Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Simple Life: Why I Didn't Want to Come Back from DR.

Coat of Arms of DR
Earlier this week I arrived back home from a 10 day vacation that transformed my life. Yeah, I am sure a few of you just rolled your eyes [haha], but something clicked within me and has changed me. I loved every moment of my Dominican Republic (DR) experience and would do anything to be transported back to the island of Hispaniola.  


DR from the plane

Last year my husband and I vacationed in DR, but only had the tourist experience. We stayed at a wonderful resort in Punta Cana, went on excursions and even went on those annoying and embarrassing tour buses to the capital--Santo Domingo (Sto. Domingo). We saw everything through the tourist's eyes.

Earlier this year one of my sisters got proposed to and I instantly thought--"Yay, this means I'm going back to DR!" As the time was approaching to purchase our tickets to paradise, I offered to arrive earlier to help her with last minute wedding preparations in the capital. Little did I know what I was in store for.

Being in Santo Domingo as a local was completely different from how I saw it last year from the tour bus. It is a congested city with daring and relentless drivers, but when you look closer, there is so much more than that.



On the streets of Sto. Domingo

I stayed in el Prado Oriental with my sister's family who all live within the same radius [family values are important]. We stayed in her uncle's apartment home and never went to bed on an empty stomach. The delicately crafted meals were so flavorful and made with love. There was always breakfast, lunch, and dinner waiting for us. Even if we were out and about in the streets of Sto. Domingo, there was always food portioned off for us on the table when we got back. 



Entrance of neighborhood
Delicious Dominican fare

More yummy goodness
Something I loved was that every time we were going to go out and every night, we would kiss Tia Denia [and other family members] on the cheek and give big hugs. Sounds so basic, but to feel the love was incredible. That's how I am with my "Abuela" in New Jersey, but to have this part of the daily life feels amazing. There was not a moment where I felt the love dissipate.

I learned from one of the cousins that 70% of the people in the Dominican Republic are living in the poverty, but by their attitude, disposition, and outlook, you wouldn't know it. People in the streets greet you like if they knew you from the past, sales people call you "amor" and etc, and many walk around with wide smiles.


The home I was staying in there was no a/c, just a strong oscillating fan. Every night I would take a cold shower and wet my hair so I could sleep well. I survived and would keep doing it. A couple afternoons throughout the week I would lay in the bed reading "Lean In" by Sheryl Sandberg and genuinely felt relaxed. Look, during my week there, I felt no real stress, sickness, discomfort, sadness (except when someone dear to me passed back home), or anything negative.


View from the balcony with my good read
So, T-Mobile charges an arm and a leg (and your right kidney) for international data therefore I opted to not have data while overseas. What a blessing. One of the cousins had wifi at their home and we would go over there to use it to get in touch with our loved ones back home, but other than that, I was more than okay to not have Internet at every moment. It was a relief to not have Facebook notifications popping up, emails streaming in, and other alerts. Jumping ahead, later in the week when we got to Punta Cana, I ended up not having Internet at all (because the resort wanted to charge a ridiculous amount) for 5 straight days...and guess what? I was happy and relieved to have not that ball and chain.

Another interesting fact about my time in Sto. Domingo was that the electricity would go off every single day at least twice a day. I asked about this and they informed me that it is the city's way of saving energy and reducing costs. Surprisingly I was more than okay with not having electricity. There was a night where the light would not come back and the whole family sat on the balcony just talking, laughing and enjoying each other's company. It was unlike anything else I've experienced.

During my time there I also learned about the country's rich history and deep roots. It was fascinating to learn about the island's beginnings and how it began. Last year, my husband and I had visited the Zona Colonial (historic part of the city), but again, this year it was completely different. I saw it with a different set of eyes. There is so much to see and learn! Don't rely on the tour group...it will not be the same.

Founding fathers of DR


Christopher Columbus' last residence


Casa de Colon


First hospital built in the 1500's

If I could spend at least 1 month a year in DR, I would be a really happy woman. I long for the simple, happy life! Yes, I know that's wishful thinking...but it brings me happiness knowing that I now have family over there. People who are truly beautiful inside and out. I pray that God continues to bless their households and business in abundance. 


!Familia Alcantara, mil gracias por todo! Realmente me sentí en familia durante mi estadía en Sto. Domingo. Son una familia muy bendicida y bella. Que nuestro Dios les siga bendiciendo en todo aspectos. Los aprecio mucho, mucho! Les mando muchos abrazos y besitos. 


(Parte de la) Familia Alcantara

     
 

4 comments:

  1. Awww...reading about your trip was such a blessing. I love traveling and history and it sounds like you were able to do both in DR. I love the simple life. Really, I long to live on a farm in the mountains far away from the city and have me and my extended family close by. I can do without city-life commotion, but I can't do without family. The food looked delicious!!!

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting, Carley! Yes, I agree, there is something peaceful about living the simple life. Hopefully your dream of living in the mountains comes true...and if it does please invite me over for a visit! :) Hehe.

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  2. Aww Nissy, I enjoyed this one. The pictures you shared and the descriptions of your time there and most importantly, the lasting impact it has had on you.

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    1. Hi V! Glad you enjoyed this post. Your motherland was very generous, loving, and peaceful with me. This evening I was texting one of my sisters (mentioned in the blog) and telling her of the things I want to do when I go back. :)

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