Las ilustraciones de Isla Saona
by Michael Zabel
Paradise, I bid thee adieu; alas, I have returned to reality.
I recently spent two weeks (15 days) in the beautiful Dominican Republic, where the sun is always shining, the sea is always brilliant blue, and the locals are some of the happiest people on Earth. While I was there, I was fortunate enough to take an excursion to the very isolated Isla Saona. Here exists a small village with two streets, one small hospital, a sea turtle rescue project, and many other animals roaming freely around the neighborhood. In fact, the residents of Saona village build fences not to keep the animals in, but rather to keep the animals out of their gardens. An interesting notion to say the least. There are obviously many other differences I could point out by comparison to life in the United States but one thing I found interesting was the prominence of paintings and sculpture in the Dominican Republic. Of course, the resort I was staying at had a large collection (which I initially dismissed as everyday tourist shop fodder), but this artwork was also stacked up virtually everywhere I went outside the confines of the resort. Isla Saona was definitely no exception. Getting of the boat and walking up the beach to the village, the first sight one is bound to notice are paintings…canvas upon canvas of paintings. While you must pay for the artwork, this isolated village has an important message that any given visitor can take for free. On this lonely island, lacking the material possessions that we often stress over or gauge our success on, absolute happiness and creativity flourish. Even more interesting, according to our guide that day, is the fact that heart disease and cancer are two things that flat out don’t occur on Isla Saona and life expectancy is considerably longer than ours in the United States. Now that’s something to think about…