After a brief weekend getaway to Bayahibe, which I will write about at a later date, we returned home to the apartment in Santo Domingo. As we got closer to the apartment, we recognized buildings and streets, and Maggie pointed out how cool it was that it felt a little bit like coming home. We knew where we were, and just two weeks ago the streets had been unfamiliar and new. Now they had become a part of our lives.
Unfortunately, upon return to the apartment, I learned of the passing of a very good friend of mine from high school. Unable to process how a twenty-six year old, talented, loyal, and incredibly warm young woman could suddenly be gone, I felt very confused and stuck. Steph, who had helped me understand what it means to be loyal to others and who had helped me learn to be good to myself, had died suddenly over the weekend. With Clare still visiting, I sorted through options, battling a sense of fear and a paralyzing sadness, and found that I could go home quickly to be with family and friends. And though it didn't feel right to leave, I knew I couldn't stay. Even today, now that I am home, I can't think of anything but her and I don't think I could have learned much Spanish in school, or focused in a little classroom in a little desk talking about basic level Spanish topics when I knew my heart was elsewhere. I struggled with the decision to leave, but Maggie came through.
"Isn't this what happens with our students? Sometimes they just disappear for weeks, or stop coming, and we wonder what it is that could be so important, and why they are missing what we think is more important, when really there are more important things? We think our school work is the most important work, so necessary and so vital, and we get annoyed when students disappear, but when we step back and ask what happened, what becomes clear? That life has other plans, sometimes, and we have to be understanding of that, too. Go home. Go be with your family."
For my last night in Santo Domingo, we went to our favorite restaurant at the Plaza Espana, and soaked up the evening. A sudden flamenco show took over our restaurant, giving me one last taste of the sounds and the spirit of the city. There was so much that I didn't see yet and I didn't do yet, thinking that I had so much more time. I'll have to return. In the meantime, Maggie and Alexis can send visual updates, and I will do what I can to support the rest of their journey from home. I remain tremendously grateful for the opportunity from Fund For Teachers to go to experience Santo Domingo. Below, pictures from our weekend in Bayahibe, and our last dinner together.
|The beaches of Bayahibe|
|The beaches of Bayahibe|
|Flamenco dancer in action|
|Team Santo Domingo|