Spotlight

A Guy Named Hans

“Every day the sun is coming up.” My sister and I looked sideways at each other and tried not to grin. Whaaat?! Later she laughed, “Oh my god, that guy Hans. ” And me, “I know, that’s so funny. I love it. ‘Every day the sun is coming up.'”

Hans was the part owner of the surf school I worked at. He lived in Germany and had fallen in love with Playa Cabarete years ago. His buddy, Franz, yup, Hans and Franz, had come on a windsurfing vacation in their 20s long before I ever knew about this beach.

As people often do, they started thinking about what it would be like to say good-bye to real life, to the rut, to the mind-numbing commute, the baby food and nappies. Every night the baby food and nappy life waiting inside the front door. The packing up once a year of beach belongings and hauling them off to this beach for three weeks. And then home. And then the nappies.

In the story of Hans and Franz, they remained great friends and they did move here, Franz in body and Hans in spirit. Hans was the silent partner, investing in the surf school and coming for vacation. Franz lived the beach life. The rum for breakfast, the living for the wind and waves life. He was the envy of people like me who showed up looking to live the beach life, too. We came to Franz looking for cool stories and jobs.

On this particular day my sister and I had asked Hans why he didn’t live here, too. Why he hadn’t opted for freedom and sunshine, the moon on the ocean. “Well I tell you,” he said, only a slight German catch to his English, “Of course you have the nice things here. The papaya, the mango, the beautiful fruits for breakfast and then dinner has the fresh fishes. Oh and the waves of course. But after some time you know, you can never escape it. Every day the sun is coming up.”

Oh the nightmare of that sun, oh big orange ogre, that warmer of water and sparkler of sand.  This was why Hans had to live in chilly Deutschland and pack up to the beach for only three weeks, then lament going back to the cold. This horror of the sun. Every single day. Rising in and out of the ocean like a maddening ticking and tocking clock. The sun going up. The sun going down. Like Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day, I guess Hans’s mind-numbing rut was Cabarete Beach.

One man’s prison is another woman’s freedom. And highest source of gratitude. How I loved watching the sun come up. Every day. How I loved that there was nothing else to do, except a few things in between, and then watching it go down again. I assume Hans meant that, as we in New England say, he loved the change of seasons.

But I say if you watch the sun go up and down enough, you will see the change of seasons, even on a tropical beach where it’s only warm, hot, hotter, hottest. And you will wait quivering, every day, for the beast of the sun peeping out of the ocean, scouring the beach for the Hanses of the world…and winking slowly and secretly at me.

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