This past summer, my family and I went on a vacation to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. This vacation was not only the funnest, but also the most life changing experience I have ever had. I learned about happiness, family, and life in only one week.
The first thing that I loved about the Dominican Republic were the people. Everyone spoke Spanish, and the way they spoke it sounded so cheerful. They referred to my sister and I as “chica” or “nena,” and they referred to mother as “seÃ±orita,” which of course made her happy. Everything felt so happy and stress free, that it was almost impossible to worry about the problems back home in Chicago. When we arrived at the resort, the maids who cleaned our rooms were friendly, and the people who served drinks by the pool were always encouraging people to dance bachata, merengue, or salsa. It was like a party from the minute you woke up.
A person who we met that really touched me was a lady named Yadira who worked at the resort. She was part of the workers who were supposed to get people to participate in games or dances held daily at the resort. We became really friendly with her and got to know her well. We discovered that she got paid about $205 a month, which is one of the largest salaries people in the Dominican made. She told us about how she lived and worked at the resort for fifteen days straight, from six in the morning until about midnight. Then she would get three days off to go back home, and return for another fifteen days. She had been doing that for three years now. What really got to us was that she had a three year old daughter back at home that she was unable to see for fifteen whole days, and all for only two hundred and five dollars a month.
Another thing we did that really changed my views on my way of living was we took a tour of the “real” Dominican life. The tour took us to a village about an hour away from our resort. Here we went into the home of a lady who showed us how they lived. There were about six children living in a small cottage. The lady showed us how they did not use stoves or ovens, and all their food came from their plants or chickens. We learned that the average person makes a salary of about $150-$200 dollars a month. We also learned that people who worked in hotels or resorts had higher paying jobs and were wealthier than police officers, doctors, or teachers. We went to a place where they showed us where chocolate came from. I had read about sharecropping in history class, but now I had witnessed people living on cocoa bean and sugar cane plantations for free, in return for their labor and work on the fields.
In the end, this vacation was the absolute greatest. I really learned to appreciate everything that I have. I realize that all this technology, cell phones, ipods, playstations, are not as necessary as we think. There is more to life than money. Even though the people I met had very little, in the end they had way more than I did. They had more happiness and joy in their lives, and most importantly, they had their families.