Saturday, March 31, 2012

O is for the Ozama river

My A to Z of the Dominican Republic continues with O for Ozama.

The word Ozama is a Taino Indian word which was originally written Hosama or Osama meaning to listen, or attention, although I have no idea why one would call a river that. It is 148 kilometres long, beginning in the Loma Siete Cabezas, literally the Seven Heads Hill, which at 856 metres  is the highest point in the Sierra de Yamasa mountain range.

The river then flows eastwards through Monte Plata province and eventually meets the Caribbean sea, dissecting the capital of the country, Santo Domingo.  It has three main tributaries, the rivers Isabela, Sabita and Yabacao.

It is the 4th largest river in the Dominican Republic, and due to fact that its source is in an area high in rainfall, the water from the river is not needed for irrigation purposes and thus all flows down into the ocean. In addition, because the mouth of the river and its basin are actually below sea level, when the tide is in the sea water flows back up into the river.

When the Dominican Republic was a Spanish colony, flat bed boats used to travel up the river, however it is not deep enough for ships, although they dock at its mouth. It has often been cited in poems and for many Dominicans, especially those living overseas, the Ozama river is a symbol of their homeland.

The Colonial Zone in Santo Domingo with the river Ozama
To be honest, although I have always wanted to travel into the interior of the country on one of the rivers, the Ozama would not be one I would choose. Most of the poor in that area of Santo Domingo live in the surroundings of the Ozama and Isabela rivers, in what can only be described as slums.

I have often wondered why people would want to live there. As recently as the 1950's there were hardly any houses there at all, and the entire north zone of the city contained only an estimated 5000 families. The last 30 years however have seen amazing changes and tens of thousands of families were evicted from their homes in various parts of Santo Domingo to make way for roads, hospitals, public monuments such as the Columbus Lighthouse, and tourist and business developments. In the 1980s, 70% of the population of Santo Domingo lived in working class barrios and shanty towns.  They were evicted and although some were rehoused, many had to just find somewhere to build a new home, hence the river banks became populated.

The pollution of the river is legendary, and it is not only due to people who live there who use the river for all of their waste, it is also due to industry. In the 1960s and 1970s the Dominican Republic became open to foreign investment, and 71% of the new industrial factories to arrive, set up in Santo Domingo. Obviously environmental pollution was not even thought about in the DR at this time, and they simply discharged their untreated waste into the Ozama and Isabela Rivers.  

Those living in the area of the River Ozama live in appalling conditions. The houses often flood, there are mudslides, they are almost without potable water, no mains sewage, no rubbish collection  and vulnerable to cholera, typhoid and other water borne diseases.

It is a crying shame that the River Ozama cannot be the focal point of the city as are so many other great rivers around the world - the Thames in London, the Seine in Paris, the Danube. It could be used for a tourist attraction. parks along the side for the residents of the capital, boat trip into the interior, and  fishing trips.

 Instead it is the focal point for rubbish, pollution and poverty.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ñ is for Ñame

Ñ is pronounced like the ni in onion or the ny in canyon. Ñame is thus pronounced ny-ah-may.

Ñame is a staple Dominican vegetable and the English translation is yam, but it is not a sweet potato as I think yams are. The word is also used to describe someone who is a bit of an idiot! It cannot be said to be an attractive vegetable by any stretch of the imagination being brown and woody looking, and comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. In fact, ñame can become enormous, well over 100lbs, and there are all sorts of reports of monster ñames - here is a chap who is very proud of his.

When you cut it open it is white inside and to cook it you simply peel, cut into chunks and boil until soft.

Ñame takes around 7-10 months to grow, and is often grown as an ornamental plant as well, due to the attractiveness of its leaves.

It is the staple diet in Africa, where 95% of all ñame is grown, and is used in a dish called fufu, which provides 200 calories a day per person. However, because it is low in protein, in areas of high consumption children often suffer from a serious protein deficiency disease. In addition, although not scientifically proved, it is thought to contain a type of oestrogen and so is used as a natural menopausal supplement to reduce hot flushes.
Although ñame can be simply boiled, it is used mostly in the Dominican Republic in the traditional dish known as sancocho, which literally means stew. I cook this by boiling beef in water with onions, garlic, lots of fresh coriander, salt and the proverbial maggi stock cube, for around 2 hours until it is very tender, then add root vegetables including lots of ñame, yautia, plantains for another hour. Sancocho is very popular at celebrations as it is easy to make loads.

