For my mom’s 70th birthday she decided a trip to somewhere she has never been to before would be more exciting than just another birthday party filled with presents she did not need and cards she did not know what to do with. She chose the Dominican Republic and wanted her 4 children to join her in her celebration abroad or at least a few of them. I did not need any persuasion and neither did my brother and his friend. Like my mom the Dominican Republic would have been a first for me too and has long been on my list of Caribbean islands to visit.
My brother and I were able and very much willing to join her and so on the 14th of August a very excited me boarded the plane with end destination La República Dominicana. My brother arrived an hour earlier from Belgium and met us at Las Americas airport in Santo Domingo. I haven’t seen him for two years so this trip was certainly going to be more than awesome. He and I are very much alike. We both have an insatiable need for exploring. I would even say he is a bit more of the “let’s rough it” kinda guy while I still prefer my comfy little hotels and AirBnb’s
We rented an amazing house in the middle of La Zona Colonial. It was surely going to be a place my mom would feel at home at. The house was a 16th century colonial house complete with a rooftop offering gorgeous views of the Colonial Zone.
I must tell you that my mom has been struggling with mobility issues for some years now. Exploring all that the Dominican Republic has to offer was certainly going to be a challenge with mom in tow. Add to the mix my lack of patience and you get a super bomb in the making. That bomb meaning me and I was definitely going to explode with frustration, or so I thought. I am used to traveling at my own pace and have always been a rather selfish person. Hell, my nickname at home for the longest time was “verwend sikje” or spoiled little goat. How was I ever going to be able to see all I wanted to see if my mother was not able to access most of these places?
We started to inquire about scooters and electrical wheelchairs but she would have none of it. I am proud to say that she made it to most if not all the adventures we had planned and those she could not do she happily sat on the side chit chatting with the locals while my brother and I went out exploring dunes and chasing waterfalls. She even hiked up to the first swimming hole at the falls of Jima. She’s a trooper, my mom. I now know where I get my determination and sense of adventure from. Yes, she is slower at 70 but she was determined to see and experience as much as she possibly could of this very diverse country.
I would like to think that my latest thirst for adventure rubbed off on her but perhaps this quality was something she handed over to me. She was the one to inspire my parachute jump having done many solo jumps in her twenties. The many photos of her many travels in her many photo albums must have inspired us to want to travel more and see as much as possible of the world, and her speeches about the importance of being independent certainly helped us take the helm at our own ships of adventure.
Days in the DR were filled with drives to exotic locations and nights were spent playing cards and Rummy Cup, a game we are all quite addicted to. We spent many hours reminiscing about the old days when she would take us on trips to Miami, Caracas, Houston and more. The patience she showed then, dealing with 4 small kids running around. The dedication to our well being, making us sandwiches in hotel rooms, sacrificing the things she wanted to have or do just so we could visit the mouse on our annual visits to Disney World.
The smile on my mom’s face as she waddled into beautiful waters, her eyes filled with wonder whenever we passed a monument or fields of cane sugar and her little squeals of delight whenever she won a round of cards will certainly stay with me forever. This trip was after all hers, not mine. It was a matter of making that switch in my head. She was the focus and I am happy to report that the trip was a huge success. She enjoyed herself tremendously, had a great birthday together with two of her children and that is all that matters.
We can now start planning a new destination for her 71st. I think this trip was the first of what is certainly going to be a family tradition.
Always live, love and travel.