We spent the day out on the firemen’s boat drinking rum and eating ham and cheese sandwiches. The firemen were friends of ours and in this tiny Dominican village they had the power to commandeer the firefighting boat for a few hours just for fun. The boat ride was so bumpy that by the end most of us ended up either lying on the floor or the roof of the boat trying to get air or see the horizon to stop the sea sickness.

This part of the island of Hispanola, along the Haitian border, has incredible terrain – giant green hills tapering directly into the ocean. It is like Malibu, if Malibu had armed soldiers every few miles checking your car for Haitians.

It was decided after the boat ride that we would have conch for dinner so we drove down the coast to buy some. The two lane road snaked along the shoreline and was surrounded on both sides by make shift electricity lines, propped up in trees and strung around homemade poles leading into the tin roofed homes.

The family we bought the conch from lived right on the beach, in a wood and plastic framed compound with tarps for roofs. It was night by the time we got there so the moon was shining off the waves of the ocean and wind was howling into shore and flapping the tarps violently. By the shaking lamplight we purchased the conch that the father of the family had just fished out of the sea that day.

We got back to our friends house and promptly went right to preparing the conch, it was very tough and needed to be beaten vigorously. After the beating the conch was put through these giant meat grinders to grind and cut it into more edible form. After the conch was tender enough to be cooked, it was added to giant stew and cooked for a long time. The conch was finally served late into the night, after hours of drinking Presidentes in the driveway.

After the feast our friends offered to let us sleep in their cabin up in the hills. It was cooler up at the top of the hill and the cabin was small and wooden with blankets and curtains to keep in the warmth. It was very cozy but we had trouble sleeping that night from all the noise the rats made running around the kitchen.