However, if you want to give it a try and make the authentic sancocho with seven types of meat, then check out the recipe here, from Aunt Clara's Dominican Cookbook.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

N is for No

My A to Z of the Dominican Republic continues with the letter N and what I think is probably the most used word - No.
It comes in various forms: No se (pronounced say) means 'I don't know' and is used whenever you ask the kids where something is, or where they have put something. Usually it is not where it was as it has been eaten or used. The conversation goes like this.
"Where is the peanut butter?"
"No se"
"Well it was in the fridge and it's not there now."
"No fue yo." That means it wasn't me - another No.

No se is used all the time and drives me mad!

The second No is 'No hay', pronouced eye. Hay means there is or there are, so no hay means there isn't and there never is.
You go to the petrol station and there stuck on the pump are the dreaded words - 'No Hay' - no petrol.

You go into a restaurant and order some food to be told "No hay" - whatever you ordered is not available.

I remember ordering Thai prawns in a very upscale beach restaurant to be told 'No hay.'  I asked if it was the prawns which were 'No hay'  or something else, and was told "No hay lechuga," in other words there was no lettuce.  I said I would have the prawns without lettuce or could they go and buy a lettuce from the supermarket over the road. Apparently not possible. "No hay!"

Throughout the country there are signs saying 'No hay.' You go to the colmado and ask " Hay agua?" The answer often is "No hay." You then say can you give me four pork chops. Answer is "No hay."

My third No is the one that really drives me mad. No sirve. This is pronounced silvy or sirvy depending on the accent - sometimes it is hard to know if words have an r or an l.  It means it is no good or it doesn't work and once again is used all the time.

If you call a plumber out to look at a broken tap, the first thing he will say is "No sirve."  Now I know it bloody doesn't sirve and what I need is to get it fixed! If you have a flat tyre on the road someone will stop and help you which is lovely of them, but you can guarantee the first words out of their mouth will be "No sirve."

It is not just used when things are broken.  When my kitten pees on the floor, the kitten 'no sirve'. When baseball players don't play well, they 'no sirve.' When perfectly good shoes have been worn a few times, according to the kids they 'no sirve.'  When you buy a pumpkin the Dominicans knock on it, then half of the time say not to buy it as 'no sirve'. I have no idea how you can tell if it sirve or not!

So that is my letter N - N for No!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dominican Children

When I met my Dominican husband some 11 years ago, he had his 3 young sons living with him. It is traditionally the case that if the parents split up the boys go with the father and the girls with the mother. As I had never had children of my own I thought it would be quite fun to play mother for the first time in my life. For the most part it was. They were very well behaved, helped with the cooking, did the cleaning and washing up, laying and clearing the table, made the beds, and would no more dream of arguing with either of us or answering back, than flying to the moon.  We had some great days out as well
The boys in Boca Chica

Day out at the zoo - err "Do not feed the animals?"

On holiday in Barahona

But there were two problems. The first is that they believed, like many Dominicans do, in sharing. Anything that was in the house was there to be shared with those less fortunate. If someone had nothing to eat, then the food bought at the supermarket the day before by me, to last us week, would be shared with friends and neighbours. I would come home from a days diving looking forward to a glass of coca cola and the two litre bottle which was there in the morning, had gone. I would ask the children where it was:

" No fue yo," "It wasn't me," would say the first one.
"Yo no se," "I don't know," would say the second.
"Yo tampoco," "Me neither," would pipe up the third.

I would go to get a chicken out of the freezer to find it was gone. The answers were the same as above.

It wasn't only the food that was shared, so were sheets, towels, cutlery and crockery, my clothes and my shoes. I would see motoconcho drivers wearing my Armani T shirts and little Haitian boys going to school in my trainers.
Number two stepson - butter wouldn't melt

The second problem was the one of not doing something if it was too much effort, but making it look as if it was done. Number two son was, and still is - even aged 21 - the expert at this. He would wash up, but if a pan was difficult to wash, maybe it had been used for the con con (burnt rice), he would not wash it. But he wouldn't leave it to soak, he would hide it.  In the cupboard, the fridge, the oven or even the dustbin. I used to have to check every week before the dustbin man came to fish the dirty pans out.  Nowadays he leaves things to soak, but he is unable of screwing the lid back on anything - he puts the lid on the top, just doesn't bother screwing it down.  Empty bottles get left in the cupboard to save throwing them away.  Always takes the easy way out, and won't make that tiny bit more of an effort to make sure the job is complete! Drives me potty.

