I always look forward to my vacations in the Dominican Republic to get a much needed break from the hustle and bustle of the first world. The Dominican Republic is my escape from the pressure I feel from due dates, family responsibilities, and work demands.
For people that are not used to the way of life in the “campo” it can be annoying trying to get anything done here. You make an agreement to go for a trip to the river at 10am and you end up leaving around 1pm. You promised to be at someone’s house at 4pm and at 4:30 you are still waiting for your friend to get ready. You make a reservation for a local rental car and when you go to pick it up they tell you the previous renters have yet to return it. “Ahorita” which means immediately in other Spanish-speaking countries, means later here.
But as you sit in a rocking chair, tilting back and forth, sipping on an ice-cold beer as your friends delay once again, you begin to realize that your anxiety about obligations is entirely unnecessary. The culture of the area forces you to choose between fruitless worry and letting go. Once you reach that realization, your vacation truly begins. Everywhere you go, people offer you coffee. I used to refuse, saying I have to get to wherever I was going. Now, I accept and savor on the sweet, strong brew while making conversation. At times you will find yourself caught in a game of dominos for hours, emptying a bottle of rum between friends. If you want to take a nap on the hammock, go for it. If you want to drink some juice, just pick some passion fruit. No one will be mad at you for being late.
As the days pass, I feel the muscles in my shoulders relax, my worries dissipate, and my senses enhance as I take in the surrounding beauty. I’ve heard people say they’ll need a vacation from their vacation from trying to do too much and partying too hard. While getting to this little town can be difficult and sometimes stressful, once you’re here you’ll realize what a gift it is to have this escape.