In the month of August 2016, I accomplished one item on my bucket list and traveled out of the United States for the first time. I would mention that this post is long overdue, but actually, I completely forgot to write about it. So much has been going within the past six months and now I finally had time to sit back and reflect on everything that’s happened in my life. I’d come to realize that my first time using my passport is kind of a big deal. Although this occurred four months, it’s better late than never.
For those who may not know, 2016 is the year I decided to become a travel blogger and created Taylor Takes a Trip. Traveling to different places wasn’t anything that was new to me, however, I only visited cites within the U.S., but not internationally. As a new travel blogger that has never used a passport, it was pretty important for me to venture outside of my country. Plus I’ve always had an interest in engaging with those who grew up with different customs and traditions than I did.
I wanted my first time experience to be eventful so I thought a tropical island wouldn’t steer me wrong. The foreign getaway place I chose was Punta Cana Dominican Republic. It’s somewhere that I’ve always wanted to visit and everyone who goes seems to always love it. Once I arrived, the scenery was as gorgeous as the photos I’ve seen on Pinterest. Out of the six days that I’d spent in the DR, I experienced a mixture of feelings that I anticipated before visiting and occurrences that caught me off guard during my stay.
I knew the food in the DR would be delicious but I didn’t expect for it to be so inexpensive. The price I paid for one mango was only 10 cents and it was one of the best mangos I’ve ever had in my life! I expected the natives to stare and notice that I was not from the DR, but it caught me by surprise of how diverse it is. There were so many Dominicans that were light, dark, caramel complexion, a lot of Haitians that migrated there, and so on. Majority of the locals didn’t even realize I wasn’t from the DR until I opened my mouth and spoke the English language. I also came across a few Americans that moved to there and did not intend to move back to the states at all. That’s how much they loved the DR!
From seeing photographs of the resorts online, I knew the island would be beautiful and it was marketed as a luxury getaway. In reality, the island is not as fortunate for the residents. I traveled with my mother, Uncle, and an old friend from high school and the four of us stayed in a villa that we found through Airbnb. We chose this route because it was cheaper than booking at a resort. The villa was located in a nice area right along the beach where we were able to interact with locals. Although there was a language barrier, everyone from the island that we met was extremely polite. They shared their life stories with us and we learned that the average salary for residents is $200-$300.00 a month and most work 12 hour shifts everyday of the week, which is insane!
Traveling out the country itself was a huge milestone, but visiting the DR was an experience I’ll forever cherish. Not only was it enjoyable, I‘d grown a little as a person mentally. Realizing how unfortunate the living environment was for some of the people I met was a real eye-opener. On top of that, majority of the people I’ve met were the type that will genuinely give you their last if you needed it. It makes you second-guess everything you thought has ever gone wrong in your life and for that I’m truly grateful for the chance to take advantage of this opportunity.
Hope you all find this inspiring!
If you haven’t already, check out my two Punta Cana, DR short films by clicking the following links below:
God bless 🙂