All grown up - but still taking the easy way out!
I have no idea if this is a Dominican trait, a child's trait or a boy's trait, but it does my head in! Any ideas how to train them?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

M is for Mamajuana, Mangu and Morir Soñando

We have now reached letter M in my A to Z of the Dominican Republic and there are so many things starting with letter M it was hard to choose. In the end I have chosen three of my favourite things, all of which are quintessentially Dominican.

Mamajuana is what my husband calls in his interesting English, 'Rum with esticks'. It is basically rum, red wine and honey poured into a bottle which is full of bits of tree bark, twigs and herbs. The herbs and bark were originally used by the Taino Indians with hot water to make a medicinal tea, and this has now been replaced by alcohol.  Mamajuana is said to act as an aphrodisiac, in fact it is sometimes known as el para palo, literally 'lift the stick', a flu remedy, an aid to digestion and the circulation, a blood cleanser and a tonic for the liver and kidney.  It is usually served as a shot and often restaurants will give you one on the house after a meal.

The name Mamajuana actually comes from the English word demi john - the name of the large bottle with a narrow neck, which is traditionally used for making it. Demi john comes from the french word for the same bottle, which are known there as Dame Jeanne. Instead of Lady Joan it has ended up as Mother Joan in Spanish.

The herbs vary from recipe to recipe and can be bought in packets or inside the empty bottle for you to prepare yourself. The herbs will usually include a range of medicinal plants such as anamu, season vine, princess vine, maguey leaves, and West Indian milk berry, plus cinnamon, cloves, star anise and basil. The first thing to do is to take the bitterness out of the herbs and twigs by filling the bottle with red wine or gin and leaving it for around a week before throwing it away.  Then you refill the bottle with 1/4 honey and 3/4 rum, and it is ready to drink.  Some people will add more red wine as well as the honey and rum. The longer you leave it the more potent it is. You can keep refilling the bottle some say up to 20 times before starting again.

My second M is for Mangu. Apparently the word comes from Americans, who tried it when they invaded the Dominican Republic in the early 20th Century. They sat there eating mangu and said "Man, good", and as Dominicans usually leave the ends of the words it became known as mangu.  Mangu is made by boiling green plantain bananas and then mashing them with salt and pepper, butter and a little water or milk.  It is traditionally eaten for breakfast with fried salami, fried eggs and fried cheese.  It is very addictive and is one of my favourite Dominican meals.

My third M is for a drink called Morir Soñando which means to die dreaming, and this really is a dreamy drink. It is basically freshly squeezed orange juice, milk, sugar and ice all mixed together, and drunk very cold.  Instead of milk, many people use evaporated milk and some will use a different juice.  My favourite is with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and evaporated milk - absolutely delicious.  You do have to be very careful to keep all the ingredients cold or it will curdle. There is a recipe here which gives you the quantities of each ingredient and advice on how to make it.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Google searches

Through the little Feedjit link on the side I can see how people are arriving at my blog. And very happy I am to see all of you!  However, what has been interesting is that many arrive via an internet search for certain subjects.

A lot arrive looking for new saucepans (sorry!), someone was searching for 'How to put cats in saucepans' (yes really!) and another for avocado recipes.

However the vast majority of searches are ladies looking for information on Sanky Pankies or Dominican men. So I have included another tab at the top of this page where I have written a little more about Dominican men, and about Sanky Pankies.  It has space for comments, where you can ask a question or write your story, and you can always contact me to ask for information and/or advice based on my experience here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ll is for Lluvia (Rain)

An extra letter in the Spanish alphabet in my A-Z of the Dominican Republic. Ll is pronounced like a 'y' and lluvia means rain in Spanish.

