ing a big Christmas partyrnat a nearby hotel. It will always seemrnstrange to me to have Christmas in warmrnweather, but this was a happy affair. Wernhad Christmas pig and plent}- to drink.rnSanta Clans was a black woman.rnDominicans are a happv people, and Irnwonder how long it will take tourism tornchange that. Given the diffieidties theyrnlive under, it seems a miracle they canrnlaugh. One writer has obsered that nornform of gocrnment has ever worked wellrnin DR. The’re working on their 25thrnconstitution. The per capita income isrn31,000 a year, or less than $3 a day.rnThe government has decided to welcomernbig-time tourism. Most of therntourists in Sosua will never visit the rest ofrnthe country to see, for example, smalltownrnlife in Monte Cristi. Man’ v’ill neverrnleave their hotel compound. It’s truernthat the hotel and restaurant businessrnprovides normal jobs for people, and itrnhas paid to upgrade water swstems andrnroads in the tourist towns. But most Dominicansrncannot afford to go there. It’srnespecially demoralizing to rural yoimgrnwonren and men, who make three to fiverndollars a day for decent work when theyrncould make a great deal more than thatrnfor an hour’s work as prostitutes for Europeanrnor American tourists. Some people,rnno matter how good an alternative is offeredrnto them, still choose prostitution. Itrnhas a lot to do witii laziness, r e concluded.rnBut that’s auodier stor’.rnI did not find the Sosua circus in littlerntowns such as Monte Cri.sti, or up in thernmountains. This is where normal liferntakes place. Eurther, there is good fishingrnat the right time in DR. And D R is not inrnany way unique in its desire for quick andrneas- mone-. In m native state of Alissi.ssippi,rnthe general populace was overwhelminglyrnopposed to casino gambling,rnbut politicians sneaked the legislationrnSanta Claus visits Sosua, DominicanrnRepublic.rnthrough (partly b- claiming to protectrnchurch cakewalks and bingo from thernsheriff). Now, rural towns near the GulfrnCoast cannot keep newly trained deputies,rnbecause the casino towns needrnmore lawmen to combat the rise inrncrime, and tiie’ can pay higher salaries.rnIn the first eight months after the legislationrnpassed, casinos brought in $44.4 millionrnin tax revenue; in fiscal year 1999,rn$282 million.rnOn my last da’ in Sosua, I found aboutrn$20 in f)ominican money lying on thernsidewalk. I guess it had been dropped byrnone of the drunks while leaving a nearbyrnbar. Albert Schweitzer remarked that coincidencernis the pseudonym that therngood I ,ord uses when he does not wish tornbe recognized. I felt saintiy for a split-secondrnwhen I walked back up the street andrngave the nione’ to a beggar who sat allrnday by the curb on twisted legs. FelizrnNavidad.rnWilliam Mills is a corresponding editorrnfor Chronicles.rn42/CHRONICLESrnrnrn