Trading It All In: The Journey Begins

Santo Domingo Dominican Republic

Yesterday afternoon, when my sister and I were sprawled out on our shared full-size bed that functions as our main piece of furniture in our new Dominican digs, something occurred to me.

“It was more than a month ago that we stopped in St. Joseph to take pictures of the water.”

More than a month ago that we handed back the keys to what we’ve always known was the best apartment we’d ever have. More than a month ago that we filled my beloved hooptie with our suitcases and extra storage and drove it slowly and carefully back to my parents’ house in Southeast Michigan, stopping at little towns along the way, including St. Joseph, to eat or take photos.

Finishing up; Starting over

In little more than 30 days, we’ve been through a lot. A road trip after dozens of goodbyes; a lazy week at the folks’ house; for me, a whirlwind conference in Tampa; and then a firm and unexpected smack on the bottom from the Dominican Republic, who reminded us that we weren’t in Kansas anymore, so to speak.

June was a good month, but I can’t put my finger on one key moment that could symbolize its importance. It was all important, and necessary, in order to get us to the point we are now: approaching comfort in Santo Domingo, a bombastic and unapologetically Caribbean city.

I hope that when I look back on it, I’ll remember how exhausted I was driving late that Saturday night after we spent the whole day putting all our stuff in a storage unit back in Chicago. And what it felt like to wake up feeling rested and excited and hopeful at the hotel in Michigan City, Indiana. And of course, the nice welcome from my parents, who had dinner waiting for us weary travelers when we got in Sunday evening.

The week there was quiet and included a lot of bonding time with the family dog. Whenever we could, my sister and I took him for walks around the neighborhood of our childhood, remembering the houses and neighbors we knew so well once upon a time.

I was almost sad to leave when I headed off to the Tampa area, but I didn’t have time to think about it for long. My personal feelings were put aside once the three-day, non-stop affair started. When I could, I took short walks around the lush Saddlebrook resort, where I was staying, to acclimate to the heat and sun and soak up the feeling of the tropics.

And then, the night the conference ended, I headed to the airport and flew into Santo Domingo, arriving late. My sister and my hosts were waiting up for me, chatting and lounging on mattresses laid out in the living room. Despite my lack of familiar comforts—a lack I’d experienced for weeks—I slept like a baby that night.

The rest of June was spent trying to adjust to our new surroundings and an unfamiliar culture, but we’re on the right track now.

Santo Domingo Dominican Republic

That last month is over is fine by me. I’m looking forward to a busy and fun month here in Santo Domingo, where we take advantage of everything we came here for, and finally experience the payoff for the sacrifices we made in June—any many months before—just to get here and do this.

Santo Domingo Malecon ship

Dominican Republic Las Terrenas

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