As a Dominican living abroad, my biggest reward is to be able to come back home to my motherland and to the people that I best identify with. I left the Dominican Republic when I was 11 years old and since then, I've returned more times than I care to count.
The excitement begins the minute the plane lands and everyone claps with joy. The heat, the beating sun and the familiar smells of "home" are all things that hit my senses the minute I step off the plane.
Nothing in the world can compare to the overwhelming feeling of fulfillment I feel once in Dominican soil. My first stop is usually La Caleta beach - known for scuba diving and it's "pozita", the shallow natural beach perfect for the little ones. It's a natural beach only about 10 minutes from the airport, convenient enough if you are ready for some splashing in Caribbean waters. I usually stop for a fresh coconut along the side of the road and for any other local fruits that may be in season. Most times, this is as close as I get to the center of the city as I prefer to stay along the coasts, either to the east, the north or as far as the deep south or "sur profundo". There's plenty to see and do in the capital but my heart is where the ocean meets the sand.
One place I have visited twice now and plan to go back to time and time again is Bahia de Las Aguilas in Pedernales, one of the provinces that border Haiti to the south west. Bahia de Las Aguilas is just another world. It's clear waters and white sands are enough to convince even the least of adventurous travelers to take the drive out there. To get here, you must cross Haina, San Cristobal, Bani, Azua and Barahona; all provinces with their distinct reputation and charms. The trip is long but there's so much to see and do along the way that the only desire left in me is the one to return.
Every time I return to the Dominican Republic I understand why it would have never been my choice to leave. This last time, I spent 48 hours there and proposed to enjoy every second of it. No time will ever be too little or too long for every moment there is precious. I can't wait to go back. I might just have to book my next flight sooner rather than later.