There is something magical about the Caribbean shores for me. It goes beyond the blue pristine waters, the tropical weather and the beautiful. The moment I land on the Caribbean shores I feel relaxed. As most of you already know, I am an avid traveler who loves being on a flight to a far away land. The airport hustle and bustle fuels my soul, and packing my bags is my favorite past time. I often battle the urge to quit my job to find my dream job at the travel channel where I can get paid to travel. I would absolutely love to write for a living while traveling, but engineer in me stops me from being unpractical. I was a Caribbean virgin when I decided to visit Dominican Republic in 2011. I had heard about Jamaica, Bahamas before, but not so much about Dominican Republic. When my travel agent suggested Dominican Republic, I was hesitant. Of course the price sold me on it, and I decided why not. On a cold January morning, my husband I boarded a flight to Dominican Republic from San Francisco with absolutely no idea on what to expect.
As our flight attendants prepared us for our arrival to Dominican Republic, I looked outside our flight window and saw the pristine blue waters. I had never seen water so blue before, and I knew it was going to be a beachful trip for sure. We disembarked from our flight and headed towards immigration. The airport at Dominican Republic was unlike any other airports. It looked like a thatched hut, open on either side as the warm Caribbean air welcomed us. We had never stayed at a resort before either, and walked out to be welcomed by the Riu group. We boarded a van along with bunch of other people and were on our way to the hotel.
We checked in to our hotel room and were surrounded by water on all sides. I walked outside the porch and instantly felt the humid Caribbean air. The humidity instantly reminded of the many morning in India when I sat on the porch with a hot cup of tea. Dominican Republic felt like home to me. We began our day by walking the beach for a while. We were yet to experience the all inclusive experience. Neither of us knew what that meant until the ladies at the Riu hotel told us they had three restaurants that were serving all you can eat buffet. I am a major foodie, and that was by far the best surprise ever. Needless to say we had more than one lunch each day.
I was recovering from having a shoulder surgery a month before, so we decided to tread carefully while choosing our tours. We did a buggy ride to a cave and were acquainted with DR’s own WalMart. The buggy ride was exactly what the doctor did not prescribe. I held on to my shoulder for dear life as my husband rode the buggy through off roads. The slushy waters from the road drenched me in some instances and it was perfect for the tomboy in me. It did definitely help that our buggy guide smiled like Taye Diggs. I always wanted to go to Jamaica to meet my own Taye Diggs after watching How Stella got the groove back. I was surprised to meet him in DR with my husband.
We had to walk to a cave named “Hoya Azul”. The cave was lined with locals and there were some boys trying to dive into the cave. The water was pristine and blue. While some of our tour mates dived into the water, we stayed behind enjoying the beauty of the place. Some of the locals thought I was local and I was sweetly surprised. My husband being African American seemed more local than me before I could go there. But as soon as I landed, I realized I could totally be a DR Latina, and strangely it felt good to belong. We ended the day by slouching on the beach and more food at our all-inclusive resort.
The next day we went on an ecological tour up the mountains. We went to some spice farms. It reminded of my home Kerala which is the spice land. A lot of the spices in the world come from there. In fact Costco sells the Malabar pepper powder, which comes from Malabar, Kerala. My husband marveled at the cardamoms, cashew nuts while I felt nostalgic thinking about my childhood. Dominican Republic was starting to feel like home. As we drove through the city we saw children returning from schools in school uniforms. More nostalgia followed reminding me of home. Our tour included meals as we hung out in a restaurant that served traditional home cooked Dominican Republic food. I was looking for some hot sauce when a local tried to trick me into believing I was eating alligator meat. I let him know it didn’t matter as long as it was cooked. He was impressed and handed me my hot sauce.
We visited the Isla Cantina, a beautiful beach in Dominican Republic. We visited the Tortola factory where we got some rum cakes, the famous inhabitants of the Caribbean besides the blue beaches. My husband was hooked on to the rum cakes and he bought a lot of flavors of rum cakes. We spent the rest of our days on the beach soaking in the blue waters. We walked the beach each day sometimes being wet to our necks.
Dominican Republic was my gateway to the Caribbean. I had never been to the Caribbean before this, but have since gone to the Caribbean at least once a year. I am not a beach bum, but something about the Caribbean waters is therapeutic. I love the nostalgic memories it evoked reminding me of my life in India. I absolutely enjoyed every second of the trip and the all-inclusive resort became an addiction. I have been around the world and have visited exotic places, but Caribbean is an addiction I have never been able to shake off. Maybe I don’t want to get over it.