The Dominican Republic certainly has plenty of rain, which is what keeps it so beautiful and green and leads to the abundance of agricultural products. The average annual rainfall is around 1400mm but it varies across the country, with as little as 500mm at the western border with Haiti and as much as 2500 in the Samana peninsula in the North East. 

The south coast has a definite rainy season which usually runs from May to November, although some years has continued until the end of December. Often there is no rain at all for the months of January through to May. May is usually the wettest month, with Santo Domingo, the capital, having on average 180mm of rain in May, followed by 172mm in September, then tailing off to 110mm in November. The north coast has a lot more rain during the winter months as well as the summer and does not have such a defined wet and dry season.

When it rains here it really rains! Sometimes you cannot see even a few yards in front of you and the rain pours off the roofs filling up the fresh water barrels which many use as their source of drinking water.

And even though you would think the country would be used to coping with large quantities of rain, invariably the roads flood terribly, even in the capital, Santo Domingo mainly due to totally inadequate drainage systems.

And the rain doesn't just stay in the streets - it goes into the houses too.  My friend Nicole sent me this picture of her friend's house in San Pedro de Macoris when heavy rain caused the river to rise and flood a whole neighbourhood.
Many houses are built on river banks or close to the rivers, and so when it rains in the mountains, the rivers rise with the volume of water, and by the time they reach the coast they are torrents, full of all the undergrowth, mud and rubbish which they have collected on the way. They flood all of the low lying areas on the coast and often sweep bridges away with them as they make their way into the ocean. Following heavy rain the sea will often change from a beautiful turquoise colour to the colour of hot chocolate as the less dense fresh, but muddy river water, floats on top of the denser salt water.

You would think in a country with so much rain that the Dominican people would just take it in their stride. Some do and will go out in the rain, but only if it is totally essential. There is one thing that is essential for the ladies and that it under no circumstances must their hair get wet. Anything is used to cover the hair, and it will usually be a plastic bag.  Funnily enough I have never seen plastic rain hats on sale here, although if there is no plastic bag then a shower cap will suffice.

But usually when it rains, nothing happens at all. I would ask the children, "Why aren't you ready for school?" and they would look at me incredulously and say, "It is raining." A little bit of rain means no going to school, no going to work, no doing anything. According to my husband it is for a variety of reasons. Firstly because it is dangerous in that the streets might be flooded, or muddy. If there is wind as well, then electric lines may blow down into flooded streets, zapping everyone in sight.  Plus of course it is colder when it rains, so there is more chance you will catch the flu. Best all round to stay indoors, which is what everyone does and the whole country comes to a standstill once the rain starts. Apart from on the roads that is, where some drive at the same speed as if it were dry, even though they can't see their hand in front of their face, but they put their hazard warning lights on! I love this country!

Monday, March 12, 2012

L is for Luz

The next letter in my A-Z of the Dominican Republic has to be L for Luz. Luz means light, but  it means electricity too and the lack of reliable electricity is one of the worst parts of living here and doing business here.

According to the World Bank, the revitalisation of the Dominican economy depends greatly on a sound reform of the electricity sector, which is characterised by high operating costs, large losses due to theft by illegal connections, high tariffs to cover these inefficiencies and a low level of bill collections. The sector has been nationalised, then privatised, then back under government control and all to no avail.

Around 90% of the country has electricity, with a lower percentage in rural areas. The country is divided into different sectors, A-D, and the amount of electricity you receive depends on your sector. Those in A sectors should have 24 hours a day, whereas the 50% of the country in D sectors have around 12 hours a day. The outages are planned, and you can check them out on line, but as well as the scheduled times to be without electricity, it goes off at other times too, in the supposed 24 hour sectors as well.

The reasons it goes off are manifold. One is that the wires are above ground and so often blow down, and the electricity is always turned off in a hurricane or tropical storm. Also it seems to be often turned off for maintenance, or so they say. If you live in a D sector it is due off at certain times of the day but it rarely goes off when the web site says it will,  or comes on when it is supposed to. I assume there is a  little man who has the job of  turning the different sectors on and off at specific times, but he often  forgets, or is eating his lunch or he falls asleep when he should turn it on. Sometimes he turns it on when it should be off and then realises a few minutes later and turns it back off again.

