República Dominicana

Por fin estoy aquí! For 15 years I’ve wanted to come to the Dominican Republic and now I’m finally here. I couldn’t be more excited to explore this country that has been tugging at me for all these years. I’ve never been south of Acapulco (not sure the DR is any further south really) and my travels in Latin America have been solely throughout Mexico. The Caribbean interests me for many reasons, primarily for the Afro-Latin culture. And so it begins…

On 30 June we set out on what would be a 16 hour journey, three flights with a decent layover in Atlanta where I was able to meet up with a dear friend who I worked with in Mae Sai, Thailand. She arrived at the airport with Thai lunch in tow…straight baller, that P’Sala. To say the flight was arduous would be putting it mildly. Because our names were entered incorrectly with our passport numbers upon check-in, we were flagged for every flight which caused delays, confusion, extra time to sort it out, and general cantankerousness on my part. Flying with a very active, inquisitive, strong-willed 14-month-old was challenging enough. Add Delta’s general incompetence and the journey was nothing short of exhausting. I’ve flown internationally many times and I’ve traversed much longer distances, but I’ve always flown alone. Every single time. Traveling with a toddler is a first for me and prepared as I was, it was still pretty grueling. Luckily my boy slept through two of the three flights but it was uncomfortable and tiring having a very shifty lap passenger to entertain and position in ways that weren’t burdensome to the passengers seated next to me. Forget reading. Forget snoozing. Forget getting lost in daydreams and altocumulus. Instead I had to manage two checked bags, two carry-ons, two passports, two boarding passes, my busy toddler, the stroller to be gate checked, confusion and delays at each gate…you get the picture. Delta has never been my favorite airline and this journey cemented that they may in fact be my least favorite. A camera was stolen out of our checked luggage. The brand new UPPAbaby stroller was partially broken. The delays were unnecessary and ridiculous. And it’s been three weeks and I have yet to hear from the Delta Complaint Department. Shitty ass airline. Even shittier customer service.

So why the Dominican? I desperately wanted to leave the U.S. after being back for 20 months. I was going stir crazy in a place I just don’t resonate that much with anymore. Repatriation was hard after residing in Southeast Asia for three years. I wanted some mobility and adventure. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and taste the unfamiliar. I wanted to take advantage of my son flying for free while he’s under the age of two. I wanted to see if it’s possible for me to live abroad again this time with my family, knowing there will be certain challenges I never had traveling and living abroad by myself. I want my son to benefit from internationality as I have. I want him to experience and embrace other cultures, languages and customs. To learn about the world firsthand and to start much earlier than I did. I figured the Dominican Republic was a good jumping off point. It’s not too far from the U.S., Spanish is relatively easy, it has complicated sociopolitical issues with Haiti, the country is 75% mixed race like my son and it’s not an unbearably long flight for his first time on a plane. And what’s not to love about Caribbean beaches, Reggaeton, and a plethora of fresh fruit and seafood? So here we are. I’m either making the best decision of my life by getting my son acclimated early on or I’m biting off entirely more than I can chew. Only time will tell. And in the time it takes me to sort it out, I plan on enjoying everything this place has to offer.

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