You know that sensation when something shocks your perception? Like a little skip in cognition. When your mind takes a moment to catch up to what’s happening, because simply comprehending the reality of it is difficult.
“¿Cómo lo hago?” / “How do I get it out?”
That’s what the boy said, after he saw the photo we took of him and his friend. I paused for a moment, trying to understand the question.
“¿Cuál es tu número de teléfono? Te lo enviaré. ¿Tienes WhatsApp?” “What’s your phone number? I’ll send it to you. Do you have WhatsApp?”
All I got was a look of confusion. And it wasn’t because of my poor Spanish.
Humberto Oliva, my new friend from Santo Domingo who had brought us to this place – Punta Salinas – laughed. “He does not have a phone. He does not know what that is.”
“What about his parents? I can send it to them!” I thought I’d discovered the perfect solution.
“His parents do not have cell phones.”
Again, I paused. My brain was having trouble processing this concept. No phone. No internet. No clear understanding of what a camera is or how it works.
Once I finally got the message, I was quiet for a while. Because in the reality that I lived in, I couldn’t figure out a solution for how to get these boys their photo.
The idea is not new to me. I understand that different parts of the world are progressing in different ways, and that what’s available to me and those from the communities I grew up in is a far cry from what’s available in a small salt mining village in the Dominican Republic.
Yet even in that village, there are different levels of wealth and access to technology, just as in our own cities. There’s the guy with the fancy hotel and the private yacht dock. There’s those working in the naval ship yard. Fishermen searching for their catch of the day. The families mining salt and living a relaxed, simple life in this quiet beach town. And these boys, without phones or any idea how they work.
This trip was a beautiful reminder. This village. The people in it.
I’ve insulated myself in my own version of reality this past several months, and it’s easy to forget the greater reality of our world.
That little perspective tweak, though? It’s valuable. So go to those places. Step away from the hotels. Talk to the people. All of them. Who knows what stories you’ll hear? What lessons you will learn?
You won’t know until you go.
Punta Salinas is one of the most precious places I have ever been. And I can’t wait to go back to find these boys and deliver their photos…