The vast majority of Dominicans are used to living in an environment where the power comes and goes and the days are peppered with hearing people shout: "Hay luz?" which means "Is there electricity?", or the happy shout of "llego la luz!" "The electricity arrived!" and the sad and frustrated call ,"Se fue la luz," "The electricity went." As soon as the cry goes up that the electricity has arrived, then on goes the music and out come the washing machines.

Living without electricity is not easy, however the majority of expats and businesses will have alternative sources of power such as diesel powered generators and inverters with banks of batteries, but these all add to the cost.  The electricity when it does arrive is already among the most expensive in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the more you use the more it costs. Where I live it is RD$4.44 per kilowatt for the first 200 kw and then jumps to RD$6.97 for the next level and continues to increase. Totally the reverse for the usual situation where the more you use the cheaper the price per unit. Those who live in houses with swimming pools, air conditioning, and washer dryers can often expect to pay over US$500 a month for electricity.

Because of the high cost, many people will try and find ways around paying for all of their power, and in 2007 the Central Electricity Board estimated that only 59% of the power they produced was paid for. Many people assume that those who connect illegally are the poorer people who simply take a piece of wire and some taypee and connect in whichever way they can. I used to have up to 20 or 30 small huts connecting into my meter, simply by using a piece of wire and then burying it under the ground between my house and theirs. I would disconnect them and they would simply reconnect the next day. It did not help that the electricity company insisted that the meter had to be on the outside wall, rather than inside so people could not connect to it.

However it is not just the poor who try and keep the costs down, There are several other methods people will use. The easiest way is to pay the man who reads the meter a small tip to become digitally dyslexic and read the meter wrongly - every month. Other methods include installing two meters to avoid using too many kilowatts on one meter, having the meter adjusted to go 'slowly', and wiring all or part of the house or business directly to the supply. However the electricity companies are always on the look out for these type of scams and fine the offenders heavily.

In the end the electricity situation here is what it is, and most people learn to work around it, but for those who do not know how it works nor the cost, it can be a shock when they first arrive.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Chicken, rice and beans the Anglo/Indian way

There comes a time when a girl cannot face chicken rice and beans anymore! It is the staple Dominican diet, and in my house we have it at least 3 times a week if not more. Being English, and being that our national food has changed over the decades from roast beef and fish and chips to Indian curries, I have managed to morph Dominican chicken rice and beans into Indian chicken curry with lentil dahl and rice. Not only do I love it, but so do my Dominican family, so everyone is happy.

If I was in England I would just pop down to my local supermarket, buy a packet of chicken curry and stick it in the microwave.  No packets here so we have to start from scratch and adapt as necessary to what is available here. So here is my recipe for Chicken Dopiaza which means Chicken double onion.

1. Slice up six (yes six) large onions and fry in some oil until soft.
2. Add six or more cloves of garlic crushed and around an inch of fresh ginger cut up finely and fry a little more.
3. Add two teaspoons each of turmeric, coriander and garam masala spices. If you can't get garam masala then add two teaspoons in total of a mix of cloves, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon and cumin.
4. Add a whole chicken cut up into about 6 pieces with the skin taken off - feet and all if you like.
5. Cover with chicken stock, or water and a couple of Maggi stock cubes.
6. Simmer for around 2 hours with no lid on until the chicken falls off the bone and there is only a little thick sauce left.
7. Add salt if needed (you won't need it if you have used Maggi stock cubes) and I add 4 or 5 chillis.
8. If Dominican and can do mouth aerobics with chicken bones and pick them clean whilst inside mouth then leave on bone. I take the chicken off the bone!

Chicken Dopiaza
While the chicken is cooking make your Indian dahl.

1. Take a 1lb bag of lentils (red if you can get them, but I use brown ones as can't find red ones) and simmer in lots of water with 2 teaspoons turmeric, 2 teaspoons coriander, 1 teaspoon sugar, half teaspoon salt and 6-10 chillis cut up small. Use less chillis if  you don't want it too hot.
2. Top up water as necessary until lentils are nice and soft and just a little water left, around 45 minutes.
3. In a frying pan melt around 4 oz butter, and fry a couple of onions and some garlic until brown.
4. Then add to the frying pan 3 or 4 tomatoes cut up small, plus a big handful of fresh coriander (cilantro in American I think), also finely chopped.
5. Add a teaspoon of chilli powder and a teaspoon of garam masala if you have it.
6. Mix in with the lentils.

