I am currently in the motherland of Dominican Republic! I have not visited in 4 years, which is highly unlikely but times and things are different now. Adult life has taken over and is in full effect! That means, responsibilities.
All my life since probably the age of five my mom would send my brother and I here for the entire summer; and so did my aunts and uncles! So all my cousins and I would spend our summers visiting our grandparents here in Bonao. It was a full house of about ten of us! All different ages and personalities mixed in one; so we fought often but laughed the most. I think it was here were I had my first crush, my first kiss, my first summer fling. It was here where I met my husband.
I will never forget those memories. It was a great tradition. I think it was because of that reason that my Spanish is so well. I never forgot my Spanish although growing up my entire life in Connecticut. My mother even had me attend el colegio here when I was a kid. I would have the uniform and all! My cousins and I would all attend a summer camp. I will never forget it, el Campamento Arlequin; a camp where we learned, played, and interacted with other kids.
I remember going to El Club Falcondo in Bonao. It's like a country club. It has basketball courts, tennis courts, swimming pools, pool tables, etc; its a great hangout. We would come and spend our entire days here, literally! From the time we woke up to the time the street lights came on. I think it was my grandparents way of getting rid of us and having some peace and quiet. When it would rain, and we wanted to go to el club, we would hang rocks in the backyard to make it stop, just so we can go to the pool. My grandma use to tell us hanging rocks made it stop raining lol.
I remember as a kid my cousins and I yelling "se fue la luz!" when the power went out, which was quite often! We would tell stories in the dark until the power came back, if it ever did. If not, we would just stay up until we counldn't keep our eyes open.
My aunt use to take us to the poorest campos in our area to feed poor families and children. It was her way of showing us how fortunate we were and how grateful we should be for what we have. I will never forget it.
We did so much during our summers! I remember going to the beach resorts, being tourists, visiting historical sites; the famous church of Higuey. The museum of Las Hermanas Mirabal was my favorite! I don't know why but I felt so connected to those girls. It was all just pure gozadera [fun]. Because of those summers I learned to love every aspect of this country, the culture, the traditions, everything. I love being Dominican. I am grateful for having had that opportunity.
But now I am an adult with a career job and I cannot just take the summers off. I would love to carry over the tradition to my child so she too can live the same experiences I did and to know and love her roots like I do. I want for my child to be bilingual just like I am and to know Dominican Republic like I do. I want her to understand DR's history just as she will the U.S.A.
Unfortunately, the only ones left in DR are my maternal grandparents. Everyone has migrated to the States. And my grandparents are in no shape to care for a little one like they did back in my day. My mother and her siblings have even discussed selling my grandparents home.
So, it will up to me to keep the DR in Amelia's heart, to teach her Spanish and make her bilingual. I will have to teach her it's culture, it's history and what this country means to me.
It has been a blessing to be able to come back with Amelia and for her to start to know DR as I know it. We leave tomorrow. I am ready to head home but it sure does bring back a lot of wonderful childhood memories being here.
I will make it a point to instill the DR into Amelia as it is in me.