Life in The Dominican Republic
It didn’t require much thought. I hate winter. I hate cold. I hate big, heavy coats and scarves and gloves and hats. I was young. And the economy was not-so-nice to just out of college English majors with no experience in anything except menial office labor.
I spent the four months directly out of the university in Florida. There’s only so much a young person not from Florida can do in Florida. In October of that year, I boarded a plane with the intention of staying out of the states for a year. Two at the most.
What was I thinking? This culture is contagious.
Here I was, an American girl with a good, solid degree ready to conquer the world. I would travel. I would love freely and muchly. I would fly. I would make money. I would be successful. And perfect. Don’t forget that I’d be perfect. Perfect and rich. And happy. Oh, and I wanted a BMW.
Flash forward five years. I’m still here. Still here in this paradise called the Dominican Republic. The land of no winter called me, seduced me, beckoned me to stay. Convinced me to give up that dream of rich success that meant 9-5 workdays, late night meetings, stress and headache.
This morning I went to the market. I wandered around, baby strapped in her snuggly carrier, looking for fresh fruit. “Ay que linda esa princesa!”Are they talking about me or the baby? Does it matter? Stacks of vegetables, piles of fruit lined the streets. It’s late January and I’m in shorts and a tee-shirt walking around an outdoor market buying fresh, locally grown food. I brought home at least 15 pounds of produce for less than 10 dollars. And to think my friends at home pay top dollar for this.There’s no work today. Or any day, really. I work at home, tutoring students from the local American school. I choose my schedule. Here in the Dominican Republic, I’ve got no 9-5, no late night meetings and only the stress and headaches I allow in my life. But today, today’s a holiday. Dia de la Altagracia.
The kids and I surprise visit some friends. Seriously, with no notice of our impromptu visit, it’s amazing to see how fast coffee is brewed, sweetened and served. Dominican coffee is a force to be reckoned with. I’ll take my Santo Domingo over Starbucks any day. The kids played in the patio. Us ladies did what ladies do: chismear. A little catching up, a little gossip.
Tomorrow we might go to the beach. An hour shot up through the mountains and we’re there. Or to a river. It depends on the weather. We might have to stay home and watch movies and eat palomitas de maiz. But it doesn’t matter. We’re here. In the DR.
I don’t travel. Except at Christmas to visit my family (so much for escaping nasty winter weather forever!) And the occasional jaunt around the country in our Rav-4. No beemer for me. The loving freely and muchly is decidedly focused on my husband and children. The money we make will buy a modest house someday, pays the bills and a little saved up for a rainy day.
So, not so rich and successful like I thought. But so rich and successful like I’ve never dreamed. In a world where it’s difficult for women to stay at home, raise their children, I do. I get to watch my children grow. I get to eat fresh fruit. I get to cherish friendships (and a good cup of coffee). It’s not the easiest thing, living here in the Dominican Republic, but it might just be one of the most rewarding.
Thank you to Melanie Fitzsimmons de Alcequiez who wrote and contributed this post. Read more about Melanie in her blog http://girlinthedr.blogspot.com
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