October 17, 2016
It’s strange. Being back in the place I first came almost 5 years ago. The place I marveled at as a typical oblivious teenager who was so caught up in my own first world problems. But the Sugar Cane Island changed me, everyone thought it was a phase, that I wouldn’t seriously learn Spanish, that I wouldn’t seriously come back another time. But it was quite the opposite. Five years ago change my world view forever, it made me begin to question everything I believed and knew to be true. I will be forever grateful for that first time I landed here and how within a week I left a different person. Years went by, University classes started and I still managed to find a place for Dominican and could keep up relationships with locals that I started when we couldn’t understand each other at all.
The Spanish came painfully slowly, beginning with me almost failing SPAN 101 but over time, filled with all nighters and Ethiopian coffee in the library the verbs began to click. My comprehension sky rocketed from nothing to kind-of-not-terrible.
In the beginning of 2015, I said goodbye to the horrid season of winter in Canada to live in the Dominican Republic for 3 months. It was the most terrifying thing I had ever done. Everyday was hard. I was 19 and had never had to live on my own before or understand how to budget money to last a long time. Instead of just learning the basics of living like cleaning, cooking and finance, I also learned important skills like bargaining for Mangos at the market, signaling down street motorcycle taxis and responding to the negative attention from men that viewed me as a walking passport. And with these skills my local friends gave me the title tigerona. A street tiger. I wore that label with pride. Because honestly, living in Puerto Plata, it was really fucking hard.
The memories of Dominican faded quickly and I went to Cuba for a month long problem that was completely opposite of my old life on its neighbouring island. Then live in Canada started. Finding a new job, moving, meeting new people resuming University and everything in my life became wrapped up in Canada yet again. With 8 months left on my lease, as soon as the snow hit in January so did my plans for my next adventure. With a friend in Europe working as a an au pair, I booked tickets for 2 months and hoped for the best.
With my hectic life coming to an end in April, it felt good to let go of being busy and stressed out all the time. Everyday I slept under 5 hours and studied when I wasn’t working. I was trapped in the typical North American life style and was desperate for anything else. And I found myself falling in love with my German background and meeting incredible people from all over the world. Doing things I never dreamed possible, flying to Morocco and adoring North African culture.
But it was never enough for me. My restless soul holds me back from ever really enjoying a moment or appreciating something for what it is before I get bored and need to move on. Before I am desperately searching for something else, something better. Due to this spirit of never being content, I found myself back in Dominican after creating another new life for myself in the months between July and September.
Now I am here, back in Dominican. Spending a lot of my time reflecting on the past 5 years. But what happened in the past doesn’t matter. Being in paradise, living in a castle, I am ready to just be happy. I want to stop overthinking and allow life to choose its course for me. I want to spend time with people that matter to me and not be afraid to do the things I want to do. Now everyday I speak Spanish, badly, and I meet new people, I visit the ocean daily and will start surfing this week.
For anyone that is afraid of leaving their everyday life and their normal comforts, I strongly recommend it. Go somewhere. Challenge yourself. Fulfill a goal, start something new. If you fail you will just learn something new. Let yourself be a free spirit.