The guide’s hand shot up, his fingers slowly curling into a fist. I grasped the side-rail of our two-seater mud buggy, bracing for Josiah to disengage the gas and hit the squeaky brake pedal. We were the first buggy behind the guide, and seconds later all fifteen of us were in a long, humming, smoking line of sputtering mud buggies. The guide glanced out over us, counting with one hand and removing his bandana with the other. He gave us a thumbs-up and signaled to cut the engines. The buggy died suddenly, and I swung my legs out and climbed over the railing.
I looked up with a smile, already laughing about the crazy ride. My breath caught in my chest and I was suddenly speechless when I caught sight of why we had stopped. Suddenly the fact that my legs were still shaking from the vibrations or the realization that I was completely covered in powdery dust and salty sweat didn’t even matter. I remember the only thought in my mind was that I had never seen anything so perfect or a color more beautiful. After the loud engines all cut off, the small dirt street was suddenly silent. All you could hear was the gently lapping of the waves coming up out of the crystal-clear turquoise water onto the small rock wall protecting the softly tufted beach of white sand. There was also a muted, distant sloshing as the waves slapped the sides of a bright, red boat tethered out in the middle of the cove. It made you want to cry. I had never seen anything so beautiful. In the seconds following the moment when all time seemed to stop, I took a moment to myself as everyone went tumbling down the rocks into the water. It was moments like those all the songs are written after about the meaning of life. Life is unexpectedly found in small little coves of time, just as we found beauty in that lagoon.
Beauty can appear in the most unassuming, humble places. Many people believe natural beauty can only be found in Hawaii or Jamaica on a white-sand beach that is combed daily by staff members and patrolled by waiters selling refreshing beverages. My senior class had traveled to the Dominican Republic to serve a missions team that was building a school for children in the sugar cane fields. We had no idea that among all the chaos and poverty we were dealing with every day was a small pocket of something truly special. Our group leader for the week had surprised us one day to take a ride on the wonderfully noisy and fast ATVs called mud buggies. The guide took us far away from the touristy hotels and the crowded beaches back into a quaint rambling town that was too small to even have a name. It was there, down a narrow alley, he showed us paradise. It was truly beautiful. My breath still catches in my throat when I look at the pictures from the magical hour we spent soaking it all up.
However, the rare little cove inhabited only by locals was not the only source of beauty in the Dominican. One humid, sleepy afternoon we drove into a bustling city just outside of Santo Domingo after a long day in the sugar cane fields. I remember sitting in a little park, nestled right in the middle of this crazy, beautiful city and thinking I had never seen anything more alive. Even though the city was hardly the small, peaceful cove we had found, there were still pockets of beauty and moments to find life in both the small and big things. The music, the dancing, the shouting, and the laughing engulfed you just as the sticky, winter heat blanketed the entire city. A young couple would speed by on a moped, shouting out to an old woman waving from the park bench with little girls surrounding her skirt and licking melting ice cream cones. The very air itself was excited, dancing around as a warm breeze blowing softly on sunburnt necks. Everyone and everything was so alive, and what is more beautiful than life?
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.