“This can’t be real,” was the thought that kept running in my mind as I lay on golden sand the consistency of flour in the middle of January. The big, curving palm trees shading the sand from the warm sun were bright green and full of lime green coconuts the size of soccer balls. The water was various colors of blue ranging from aqua and turquoise to ultramarine and cobalt and as it tossed around the seashells on shore, all I could do was soak in the beauty of the closest thing to paradise I’ve ever been.
A few days earlier I had found myself desperately searching travel sites for anywhere that was as close to the equator as possible. My dislike for the cold had turned into hatred and sheer misery had left me in desperation for any circumstance better, or should I say warmer, than I was already in. St. Augustine was reaching freezing temperatures ever night and I was stuck in the midst of it. So when I finally realized that the cheapest, warmest location I could get to was the Dominican Republic, I bought the ticket.
After I got over the excitement of knowing I would be getting out of the cold for a few days, I started to face the reality of my spontaneity and madness. Not only had I never been to the Dominican Republic but I didn’t even really know where it was. I knew it was in the Caribbean and that it would be warm but besides that all I knew was that Oscar de la Renta and Sammy Sosa were both from the country. So I was going to a place that I had no idea about but that I would leave with a lasting impression of.
Upon our arrival we spent the next few days getting to know the country and the town that we were staying in, Cabarete. Located on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, Cabarete is known as one of the best windsurfing spots in the world. After spending a few days around Cabarete we decided that we need to do a little exploring. So we hopped in the car and started driving along the coast.
We stopped along the beach of Playa Grande but there were way too many tourists to even begin to enjoy the scenery, especially when there are European men wearing Speedos all over the place, so we kept on driving. As we drove a little bit farther down, we saw it. The most perfect beach I have ever seen in my entire life. Not only that but it was absolutely empty. A beach longer than two football fields of pure perfection just waiting for us to come along and find it.
We spent the day swimming, attempting to climb up palm trees, eating sandwiches I had made, climbing around on rocks and lying in the glorious sun…just simple stuff but moments that I will remember the rest of my life. I think that’s the best part about the Dominican Republic. It reminds you that the simplest things are easily forgotten but if you just stop and recognize them they can bring you some of the happiest times of your life.
I’ll admit it was very impulsive of me to just buy a ticket to a different country without thinking much about it, but when I was lying on that beach with the sun warming my skin amidst such astounding beauty I would have made the same decision again in a heartbeat. What most imagine when they think of a dream vacation or a picture that they clip from a magazine of a perfect tropical paradise had become my reality not just because of the place but because of the experience of being there.