As soon as we landed in the Dominican Republic we knew we would love it. It has a totally different feel to Puerto Rico. The people are laid back, easy-going, friendly and I feel, very beautiful, both inside and out. They possess a certain joie de vive that simply has put a constant smile on my face since our arrival.
We spent our first two days just wandering around the Colonial City Centre, not going in any particular direction, and just trying to absorb some of the culture and way of life.
Yes, people are very happy and most greet you with a smile on their face, but then there has been the side that has already made me cry several times......the little old man who was selling bottles of honey, who almost fell over with ecstacy when he thought we was going to buy all the bottles he had....only to watch the look of total despair on his face, when he realised that we were not! My heart sank to my feet - what he was asking for was less than what a meal would cost us! I felt sick to the stomach as well as deeply saddened as I walked away, and I wondered why I had been blessed with such an "easy life" when others had it so hard.
On another three occasions, I have bought food and given it to people who were hungry. And NO they have not asked for money, and YES they have come straight out and asked for food because they were hungry! Yesterday, a little boy of about 8 years of age walked into a bakery where Alex and I were having a snack, and told us that he was hungry. As I looked into his tiny face and big chocolate eyes, I felt overwhelmed.....how could I deny him one of life´s most primal necessities! As I handed him over some bread, I asked him his name......Miguel was this little boy´s name...not a non-identity, but a little boy with a name like all of us......but a life...NOT like all of us! Before he walked away, I also gave him a key-ring - he thanked me, and smiled at me, in a way which we both understood. To think that so little can actually mean so much! That night, I went back to my hotel room, and cried both openly and silently!
On another occasion, a young man came to the window of another place where we were snacking and asked if he could have some food as he was hungry. He lifted his t-shirt to show his protruding belly, and then pointed to a small plate that he was holding, telling us that he had gotten the food from a rubbish bin. I once again found myself sick to the core, as I realised that although such a basic necessity as food should be a right, not a privelege, this is not true for all. Of course I bought him some food, and gave it to him. As he walked away, we both watched as he shoved it into his mouth with vigour, after which he threw the paper bag in the bin. As he turned around, he caught our eye, and waved and smiled in a way that we will never forget. Part of the irony was that this very person who obviously did not have some of the basic necessities in life was still able to do what I have seen so many ¨"educated" people not do, which is throw his rubbish in the bin. Food for thought!
I have felt very touched by the very real poverty I have seen here. For some it only exists on TV, but to others it is a way of life. I have no answer as to why some of us will experience it in this lifetime, whilst others will not, but I will say this:
Please be conscious of those around you, and those that are less fortunate than you. Please do not take for granted what you have. Please consider how fortunate you are, and please do not cry over all the things you could have. If you have a roof over your head, and food in your mouth it is already so much more than so many other people.
Alex has a new phrase which we are using often these days, "The more we see, the less we want!" When your eyes have been opened up to so many other people and places, it is hard to place any real importance on the new four wheel drive, designer shoes, or flashy houses in flashy neighbourhoods. When we die, we leave with what we entered with....nothing! Well, except our hearts, our souls, and our memories! Anything physical ceases to matter.
My plea to all of you, is to give as well as receive. This is the law and order of our universe which transcends race, culture and creed. Don´t look down on others who are less fortunate than you, but rather if you can take a moment out of your busy day to help them out, do so. What goes around comes around! And when you give.........even if it is only a smile, you will realise that you have received a gift more valuable than gold!
Dedication: I dedicate this entry to my beautiful friend Laura Vascon, and her equally beautiful daughter Isabella. Alex and I know how much you will relate to what I have written Laura, and I can hear you saying, " We are on the same page baby!!" We love you both and cannot wait to see you in Europe next year!
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