Day One: The secret of an Island
Long ago I came to the realization that to be more than a tourist, but more than an inhabitant, one needs to spend a night on an island. The first time I experienced this, I was on Mackinac Island in Michigan and had gotten the chance to spend the evening. After the sun goes down, and this is the important part, the magic happens. For that moment in time you become a local and as such, the culture and ambiance of the island opens up to you.
My daughter taught me a number of years back, that to be accepted and to experience the reality of the locale, one had to become one of the inhabitants. Tonight on the island nation of the Dominican Republic, we came as close as we will be able to. As the sun went down and the moon appeared in crescent over the ocean, with the sky backlit with streaks of lightening, we became, in our minds, islanders.
Now I know I am at an all-inclusive resort where it is in the best interest of the employees to make me feel welcome and even a little bit deserving, but with a little effort and a lot of imagination, I was there.
Lesson number two I learned from my daughter…don’t wish they spoke English, but rather show them you were willing to speak native. Our wait staff, upon hearing our weak efforts, jumped in and filled in the words we were looking for. It seems our effort had not gone unnoticed.
The point I am trying so hard to make is this, vacations are for relaxation. For letting go and dropping out of the connectiveness (my word) of our daily grind. But the evenings are the chance to become a citizen of the country we have chosen to visit. Give up your nationality and instead realize that we all yearn for the same thing, a better understanding of the ever shrinking world we live in. Let it start by realizing for a moment that we are all just tourists and that it is we that can’t speak their language and not their problem to speak ours. When the sun goes down and night takes over, let relaxation give way to absorption. Immerse yourself in the culture and truly let go so that you can actually hold on. The memories of the vacation come out at night, when the sun goes down and the internal light comes on.
Thank you to the nation and the people of the Dominican Republic for showing me your heart and your spirit tonight. I look forward to seven more days and nights of learning all I can about you.