Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Top 5 Moments in Dominican Republic 2011-2012

Top 5 Dominican Republic Moments

Husband and I moved here a little over a year ago as newlyweds with two dogs and a baby on the way. We didn't know what to expect about our life abroad. Our emotions were like that Twirl-O-Paint game from the 80's, which by the way, I looooved as a kid. We had so many different shades of emotion just splattering on a twirling carousel that it all seemed a mess. But when we took a step back and looked at the work we had created, all of the shades of color, splattered and twirled actually resembled something quite lovely.

Picture from projectswordtoys.blogspot.com
As an homage to the island that has given us so much including the birthplace of our first born, Rafaella Rubio, I write today about my top 5 moments in the Dominican Republic.

Special Consideration: I should mention that to be fair to other moments, I have taken the birth of Rafaella, out of the running. It wouldn't be fair to the other moments to never have a chance.

Honorable Mention: Acts of Goodness (AOG):
Ok. So this is not exactly one moment but there were so many acts of goodness that I had to include some.

  1. "Choo-Choo" - The first AOG being when I had just had Rafaella. Mary, a teacher that works with Mike took it upon herself to start a foodtrain for us. I should note that at the time, we had known Mary for only about 2 months. No matter. She sent out an email on our behalf, asking people to sign up for one day so that we would have premade meals 3 days a week. The thought was beautiful, yes. But the practicality was BEYOND. Had it not been for her AOG that in turn spawned other AOG from other people, I'm not sure that we would have eaten for that first month and a half. And eat well. Enchiladas, Butternut Squash Soup, Brownies, Vegetable Lasagna, Pizza (bike delivered by Erin after her first attempt failed with a pizza down in the middle of the street)
  2. "Finding Nemo" - For Jolene's baby shower over 20 of us rented a bus and headed to Boca Chica. After some eating and drinks, we headed over to a volleyball net set up in the water where  one of our friends would soon realize that she had lost her wedding ring! We all began looking frantically. 5 minutes, 10 minutes passed. A group of guys came over and helped us look. 15 minutes, 20 minutes must have passed. Finding a ring in an ocean?! I would be the worst liar if I said that I was hopeful. I was not. The waves alone move things all the time, burying them under sand, not to mention 20-30 feet combing the sand trying to find a shiny ring. I enlisted the help of the snorkler guide at the hotel who came with his mask. Our friend, herself, was convinced of the ring's gone-ness. We were all thinking it - "It's Gone" - but no one wanted to be the one to say, "Sorry about your lost ring. Could I get you a Margarita?" When suddenly, the snorkler guide shot up out of the water with a small, shiny wedding ring! Imagine his surprise when 10 grown - and might I add quite good looking - women jumped on him with pure ecstasy. Apparently, you can find a needle in a haystack!

#5: "Gobble, Gobble"
Being that it was the first Thanksgiving not with my family, I knew it was bound to be a little emotional. So when i spoke to my mom on Thanksgiving and she said she missed me, that it wasn't the same without me and that this was "the first Thanksgiving after 31 years we haven't been together" I might have lost it all together. But Ryan was cooking a turkey and I was playing Christmas music and plans for the next day's Thanksgiving Football Game on the beach were being made. I realized as we sat around eating turkey that while I missed spending the holiday with my family, sitting with others and being thankful was the point of Thanksgiving - and that you could do with anyone. And although it wasn't fall weather and I wasn't waiting for Santa to finish off the Macy's parade to signify the begininng of the Christmas season, and Sister's husband wasn't awaiting the yearly Cowboy's game we had our own traditions starting. And our own fall football game being played... overlooking the ocean... not too shabby.

