Recently, I was EXTREMELY lucky enough to join the family that I nanny for on trip to the Dominican Republic. During that time we stayed at a community which clearly catered exclusively to the rich and the famous.
This meant that for a week I was able to stay at a place that I could NEVER afford and live in a community that saw frequent visits from people like Sammy Sousa, Vin Diesel, David Ortiz, Beyonce, Pitbull and Shakira. But within that week I realized something about the type of traveller that I am.
Being in this community was certainly beautiful, there is no doubt about that. The beach was gorgeous, the home was nothing like I had ever seen before and people were there to cater to any need you may have. For some, this may sound like a dream.
Yet for someone like me, the daughter of two immigrants, these lavish vacations aren’t what I’m used to. I found myself often getting my own drinks because I felt guilty asking our butler for it. I also found the whole community to be too artificial for me. Everything felt like it was planted there to meet the needs of their high end cliental. I mean at one point I saw men CLEANING THE SEAWEED OUT OF THE OCEAN. Seriously, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Heaven forbid some rich lady has seaweed brush against her $100 pedicure. Nothing felt genuinely Dominican, there was no sense of culture, no visual of what everyday life truly looked like.
Being there I realized that those are the things I search for. I found myself often in the kitchen chatting with the ladies in the kitchen while they cooked and cleaned in my signature Spanuguese (my lovely mix of Spanish and Portuguese). I would offer my help in return for their friendships. I would ask them about their families, their hometowns and most importantly, the recipes for all of the incredible food they had been serving us.
Safe to say, I am not a high end vacation kind of girl. Now this isn’t to say that for some this isn’t their ideal setting. Nor is this in any way saying I wasn’t appreciative for the UNBELIEVABLE experience I was lucky enough to have. Everyone is perfectly entitled to whatever type of traveling they enjoy and I would be lying if I didn’t say this place was a tiny paradise. But the things I yearn for are getting lost in some tiny alleys and stumbling upon an incredible market. Staying in a hostel room with 4 other people I don’t know paying less than $20 a night. Forging a friendship with a shop owner while buying spices. I would rather find myself in the thick of local life than shut away in a gated community.
But that is what traveling is all about people, finding the type that makes you happy.