Dreaming of the Dominican Republic

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I miss clapping with strangers once the plane lands, and the humidity puffing up my fresh salon blowout the moment I walk out of the airport. I miss being greeted by my cousins with tight hugs and feeling the anticipation as we pull up to the barrio, knowing that my grandmother has no clue I’ve just arrived. I miss falling asleep to bachata blasting from the next-door neighbor, and the roosters being my morning alarm. Over a year of not visiting the Dominican Republic has left a bigger hole in my heart than I could have ever imagined. In a year when the world was collectively hurting for so many reasons, thinking of when I’ll be able to see my family members in the Dominican Republic again has kept me hopeful. The moment I go back will be even more special.

More than half of my family members live in the Dominican Republic. Every summer since I was 7, my parents would send me over and I would have the time of my life. It's the place where I learned how to speak Spanish, learned about my culture, ate the best food, and experienced life with my grandparents. My summers in the Dominican Republic are the most memorable parts of my childhood, and I’m forever grateful that my parents made sure to prioritize this experience for me and my siblings.

"The Dominican Republic is rich in history, with beautiful landscapes that I have yet to see."

The Dominican Republic became my escape place. Whenever I was going through a tough time, I would think about when my next trip back would be, and I knew that was going to make all the difference. My favorite part about traveling to the Dominican Republic is that I always had the most fun experiencing the smallest moments. Whether it was sitting outside in the backyard watching the palm trees, reliving funny stories with my aunts, uncles, and cousins every Sunday in my grandmother's house, or playing cards all night, there was no other place I would have rather been.

Now that I am older, I hope to experience the country for more of what it has to offer. The Dominican Republic is rich in history, with beautiful landscapes that I have yet to see. There are also stunning beaches and attractions that many of my family members who live in the Dominican Republic have not seen themselves. I hope to experience the rest of the country with my family, and truly see the beauty of the island.

As the world begins to reopen and families start to safely reunite, I look forward to being in my safe space again, where life feels happier and I’m surrounded by so much love and light. This year showed me how important life’s simple moments are but also how fragile they can be. Many families experienced so much grief and heartache that now more than ever, I value those I love the most and the places that keep me whole. Until I visit the Dominican Republic again, I keep myself going by the memories I’ve made there, and the moments that are waiting to be experienced.

Tags: Adventure, Navigating the Pandemic, Overcoming Adversity, Self Care

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Written By

Claribel Rivas

Claribel is a social media manager in the Washington D.C. area who incorporates her cultural influences into her creative content. See Full Bio

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