Doesn't everyone nap after Thanksgiving Dinner?
Our Thanksgiving Weekend family portrait
#4: "Bravo"
We had heard about Pub Quiz and knew it was something that was totally up our alley. But being that our due date was around the date of that night we weren't entirely sure that we would make it. Rafa  came two weeks before so any worries of our water breaking movie style in the middle of Pub Quiz were alleviated. However, it was still really soon to leave our little newborn, right? Luckily my mom was there and with her pushing, Husband's pushing, and Shayna Friend and Jeff Friend pushing we decided we would go. We arrived a little late and the questioning had already started so everyone was in their seat so when we entered all eyes turned to Husband and I. It was the first time since I'd had Rafa that I had seen many of these people and the first time they had seen me. We opened the door to walk to our seat. A hug, a wave, a high five while walking to my table would have been acceptable but what I got was soooooooooo much better. The whole room began to clap and hoot and holler. And if you know me, you know that I am not one to shy away from the limelight... in fact, I quite love it. But this spotlight I was not expecting. Maybe dreamed of it but never expected it.

P.S. I'm trying to plan my next due date around the next Pub Quiz.
(Pictures below of our team "The Chickety China the Chinese Chickens")

#3: St. Patrick's Weekend
5 months after Rafa was born, Husband was fabulous enough to let me go away for a much needed no responsiblity Jen weekend with a few friends. Since we live on a spanish speaking Caribbean island there are not many Irish bar options besides O'Shay's in Cabarete. So off we went, 4 hours, to arguably the best and most well-known Irish pub on the island. A few years ago, this weekend would have been a shit show - pardon the phrase. But now, it was a much needed getaway to just do what I wanted to do: sit, sleep, play volleyball, sip champagne while sitting in a pool overlooking the ocean, drink beers with a hundred other people while listening to bagpipes, Irish jig, Irish jig with strangers, Irish jig into the ocean, take whiskey shots bought by parents from our school, throw Beckett in the ocean, find a dog, name him Patty, think about keeping him, talk to people about things not related to a feeding schedule, drink a cappuccino while it was still warm without playing keep it away from baby hands. Thank you for knowing I needed this, Husband.

#2: Fa, La, La, La...What?!
Add my favorite time of the year to my favorite activity and you get COLMADO CAROLING! It was no shocker that I was going to love Colmado Caroling but it climbed to the top of my list instantly. We began at our building and caroled from Colmado to restaurant to hair salon to colmado to gas station that doubles as a colmado (with the nicest bathroom I've ever seen at a gas station), to apartment building, to French bakery, to hair salon number 2, to domino playing colmado, to our final destination, the supermarket(?) all the while drinking Presidente Jumbos (that means large beer for those not sure) and providing some basic dance moves. Many of the Dominican locals LOVED it and joined in on the celebration. The other Dominican locals, well I'm not quite sure what they thought besides maybe "here come some gringo locos." Colmado Caroling gave me one more reason to love the crap out of Christmas.
Uninterested: 1, 2, 3 who thought we were 
And here are all of the reasons why they thought we were crazy...


#1: Renting an ATV for the week in Las Terrenas

If this was your daily commute view on a 4-wheeled machine that blows the wind in your face and makes you feel free as a bird, this would be your #1 too!

 All week, I drove up and down this road on my ATV and let me just say, it never got boring. Riding up and down this street in particular with the ocean and sand to my side and the wind blowing in my hair was something out of a movie... maybe Top Gun? but I understood every time I rode this path why people chose to make this place their home. I drove it to the beach and into town. I looked forward to food shopping; sometimes I think I subconsciously forgot to buy groceries just so that I'd have to go back out on the darn thing. And in total Dominican style, we piled 4 people and 1 dog on our all terrain vehicle and rode it up a mountain.
Unfortunately the camera did not catch the 4th head and the dog.

It is an understatement to say that giving the keys back to Maria, the shop owner, was a sad moment. As should be all moments in life, I enjoyed each and every moment on the ATV fully and completely.

There are sooooo many more specific moments that didn't make this list: Colmado Wednesdays, Volleyball at the Malecon, FOCUS Fridays, Jarabacoa (both visits), The Bluffs... the list could continue. Thank you DR for making this year so incredible of a year that we have questioned how long our life abroad should be. 

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