Serve with rice and also wraps which you can pretend are chapatis! Or you can try and make Naan bread.

It really is a lovely alternative to chicken, rice and beans, and I have found that Dominicans love it, and you can leave the chillis out or put less in for those who don't like spicy food.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Country living

This is an excerpt from my column in Expat Focus this month.  You can read the full article here.

Out of the population of 10 million in the Dominican Republic, around 30% live in the country, in small settlements known as campos. Life in the campo is very different from life in the towns and cities, due to the lack of infrastructure and lack of work. Poverty is rife, but somehow the inhabitants of the campos survive,  and raise children who then often leave to find work in the towns and cities.

The houses in the campos are usually made of planks, sliced up palm trees, although the richer will build theirs out of concrete blocks. The poorest houses are made of twigs or sugar cane, woven together. The roofs are invariably zinc sheet. Inside the houses the floor will just be dirt, or concrete for those who can afford it. The number of rooms in the house, will again depend on how much money the occupants have. Those who can afford it have a bedroom separate from the living area, and some even have two bedrooms, one for the children.  Otherwise the children sleep in with the parents.

The living area may also have a kitchen at one end, but the majority has an outside kitchen or no kitchen at all. Cooking is usually done on a fogon, either made of cement like a table with an indent in it for the fire, or simply three concrete blocks on the floor with a space in the middle where you put either the wood or the charcoal.
Outdoor kitchen in the campo


One of the main problems in the campo is the water. In some areas the public water system delivers water in pipes, and a few people have a tap in the kitchen. More have a tap in the garden or maybe one in one garden which several people use. If there is no piped water to the community, then the alternatives are to dig a well, or to go to the river and conserve rainwater too. In some areas water is delivered in a truck – although most campo folk could not afford this.  In many campos, as the sun loses its heat in the late afternoon, you can see a steady stream of donkeys laden with plastic containers of all shapes and sizes, heading down to the river.

Monday, March 5, 2012

K is for Kite boarding

Moving along with my A-Z of the Dominican Republic and K is for Kite boarding.

Cabarete is a small beach village in the North of the Dominican Republic and has been home to the kite boarding world championships since 2001.

Zephaniah Kingsley

It was founded under the name of Cabaret in 1835 by an Englishman called Zephaniah Kingsley who was a plantation owner and slave trader in Florida. Kingsley was a polygamist who had four wives, the first one being Anna who he purchased when she was 13.

Anna Kingsley
When a law was passed in Florida forbidding interracial marriages, he moved to the Dominican Republic, which was under Haitian rule at the time, and set up his 35,000 acre Mayorasgo de Koka estate on the north coast, along with his wives and 53 slaves. His descendants are still in the area today and you can read more about Zephaniah and his family here.

Cabarete 1984
Some 150 years later, in 1984, the secret of Cabarete was apparently discovered  by a man called Jean Laporte who came to the Dominican Republic to do some windsurfing. He travelled from the south coast to the north in search of wind and arrived at what is now Cabarete. At that time there was no tourism there at all, just a long sandy curving bay, fishermen and of course wind.

Photograph by Jürgen Warschun
Sitting sipping a Presidente beer, he suddenly noticed that  the wind was picking up, so he went out into the bay on his board and was amazed to find perfect conditions as the afternoon went on. He then contacted a French Canadian sail board magazine and within six months half of the world's windsurfing community were aware of Cabarete. You can read more about how he discovered Cabarete here.

Photograph by Jürgen Warschun

Nowadays, Cabarete is known as one of the finest places for kite boarding in the world. The reason is that there are trade winds together with thermals, which make for strong and consistent winds. The wind blows easterly and starts tostrengthen at around 11am in the morning. For an hour or so the conditions are perfect for beginners, and then at around 12.30 to 1.30 the thermals kick in and the wind really picks up. It is at its strongest at around 4pm and then by 6pm it has gone again.

These conditions make Cabarete the perfect place for a kite boarding holiday. But Cabarete has more to it than just kite boarding.  The beach is lined with bars and restaurants with all different types of cuisine, and is a lovely place to go for a long leisurely lunch. You can eat fabulous seafood and spend the afternoon watching other people exercise as they glide across the water on their boards.